Sentinel spectrum for dogs: Coughing and sneezing, runny nose.
Inflammation in the nose, bronchial passages and lungs is called a respiratory tract infection. If you find yourself sniffling and coughing, a cold is probably to blame. Other possible culprits: The flu, allergies, whooping cough, the common cold, or a throat or chest infection. Infections in the lungs could be bacterial or viral, but it's usually not possible to identify them with certainty. If you think you might have a lung infection, ask your doctor for guidance. Treatment will vary depending on the type of infection.
Croup is a thick, irritating, throaty cough caused by the bronchioles (the tubes that lead to the small air sacs where oxygen is breathed). It's sometimes caused by viruses and is often followed by a fever and runny nose. Other symptoms include:
• Excessive mucus production in the throat.
• Increased coughing.
• Swollen glands in the neck.
In severe cases, croup can cause the throat to swell, making breathing very difficult. Croup is more common in kids and young adults, but it can occur at any age.
The cause: Croup is usually caused by a virus, but sometimes a child has an allergy to dust or some types of food that's in the air. Treatments are the same as for other types of respiratory infections. For children, rest, hydration and medication to relieve coughing and discomfort may be all that's needed. For babies, you may be able to get relief from the pain and discomfort of croup by putting the baby to bed and placing a humidifier in the room. Your doctor may want to start antibiotics to kill any bacteria that might be causing or contributing to the infection.
Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs that's usually caused by viruses or bacteria. Sometimes it can be caused by other kinds of germs.
The cause: Pneumonia is caused by a number of things, but it's usually caused by viruses or bacteria that enter the lungs through a nose or throat infection. Treatment is the same for many types of pneumonia. For adults, antibiotics can kill the germs that cause pneumonia.
The most common symptom: Fever and a cough are the two most common symptoms of a pneumonia infection. This infection of the lungs may also cause symptoms that resemble other respiratory conditions, such as bronchitis, bronchiolitis, acute asthma, upper respiratory infection and laryngitis.
The most common complication: Pneumonia is the most common complication from acute upper respiratory infection. Pneumonia usually causes problems that result from a weakness in the respiratory muscles. In young children, the risk of complications is high, and a large number of deaths occur as a result of pneumonia. It can cause a type of brain inflammation called encephalitis.
Pneumonia also can be life-threatening for some adults and infants. It is more common in the elderly and in those with other health conditions that weaken the immune system.
There is not a specific test for the presence of pneumonia. Your doctor may suspect pneumonia when you have a fever and signs of breathing trouble. An X-ray may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.
An antibiotic can kill germs that may cause pneumonia and prevent it. Most infections of the upper respiratory tract are treated with antibiotics.
What to do:
Treat your fever. Treat the cough.
If you have trouble breathing, take care of your airway.
Pneumonia has many other complications, including:
Mood changes. The brain, which is also infected with germs, can be affected by the inflammation. Pneumonia is an extremely serious infection that can be a contributing cause of death.
Encephalitis. In this rare complication, the brain becomes inflamed. Pneumonia can cause this complication if you have weakened immune systems.
In adults and infants, pneumococcal pneumonia is a particular concern because the strep bacteria cause invasive infections. Streptococcal pneumonia can cause sepsis, heart failure, and other complications. Your risk of getting this particular form of pneumonia is higher if you have heart problems or diabetes, if you use tobacco, if you smoke, or if you are in poor health.
If you have a fever and signs of respiratory trouble or have problems breathing, call your doctor. Your doctor will check your chest to make sure you do not have other health problems that cause respiratory problems. The doctor may try to control the fever and help you breathe, or your doctor may take you to the hospital.
You are more likely to become ill if you:
Are younger than 2 years old.
Are 5 years old or older.
Are older than 65.
Are people with a weakened immune system, such as someone with HIV/ DS, cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, or liver problems.
If you are obese.
Are someone with poor health habits, such as those who smoke.
Have been exposed to dust or chemicals, such as fumes from a fire.
If you are exposed to indoor dust, such as when a new baby is placed in an incubator.
How is pneumonia diagnosed?
Your doctor may first ask about your symptoms. If you have an infection, the doctor may do a physical exam and check your lungs with a stethoscope. Your doctor may also look for signs of a sore throat, coughing, or other signs of an infection. Your doctor may take some of your blood to test for infection.
If the diagnosis seems clear, your doctor will probably prescribe a drug to help you feel better and lower your fever. Some symptoms of pneumonia, such as a sore throat and difficulty breathing, will usually get better within 2 or 3 days. However, symptoms of pneumonia do not always go away within 2 or 3 days. In this case, a chest x-ray may be done to check for infection.
What are the treatments for pneumonia?
If you have other health problems that contribute to your difficulty breathing, such as congestive heart failure, your doctor may be able to prescribe treatments to help.
You are more likely to have trouble breathing and feel more ill when you have an infection. Treatments to lower your fever will usually help you breathe better. For example, if you have symptoms of pneumonia, you will probably be given an antibiotic to help your body fight the infection.
You will also be given medicines that:
Lower your fever and the inflammation that can occur.
Reduce the amount of mucus that may make it harder to breathe.
Reduce your risk of complications.
Some medicines are recommended when you have a particular kind of pneumonia. For example, you may be given one of the following if your condition is due to influenza:
M2 inhibitor: It works to help prevent the virus from entering your body.
Influenza and pneumococcal vaccines (PPSV-13): These vaccines are available for children and adults. They are usually recommended for people with certain risk factors.
M2 inhibitor + PPSV-13: These vaccines are recommended for people who have one of the following risk factors:
Pneumococcal disease. Pneumococcal disease is a form of pneumonia caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacterium.
History of hospitalization for pneumonia.
History of asthma.
History of chronic lung disease, such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis.
People who are elderly and have