Ask A Nurse - Pneumonia


Cathy answers your questions about pneumonia, such as "What is pneumonia?", "What are the signs and symptoms of pneumonia?", "How is pneumonia diagnosed?", and "How is pneumonia treated?".

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 00:15 What is pneumonia?
  • 00:32 What are the signs and symptoms of pneumonia?
  • 1:15 How is pneumonia diagnosed?
  • 2:10 How is pneumonia treated?
  • 3:41 Recovering from pneumonia

Full Transcript: Ask A Nurse - Pneumonia

Hi, I'm Cathy with Level Up RN. In this episode of Ask a Nurse, I'll be answering your questions about pneumonia, such as what is pneumonia, what are the signs and symptoms of pneumonia, and how is pneumonia diagnosed and treated? Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that causes the alveoli, which are the air sacs in the lungs, to become inflamed and filled with fluid or pus. It is most commonly caused by bacteria, but can be caused by a virus or fungus as well. Signs and symptoms of pneumonia include fever, chills, shortness of breath, chest pain, and a cough. In older adults, a sudden onset of confusion is another key symptom of pneumonia. So if you have an older family member or friend who suddenly becomes confused, you should suspect that they may have an infection or electrolyte imbalance present. In babies, signs and symptoms of pneumonia can include grunting, nasal flaring, rapid breathing, and cyanosis, which is the blue discoloration of the skin and lips due to a lack of oxygen.

In terms of diagnosis, your provider will review your medical history and symptoms and listen to your lungs. They will also measure how much oxygen is in your blood using a pulse oximeter, which is a small device that is attached to your finger or ear. Blood tests may also be ordered, which may show an increase in white blood cells, which indicates your body is fighting an infection. And then a chest X-ray would be used to confirm the presence of pneumonia in your lungs. If you are hospitalized or have severe symptoms, other tests that may be ordered include an arterial blood gas test, which directly measures levels of oxygen in an artery, or a sputum test, which uses a sample of the mucus from your cough to determine the exact microbe that is causing the pneumonia.

Treatment of pneumonia depends on the cause. For bacterial pneumonia, antibiotics will be prescribed, and it's essential to take your antibiotics exactly as directed. You may start feeling better after a couple of days, but it is super important to finish the entire course of antibiotics or else your pneumonia may come back. Unlike bacterial pneumonia, viral pneumonia typically goes away on its own. Your provider will likely encourage rest, increased fluid intake, the use of a humidifier, and Tylenol or ibuprofen to treat fever and/or pain. In some cases, an antiviral agent may be prescribed to help decrease the severity and length of infection. And then finally, for pneumonia that is caused by a fungus, an antifungal agent will be prescribed.

If you have severe pneumonia, it may need to be treated in the hospital where you may receive oxygen therapy, respiratory therapy, breathing treatments, and the administration of IV fluids and antibiotics. And in very severe cases, a ventilator may be required. Patients in the hospital are also typically given a device called an incentive spirometer. This device helps you take slow, deep breaths, which in turn helps to open up the airways and loosen secretions so that you can cough them out. As you are recovering from pneumonia, it's important to drink plenty of fluids so you can stay hydrated and help thin your respiratory secretions. In addition, sitting upright can help you breathe more easily, and it's important to take deep breaths and cough frequently throughout the day.

You also want to prevent spreading the infection to others, so be sure to cover your mouth and nose when you are coughing and sneezing and wash your hands often. And then lastly, it's important to know that it can take several weeks until you feel better, and most people feel tired for about a month after having pneumonia. So it's important to take good care of yourself and give yourself some grace as you are recovering. That is it for this episode of Ask a Nurse. I hope you found it to be helpful. If so, be sure to hit that like button and subscribe to our channel. And if you have a health topic or question you'd like me to address in a future episode of Ask a Nurse, then definitely leave that in the comments. Stay informed and stay well.

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