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Pneumonia Symptoms and Caused

Pneumonia is an acute infectious disease of the lungs, yet is not confined to the lung tissue only, but affects every part of the body. It is not excluded that the brain, heart, general circulation (septicemia), kidneys or any other organ will become seriously involved as a complication of the condition in the lungs.

Pneumonia sometimes occurs as an epidemic, usually following influenza. Otherwise, pneumonia attacks the debilitated and exhausted individual, the person who debauched himself with alcohol and who recklessly exposed himself to cold and wet, had been on a poor diet or had badly neglected personal hygiene as regards general cleanliness and especially the cleanliness of the mouth, nose and throat.
pneumonia symptoms

Various types (33) of the Frankel pneumococcus germ, the bacillus of Friedlander and the common pus germs (staph. and strep. germs) are the agents which cause pneumonia. There are also types of pneumonia caused by viruses and by mixed infections.

A majority of healthy people carry some of the types of the pneumococcus germs in their noses and throats. Evidently they are immune to them, but only as long as they are in good health. Should they lower their resistance in any manner mentioned above, the germs inhabiting their noses and throats will start their attack on the lungs very promptly.

Thorough clearing and cleansing of the nose and throat by healthy people would free these parts from the bulk of the infectious germs. Proper care in covering their coughs and sneezes and scrupulous cleanliness of their hands would prevent the spreading and broadcasting of these germs to other people and to those near and dear to them.

While the carrier of a germ is frequently immune to his own germs, yet the same germs transmitted to another by a cough or sneeze, or by the contaminated fingers which picked the nose and then handled food for the family or strangers, or shook hands with the best friend, may induce in those persons a most virulent attack of pneumonia.

Pneumonia may be confined to one or two lobes of the lungs, when it is called "lobar pneumonia." If it is more generalized throughout both lungs and involves the minute structure of the lungs, it is called "bronchopneumonia." Bronchopneumonia is in the nature of a generalized bronchitis, only the lungs in bronchopneumonia are more inflamed because they are attacked by a very virulent germ.

Lobar pneumonia, while often confined to only a portion of one lung, is nevertheless considered as a general body infection and not just a lung disease. Lobar pneumonia begins usually with an evening chill, a prompt high rise in temperature and a sharp pain in the affected side.

There is a dry, short but very painful cough. Children often com-plain of a pain in the upper part of the abdomen instead of in the chest. The rate of breathing is greatly increased, usually to more than twice the normal rate per minute; it may be 4o to 8o per minute.

The patient feels hot, his face flushed and he is in a toxic state. After a day or two the cough becomes somewhat loose and the expectoration may be bloody or of a prune-juice color. He is nervous, irritable, complains of headache and is very often delirious.

Lobar pneumonia may last 9 days and usually ends in a crisis with an exhausting sweat and a drop of the temperature to normal. Pleurisy may follow or a new part of the lung may become involved, and the temperature will then rise again.

Treatment consists in placing the patient in a warm room with a temperature not above 7o°F. The room should have fresh air day and night, but no draughts. When the patient has the chill, apply hot water bags or heating pads to his feet and body. Later, during the high fever stage, he should be sponged with alcohol mixed with tepid water every 2 hours.

The bowel should be kept open daily with an enema in which a table-spoonful of table salt is dissolved. The patient should be given a liquid but nourishing diet of milk, eggnogs, thin, strained cereals, custards, jello, beef and vegetable broths and fruit juices. All his food should contain sufficient salt.

The patient must be watched at all times during the fever, and especially when he is delirious. An ice bag should be kept on his head during such periods. Never permit the patient to move or turn by him-self; he should be assisted with every movement in order to save as much of his strength as possible and lessen the strain on his heart.

Thanks to the new drugs, penicillin and sulfa, many pneumonia cases are cut short nowadays and complications are prevented.

The sulfa in the form of sulfadiazine, the penicillin, or both, should be given at the very start of the disease. The sooner they are given, the greater the effectiveness. Sulfa should be administered in a large dose the first time, of six to eight tablets.

Five tablets for a grown up as the first dose is considered a minimum, this is followed by two tablets every 3 hours. Children, of course, get much smaller doses. Penicillin should be given in 1oo,000-unit tablets every three hours. The drugs have to be continued for two or three days at least. Streptomycin is effective in some cases where the above drugs are not.

The variety of germs and viruses which may cause pneumonia is staggering and the various drugs must be tried. Bronchopneumonia is treated the same way as lobar pneumonia.

In severe cases of pneumonia, oxygen inhalation may be necessary. The new drugs are not an absolute cure of the pneumonias, but they have reduced the mortality rate immensely, they cut short the duration of many cases and prevent complications.

The surest cure for pneumonia is the prevention of pneumonia by living up to hygienic rules, by keeping out of crowds and closed in places with vitiated air, by not using tobacco or alcohol, by keeping on an adequate diet, having regular hours of sleep and not exhausting your physical and mental energies. These regulations must be especially observed during epidemics of influenza and pneumonia.

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