Although anyone can develop pneumonia, the people who are most at risk are children, older adults and people with existing respiratory problems, such as asthma and COPD. Individuals who smoke, have recently undergone a surgery or have a compromised immune system may also be at greater risk. Pneumonia is commonly a complication of an existing infection, like the flu, but there are dozens of reasons that people may develop this condition.
The symptoms and their severity may vary, but the most common signs that someone has developed pneumonia are coughing, a fever, chills and shortness of breath that occurs when walking up stairs. Someone who has a cough as a result of pneumonia may cough up colored or bloody mucus. People may also experience sweating, fatigue, loss of appetite and chest pains when they cough or breathe deeply.
There are a variety of germs that can lead to pneumonia, including bacteria, viruses, fungi and mycoplasmas. It is important that it is determined whether someone has viral or bacterial pneumonia because the kind of treatment that a person needs will depend on the type of pneumonia it is. Additionally, someone who has viral pneumonia is at risk for coming down with the bacterial version as well.
A failure to diagnose even a seemingly common illness can allow someone's condition to get much worse. In addition to the fact that people may not receive the treatment they need, they may also end up being given medications that cause other problems to develop. A medical malpractice attorney may assist someone who has been harmed by a doctor's misdiagnosis by explaining the options for recourse.