Bronchial pneumonia, also known as bronchopneumonia, is an infection of the respiratory system that affects the bronchial tubes with patches on one or both lungs. Pneumonia affects approximately 4 million people each year and is the cause of more than 60,000 deaths each year. This type of pneumonia is common among infants and children, the elderly and those with compromised immune function. People aged 65 and over, in particular, are at greater risk.
Presenting symptoms can vary slightly depending on the etiology of the infection, for example, whether the pathogenic agent is bacterial or viral. Early and accurate diagnosis is key to treating bronchial pneumonia; advanced stages of the infection may require immediate hospitalization. Common primary symptoms include fever, cough, breathing difficulty, chest pain and fatigue.
Fever, Cough and Breathing Difficulty
Bronchial pneumonia is associated with a low-grade temperature usually around 100 degrees F.The high temperature is usually accompanied by chills or sweats. Seek medical attention promptly if the fever rises to 102 degrees. A persistent dry or productive cough is present, and if phlegm is produced it may be streaked with blood. Additionally, breathing difficulty is common and includes rapid respirations (breaths per minute) as well as shallow breathing with shortness of breath (SOB). Such problems occur as the irritated and inflamed lungs strain to obtain oxygen; also, wheezing may occur.
Chest Pain and Fatigue
Sharp chest pain generally occurs during inhalation and can be present with or without activity.Chest discomfort inhibits deep breathing attempt, and signs of oxygen deprivation may be observed in acute cases; for example, lips and/or nails may have a bluish color. The lack of oxygen also disturbs the normal process of oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange. This means that the patient may retain higher levels of carbon dioxide than normal.
The result is more rapid breathing in an effort to, first, take in more oxygen, and second, to expel excess carbon dioxide from the lungs. Persistent and painful coughing taxes the body, thus leaving the patient exhausted and weak. A large amount of energy is being expended in not only fighting the infection, but also in breathing in sufficient amounts of oxygen.
Random symptoms that may occur with bronchial pneumonia include the following: headaches, nausea and vomiting, as well as diarrhea.
- Diseases of the Human Body, 4th ed; C. Tamparo & M. Lewis; 2005