Topics: Pneumonia, Immune system, Streptococcus pneumoniae Pages: 3 (1053 words) Published: November 3, 2013

Human Anatomy & Physiology

Pneumonia is an inflammation of one or both lungs, which is usually caused by an infection. This inflammation causes the tiny air sacs, called the alveoli, within the lungs to become filled with fluid, making it harder for the lungs to function properly. To fight this infection, the body sends white blood cells to the lungs, but although this helps kill the germs it can also make it harder for the lungs to pass oxygen into the bloodstream. What causes pneumonia are many different kinds of bacteria, viruses and, occasionally, fungi can cause pneumonia. The most common cause is a bacterium called Streptococcus pneumoniae, but in individual cases of pneumonia the cause is often not known. Some of these bacteria can live in the nose or throat without causing problems, and in most cases it is not known why they then suddenly make people ill. Others can be spread from person to person, but this is less common. Usually in winter the number of cases of pneumonia rises. This is because of person-to-person spread, and also because other infections common in the winter, such as influenza (flu), increase the risk of developing pneumonia. The symptoms of pneumonia can be easily mistaken, someone with this will feel sick and experience symptoms that can be similar to flu or a chest infection. 
When pneumonia is caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacterium the beginning can be very rapid and the condition can get worse quickly. Almost all people with pneumonia will have a raised temperature, which can sometimes be very high and associated with sweats and shivering, along with a cough that brings up sputum (phlegm). Rapid breathing suggests that the pneumonia is likely to be dangerous, and confusion is a serious sign. A sharp pain in the side of the chest, which becomes worse when taking a deep breath, usually means that pleurisy (what covers the lung) has developed. This occurs when the thin outer...

References: 1) What is Pneumonia?
2) How to prevent pneumonia?
3) Diagnosis, treatment of Pneumonia & recovery
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