What is Pneumonia?

   Pneumonia is a disease that affects the lungs and causes hard coughing, high fever, chest pain, and difficult breathing. There are several kinds of pneumonia and many causes for it.
   With lobar pneumonia an entire lobe of the lung is inflamed. In lobular pneumonia only parts of the lobe are involved. With bronchial pneumonia the bronchi are infected.
   Pneumonia may be caused by a virus, or by various types of bacteria, the most common of which is the Pneumococcus. The breathing in of gases and chemicals can cause forms of the disease. Oil in the lungs causes lipoid pneumonia. Such diseases as tuberculosis, bubonic plague, or tularemia may involve varieties of pneumonia.
   The first signs of the disease are weakness, chills, repeated coughing, often with a rising fever. The person may cough up blood-tinged mucous. Fever and other symptoms may continue for a week or more. The crisis or period of highest temperature may, under proper treatment, be followed abruptly by a fall in fever, eased breathing, and gradual recovery of strength. Severely weakened people and very old people may die of pneumonia despite the best treatment.
   The best protection against pneumonia is a healthy body to ward off infection. Proper care during and following illness includes bed rest, prompt administration of antibiotics, and care during convalescence. Poorly-ventilated, overheated rooms and crowds in raw, wet seasons may foster pneumonias as they do the common cold.
   Treatment depends upon the type of pneumonia. Penicillin, streptomycin, and sulfa drugs combat bacterial types but do not affect the viral types.
   In pneumonias caused by tuberculosis, rheumatic fever and other systemic diseases, the offending disease should first be treated. Likewise, treatment of noninfective pneumonias with chemical, allergic, or physical causes should begin with removal of the causative factor. In pneumonias, oxygen is frequently administered to aid respiration.
   Infective varieties may be contagious and, therefore, quarantine measures are prescribed. All animals seem to be susceptible to pneumonia.