Characterised by high fever, coughing, with or without sputum, and often chest pain, which may increase with respiratory movements. Sometimes sputum has a brownish or rusty appearance, which points to pneumonia caused by pneumococcus.
The so-called atypical pneumonia, caused by Mycoplasma or Chlamydia among others, is often characterised by fever with very few respiratory symptoms.
Who is affected by the condition?
Pneumonia is a very common disease (350,000 cases/year in Spain) and is a significant cause of mortality in the general population. It can affect all age groups.
In previously healthy people it is a disease of mild or moderate severity. It can even be treated at home or in outpatient care, but in patients with previous pathology (immunocompromised, heart failure, previous respiratory failure), it is generally serious.
The appropriate use of antibiotics, together with occasional respiratory support measures (oxygen therapy or even intubation), contributes significantly to improving the chances of cure in the most severe cases.
It is performed based on the patient's clinical history (age, previous pathology, evolution time and type of symptoms), auscultation, chest radiography and blood and sputum cultures to identify the causative organism.
Antigens can also be detected in urine for pneumococcus and Legionella.
The treatment is antibiotic, based on a clinical estimate of the possibility of it being caused by one germ or another (in many cases treatment is started immediately without knowing the causal organism). Treatment is later maintained or changed according to the cultures and the patient's evolution.
The criterion for inpatient or outpatient treatment depends on the estimation of the risks that may occur (older age, previous pathology, impairment of respiratory function).
In a previously healthy patient, treatment may be in outpatient care.
Chest x-ray, blood and sputum or respiratory secretion cultures and determination of antigens in urine.
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De Souza Galvão