Pneumonia –why it can cause death and why you shouldn’t wait to go visit the ER?
Most of us have fallen victim of influenza, and everybody has experienced a common cold. Respiratory infections are the most common health problem among children and adults, and it is easy to take for granted symptoms such as cough or phlegm. However, sometimes, respiratory infections become a severe problem and affect the lung tissue, as it happens in pneumonia. According to the Khaleej Times, this respiratory infection is responsible for 13% of deaths in the UAE in 2016. But why is it so concerning and what can you do about it?
Concerning facts about pneumonia
Pneumonia is a respiratory disease that is often caused by a virus or bacteria. But may also result from exposure to certain chemicals and environmental contamination (known as chemical pneumonia or chemical pneumonitis). In both cases, it leads to inflammation of the lung tissue and compromises the normal respiratory function.
The main problem with pneumonia is that inflammation fills the lungs with pus and fluids. The normal exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide is compromised. This leads to an abnormal rise of carbon dioxide in the blood. In severe cases, carbon dioxide excess may turn your blood acidic and lead to severe problems such as heart failure, coma, and death.
Additionally, at the end of the respiratory tree, there’s a connection between the outside world and our blood. Our body is equipped with many defense mechanisms to avoid any contaminant from reaching the blood. And in normal circumstances, only gasses are able to pass. However, the immune system of a weakened patient may not respond as it should, and the bacteria will reach the alveoli and move into the blood. In other cases, the inflammatory response becomes excessive, and the body enters into a systemic inflammatory state called sepsis, which is a potentially fatal complication.
All of these complications are more common in people with a compromised immune system, in infants and small children, the elderly, and people with heart disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Warning signs and symptoms
Catching pneumonia early and treating the condition will prevent any possible complication. However, if you want an early treatment, you should be able to make out the warning signs and symptoms of a suspicious respiratory infection.
Pay special attention if you experience these symptoms and go to the emergency room right away:
- Coughing with shortness of breath: It is difficult to breathe, and you might even feel like choking sometimes. Coughing is often productive with green mucus, but this may not be the case in some cases.
- Chest pain: A dull chest pain that intensifies every time you cough.
- High fever: Especially alarming in infants and older adults, and should be considered and examined in every case. Higher temperature readings are associated with higher severity of the infection. Note that immunocompromised people might not have an alarming fever, and may even display low-temperature readings.
- Confusion: Be careful with older adults with a respiratory infection and sudden changes in their levels of awareness, confusion, and other neurologic symptoms. These should be assessed right away by your doctor in the emergency room.
During the summer season where temperature is high outside and suddenly temperature drop inside an airconditoned room your body can experience temperature change. If you or anyone experience the symptoms above, do not hesitate to visit our Emergency Room or call 998 immediately.