Pneumonia is a disease of the lungs in which they become infected and inflamed. This can be due to a very large number of microorganisms like viruses and bacteria, but also due to environmental dangers such as chemical inhalation as well. It can be a very serious illness and is a leading cause of hospitalization. Many times, pneumonia only affects either one lung or the other, however sometimes double pneumonia (also known as bilateral pneumonia) may also occur. This particular type is often much more severe, and symptoms can be exacerbated greatly, thus leading to an increased risk of complications.
Understanding double pneumonia however means understanding some of the underlying causes and what symptoms related to them can mean. In the case of bacterial pneumonia for instance, the cause is a bacterium. Most of the time, this type of infection leads to a more sudden onset of symptoms and more severe symptoms as well. Coughing up blood, fever, chills, confusion, vomiting, nausea and chest pain may occur as symptoms of bacterial pneumonia. Medical care is often necessary for this form of the illness, and often either hospitalization or home use of doctor prescribed antibiotics for pneumonia are required for symptoms to begin to subside.
Conversely, while still a serious illness, many cases of pneumonia are attributed to viruses, and their symptoms can be markedly less severe. While still potent enough to keep people from school and work, viral pneumonia may present more like a bad flu than the familiar lung disease, with flu like symptoms appearing gradually, over the course of a few days as opposed to suddenly.
In fact, unlike double pneumonia, one type of the condition caused from a specific type of microorganism may produce symptoms that are so mild, they are little more bothersome than those from the common cold. This type of illness is referred to as mycoplasma pneumonia, but the lack of serious symptoms that allow for the continuation of normal daily activities is where it gets its nickname, “walking pneumonia” from. Walking pneumonia symptoms in fact can be so mild, that many people do not realize that they even have it.
This combination of symptom misidentification combined with varied incubation periods based on the organism causing the infection are what contributes to the often lengthily pneumonia contagious period and its easy spread. Because the incubation period can last from a few days to a few weeks and symptoms can easily be misidentified in many cases for other mild illnesses, it is not uncommon for the condition to be passed around from person to person, especially in crowded places. When this happens, the illness is often referred to as community acquired pneumonia, because it is obtained from larger and possibly sicker groups of people. Unfortunately, when the condition progresses to more serious illnesses, such as in double pneumonia, serious complications can result.
A bacterial infection in the blood can be a complication of pneumonia, and while uncommon, it can be very serious. Most often, this type of secondary health hazard is the result of recurrent infections. Even more rarely, the infection may spread to other organs throughout the body, which can lead to life threatening situations. Abscesses may also appear and they can lead to hemorrhaging which can be seriously dangerous. While these types of complications are rare, they do occur in some cases of pneumonia, and may be more common in the very young or very old, or in persons that have other illnesses already or compromised immune systems.
More commonly, double pneumonia may be more likely to lead to kidney problems and respiratory distress. Electrolyte imbalances are very common in people who are hospitalized for pneumonia. They are often easily solved with intravenous fluids like saline, however if these are left untreated they can lead to long term kidney damage and further health complications.
Double pneumonia may also be more likely to lead to a condition known as ARDS. It stands for acute respiratory distress syndrome. Prior to this, it was known as adult respiratory distress syndrome in order to differentiate it from the same phenomenon in infants. ARDS refers to respiratory failure, and is a medical emergency as the lungs are not able to function on their own and thus distribute oxygen. It is considered life threatening, and is one of the leading causes of death in people with pneumonia.
Double pneumonia most often is simply a more severe form of an already serious illness. There is no guarantee that having the disease in both lungs will lead to any complications, nor is there any guarantee that only having the illness in one lung will eliminate the risk of complications. Understanding pneumonia means understanding that each individual is different, and that there are a lot of different underlying causes to the condition. These facts in themselves are truly more valuable at understanding the outcome of pneumonia, for better or worse.