Symptoms of Pneumonia - Adults, Children and Elderly

Pneumonia is the term used to describe the occurrence of infection in one or both lungs. There are over 100 types of microbes that can cause of pneumonia, including bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Most cases, however, is caused by only 4 or 5 types of bacteria or viruses.

Symptoms of pneumonia
Symptoms of pneumonia

There is no signals above and only the symptoms that fits in all patients. In fact, the symptoms of pneumonia may be very different from one patient to another, varying according to the age, previous medical condition and the individual infectious agent. Even those most typical symptoms such as cough and fever, may have very different performances, depending on the clinical characteristics of the sick person. For example, there are cases of pneumonia with high fever, pneumonia cases with low-grade fever and pneumonia cases without fever; cough can have clear phlegm, greenish, yellowish or bloody, but it also may not have any secretion or simply not present.

In this article we will talk about the main signs and symptoms of pneumonia according to age of the patient. The following topics will be covered:
  • Symptoms of viral and bacterial pneumonia in children.
  • Symptoms of viral and bacterial pneumonia in adults.
  • Symptoms of viral and bacterial pneumonia in the elderly.

Symptoms of bacterial pneumonia in children

The signs and symptoms of bacterial pneumonia in children varies according to the infectious agent, the child's age, the severity of the infection and the clinical characteristics of the patient, that is, if a healthy child or previously with some health problem.

In general, pneumonia is a framework for rapid installation, with onset of high fever, prostration and cough that progresses in a matter of a few hours. However, in so-called atypical pneumonia, the picture may be more insidious, with gradual onset of symptoms over several days.

Among the most common symptoms of bacterial pneumonia in children include:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Tachypnea (rapid breathing)
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Signal effort to breathe
  • Wheezing
  • Refusal to eat
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain

Although not a required symptom, fever is present in over 90% of cases of pneumonia, especially in children over 1 year. In some cases, the disease may be the only signal present.

Coughing is another common symptom, which can be found in 70% of cases. However, a cough with yellow sputum or esverdada, which is a typical symptom of lung infections, may not be present in more than half the cases. Pneumonia introducing himself with dry cough is common.

It is not common, but it is perfectly possible for a child to have pneumonia without fever or cough, especially in infants. In some children, pneumonia may present only with difficulty breathing and tachypnea. Some people get just drowsiness and low reactivity.

The tachypnea, incidentally, is one of the main symptoms to be searched when we want to evaluate the possibility of pneumonia with signs of severity. Any child who has a high respiratory rate, even without fever or cough, should be immediately taken for medical evaluation. We consider a sign of gravity when the child shows the following frequency of breaths (number of breaths per minute):
  • Children under 2 months - more than 60 breaths per minute.
  • Children between 2 and 12 months - more than 50 breaths per minute.
  • Children 1 to 5 years - more than 40 breaths per minute.
  • Children older than 5 years - more than 20 breaths per minute.

Importantly, the tachypnea is more useful for assessing severity than to make the diagnosis of pneumonia, that because the first few days of infection, the child does not usually have a very rapid breathing.

In fact, the only sign that seems to be universal in all children with pneumonia is looking sick. This means that the child is less active, eat less, gets a face patient, more irritable or sleepy... That is, is a set of factors that make the mother then note that the child is not in its usual state.

Symptoms of viral pneumonia in children

Viral pneumonia usually arises as a complication of a common respiratory virus frame. Cold and flu may in some cases progress to pneumonia. In healthy adults this is rare, however, in children under 5 years, pneumonia of viral origin is the most common cause of pneumonia.

Viral pneumonia can have symptoms similar to those of bacterial pneumonia, but is usually less severe, although there fatalities. In general, the patient in addition to fever and cough also have symptoms of viral infection, such as sore throat, runny nose, ear pain, sneezing, body aches and headache. Bronchiolitis is a common complication.

The viral pneumonia usually lasts for 3 to 5 days and, unlike bacterial pneumonia resolves itself spontaneously in most cases.

Symptoms of pneumonia in adults

In healthy adults under 65, of pneumonia usually have bacterial and installs quickly with introduction of symptoms within 24 to 48 hours. It is common for bacterial pneumonia above be preceded by 2 or 3 days by a respiratory virus.

The most common signs and symptoms of pneumonia in adults are:
  • Fever - may be high or low.
  • Cough - can be dry or have clear phlegm, yellow, green or bloody.
  • Chills.
  • Sweats.
  • Chest pain that usually worsens with deep breathing (this type of pain is called pleuritic pain).
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Prostration.
  • Fatigue on minimal exertion.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

The pneumonia frames can be mild, allowing treatment with oral antibiotics at home, or serious, requiring hospitalization and antibiotics intravenously. About 20% of patients with pneumonia end in need of treatment at the hospital.

Symptoms of viral pneumonia in adults

The viral pneumonia in adults is usually caused by influenza virus, so causing influenza. Viral pneumonia is most common in children and the elderly, but can also affect adults, especially pregnant women, obese individuals or people previously weakened by other diseases.

The clinical picture is that of a strong flu that instead of better after a few days, keep progressive worsening of symptoms, with high fever, persistent cough, exhaustion and shortness of breath, which is becoming increasingly intense.

Symptoms of pneumonia in elderly

Symptoms of pneumonia in the elderly rely heavily on the health of the individual. In healthy and in good general condition elderly, symptoms often very similar to those of the adult population. However, the older and larger the number of associated diseases, more can be atypical clinical presentation of pneumonia.

Contrary to what occurs in younger adults, pneumonia in the elderly often do not progress to fever and respiratory symptoms may be mild. Cough, when present, is usually dried. If the patient already has some pulmonary disease, the tip is a worsening of their usual symptoms.

The most common symptom of pneumonia in the elderly is a behavior change. The patient may become disoriented with respect to time and space, may have hallucinations and develop an incoherent speech. Refusal to eat and a deterioration of general condition, with severe prostration are also quite common.

Pneumonia in the elderly tends to be more severe, first because the patient usually has more weakened, and secondly because the diagnosis can not be done quickly, especially those whose symptoms are typical. The need for hospitalization is common in this age group, and the mortality rate is much higher. In addition, seniors who need prolonged hospitalization often do not return to the same level of independence in their daily activities they had before.

Just as in children, pneumonia of viral origin is quite common in the elderly. The condition is usually less severe than in pneumonia of bacterial origin, yet many seniors need hospital treatment, especially those who were previously more debilitated. Treatment with antiviral drugs is often indicated to reduce the risk of complications.

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