Bronchopneumonia may follow bronchitis, influenza, or such infectious disease as scarlet fever and measles, is frequent in alcoholics and in people suffering from organic and debilitating diseases as of the kidney or liver.
In the last mentioned conditions it may follow an ordinary cold or acute bronchitis, therefore, such as people should stay confined at home until the symptoms of the cold and bronchitis have completely subsided.
Bronchopneumonia develops gradually - unlike lobar pneumonia which comes on suddenly with a chill and high fever.
In bronchopneumonia, the fever may be slight at first, rising higher in the evening, but in a few days it goes up to 103 or more.In elderly people, the temperature may stay low throughout the course of the disease.It may drag along for weeks, hitting the very young and the very old the hardest.
The present-day treatment with penicillin and sulfa often cuts short bronchopneumonia.
Symptoms comprise fever, general weakness, cough and expectoration, increase in the rate of respiration which may go up to 50 or more, and a proportional increase in the pulse.
Nursing care is needed. the patient should be kept absolutely in bed and use a bedpan, wool or flannel worn next to the skin, alcohol sponging used for the fever, large mustard plasters applied to the front and back of the chest, once or twice a day.
Never leave the plaster on too long or the skin will blister.If the skin becomes too tender, stop using mustard plasters. A warm, salt water enema prevents constipation and reduces the temperature.
However, if the bowels move once or twice a day, the enema may be dispensed with especially if it tires the patient. A hot water bag should be applied to the feet and the room temperature kept at 70 or slightly bellow.
The diet should be mostly liquid: milk,fruit juices, strained vegetable broths, eggnogs, jello and thin cereals diluted with the milk or water.
The bronchopneumonia patient must stay in bed long enough to be well improved and avoid a relapse. Absolute rest does not mean immobility.
Even during the fever period the patient can be helped to change his position frequently when he is not a sleep.
During convalescence, the patient should be encouraged to sit up in bed at first, and then encouraged to sit up on the side of the bed. After 2 or 3 days, he should be allowed to sit in a chair for one-half hour twice a day.
When he regains his strength, he may move about and lounge around as he pleases.Absolute rest without changing position has caused fatalities, brought about by clots (thrombi) in the veins, fragments (emboli) of which may be carried by the circulation to some vital spot, as the brains or heart.