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Lung Infection

A lung infection is also known as bronchial pneumonia, pneumonia or lobar pneumonia. Oxygen is needed by our body in order for the cells to survive. When the air is inhaled, it travels through the mouth or nose into the lungs via the air canal systems called as bronchi. The left and right lungs are located below the ribcage on both sides of the chest cavity. The lungs are spongy organs. In pneumonia, inflammation or infection of the lungs causes the pus or fluid to fill a particular section (Lobar pneumonia) or patches are formed on the lungs (bronchial pneumonia). These two interferes oxygen uptake.

Symptoms

· Bacterial Pneumonia

Lung InfectionSymptoms include fever more than 38.3 degrees Celsius, sudden onset of chills, dry cough, productive cough with rusty sputum with blood stains, sharp chest pain especially during inhalation, rapid shallow breathing, and shortness of breath with activity, nausea and vomiting, headache, diarrhea, weakness, abdominal pain and fatigue.

· Viral Pneumonia

Viral pneumonia starts with symptoms involving the upper respiratory tract such as low grade fever and dry cough, nasal congestion, headache, sore throat with muscle and joint pains, dry cough with or without sputum, chest pain upon inhalation, chills, shortness of breath during activity, nausea and vomiting and diarrhea.

Causes

Pneumonia is a common cause of lung infection. Bacteria such as streptococcus pneumonia, Haemophilus influenza, Staphylococcus aureus, Chlamydia, Klebsiella, Moraxella catarrhalis, Legionella, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are all causative agents of lung infection.

Another cause of lung infection is aspiration when the stomach contents goes up to the lungs. Aspiration happens when the normal swallowing mechanism is impaired or because of vomiting and acid reflux.

Pneumocystis carinii is a fungus that causes pneumonia in AIDS patients and decreases the body’s defences.

Tuberculosis with Mycobacterium tuberculosis as the causative agent infects the lungs and other organs such as kidney, brain and spine.

Parasites like ascaris or round worms may invade the lungs especially if they have multiplied successfully in the body.

Diagnosis

Different tests are done depending on the type of lung infection but clinical history and physical exam are routine measures done by doctors in assessing a patient.

Tests:

· Sputum analysis and culture are sent to the laboratory to identify the bacteria and to determine the type of antibiotic to be used. Sputum culture takes 48 hours and weeks for diagnosing Tuberculosis.

· Viral Cultures

· Blood specimen to be screened for bacteria, oxygen levels, sodium levels, proteins and other studies needed in the blood.

· Bronchoscopy for taking samples in the lung and sent to lab for biopsy.

· Thoracentesis is done to remove the fluid in the lungs for analysis and for therapeutic purposes.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the type of lung infection. General antibiotics such as erythromycin may be given first until culture results are not released. Antiviral medications such as Amantadine, Ribavirin and Ganciclovir are given to patients whose causative agents are identified. Oxygen levels are given in low concentrations. Antibiotics are given intravenously if admitted in the hospital. Respiratory support such as mechanical ventilation is provided if a patient is unable to breath.

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