What is bilateral pneumonia?

Bilateral pneumonia, or double pneumonia, is a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection that affects both lungs. Affected patients have fluid in their lungs and have difficulty breathing. Pneumonia is a serious condition that can lead to death if left untreated.

People of all ages can become infected with the pathogens that cause pneumonia. Older people, particularly those who have difficulty swallowing, are at higher risk than people in other age groups. People who use recreational drugs or who abuse alcohol can also get bilateral pneumonia.

People whose immune systems are compromised are often at higher risk of developing pneumonia than healthy people. People whose bodies are weakened by a recent bout with the flu or another lung infection can get sick. People who have seizures, strokes, or heart conditions are also at risk.

The disease spreads when an infected person sneezes or coughs around other people. Pathogens enter the lungs and colonize the alveoli. The body sends white blood cells to attack invaders. The lungs soon fill with fluid and pus, which is a thick fluid that forms when white blood cells collect in one part of the body.

An infected person often has a high fever. He or she may have a sore throat, chills, and a productive cough that produces discolored sputum. Some affected people have shortness of breath or do not have the energy to complete their usual daily activities.

As the infection progresses, patients with bilateral pneumonia sometimes develop a purple or bluish tint to the skin due to lack of oxygen. They may also experience chest pain. Some people hear a whistling or rattling noise when breathing in and out.

A doctor diagnoses bilateral pneumonia through a physical exam. He or she listens to the lungs with a stethoscope. The doctor may also look at the lungs by taking X-rays.

A doctor may perform blood tests to obtain a white blood cell count. Patients with viral or fungal pneumonia have more than one type of white blood cell called lymphocytes, and people with bacterial infections have more neutrophils. The doctor may also use sputum samples to determine if the infection is caused by a bacteria, fungus, or virus.

Doctors prescribe oral antibiotics for most cases of bilateral fungal and bacterial pneumonia. People can prevent pneumonia by getting a yearly flu shot, because pneumonia often follows the flu. They can also prevent pneumonia and other illnesses by eating a healthy diet, practicing good hygiene, and getting enough sleep.

Go up