Last November actress and model Kim Porter died unexpectedly in her home.
The L.A. county coroner’s office reports she died from pneumonia. The autopsy report described “lobar pneumonia” as an infection of the lung caused by bacteria.
WHAT EXACTLY IS PNEUMONIA? ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES?
Pneumonia is an infection in either one or both lungs. The infection causes the lungs’ air sacs (alveoli) to become inflamed and fill up with fluid or pus. That can make it hard for the oxygen you breathe in to get into your bloodstream.
WHAT CAUSES PNEUMONIA?
Many things can cause pneumonia. Infectious causes of pneumonia include bacteria, viruses, and fungus, but there are other causes as well.
WHY DO YOU THINK KIM PORTER DIED FROM IT? WHAT CAUSES PNEUMONIA TO BE FATAL?
It is difficult to say. How serious pneumonia is depends on many factors. These include what caused the pneumonia, your age, and your overall health.
WHO COMMONLY GETS PNEUMONIA?
People who are most at risk are people older than 65 or younger than 2 years of age, or already have health problems.
Some people may be more likely to get pneumonia than others. Those with chronic lung diseases such as COPD or cystic fibrosis may be more vulnerable to getting pneumonia. Other conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or sickle cell disease and those with weakened immune systems may be more at risk for getting pneumonia.
There are other underlying conditions that make it more likely for someone to get pneumonia, and certain behaviors such as smoking and exposure to certain chemicals or fumes can do this as well.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PNEUMONIA?
Symptoms of pneumonia vary from mild to severe. Common symptoms of pneumonia include cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, chest pains with breathing or coughing
HOW SERIOUS IS PNEUMONIA?
Symptoms of pneumonia vary from mild to severe. Some people recover while others may have complications.
WHATS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HAVING PNEUMONIA AND THE FLU?
Some of the symptoms are different, but some are the same. Bacteria are the most common causes of pneumonia in adults, but viruses that infect the respiratory tract may cause pneumonia. The influenza or flu virus is the most common cause of viral pneumonia in adults. Typical symptoms of flu vs pneumonia are different, but can overlap
HOW CAN WE PREVENT SOMETHING TRAGIC LIKE THIS FROM HAPPENING?
Seek medical care when encountering signs of illness, if you have underlying medical conditions, or if your illness is very severe or worsening.
SINCE PNEUMONIA HAS SIMILAR SYMPTOMS AS A COLD OR FLU, IS IT EASY TO GET MISDIAGNOSED?
It can be initially.
HOW DO YOU TREAT PNEUMONIA?
The underlying cause of the pneumonia needs to be treated. If the cause of the pneumonia is a bacteria, for example, then we give antibiotics to treat it. But, vaccines can help prevent some types of pneumonia.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF PNEUMONIA?
A: Bacteria are the most common cause of pneumonia in adults. They can cause pneumonia on their own, or after you’ve had a cold or the flu.
Bacterial pneumonia can occur on its own or develop after you’ve had a viral cold or the flu. Bacterial pneumonia often affects just one lobe, or area, of a lung. When this happens, the condition is called lobar pneumonia.
- Any virus that affects the respiratory tract can cause pneumonia. This includes the flu virus and the virus that causes the common cold. In children under 1-year-old, the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common cause. Viral pneumonia tends to be mild.
- Some fungal infections can lead to pneumonia, especially in people with weakened immune systems.
You can also get pneumonia through aspiration. This is when you inhale particles into your lungs. This could be food, saliva, liquids, or vomit. It occurs most often after vomiting, and you are not strong enough to cough the particles out. The particles get infected, and you develop pneumonia.
IS PNEUMONIA CONTAGIOUS?
A: It can be.
Dr. Caudle answers your “Text Tom” questions on the next page.