LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Flu numbers continue to soar in Southwest Louisiana this week and one of the most common flu-related complications is also on the rise. Pneumonia is What's Going Around this week, according to Dr. Robert Bernauer, emergency room physician at Lake Area Medical Center.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages. Dr. Bernauer says he has seen more people coming into the emergency room with the most common symptoms:
"People with pneumonia, they typically have fever, chills, cough, and shortness of breath," he said.
Dr. Bernauer says he is definitely seeing more patients for pneumonia this year compared to last, and it can be connected to the rise in flu cases.
"Whenever you have the flu, it affects your body and allows for a super infection of bacterial pneumonia," said Dr. Bernauer.
Those most at risk are the very young and very old. Dr. Bernauer says a definitive diagnosis is two-fold.
"To diagnose pneumonia, you typically need to do lab work and a chest x-ray," he said.
Antibiotics are prescribed if pneumonia is confirmed.
The viruses and bacteria that are commonly found in a child's nose or throat, can infect the lungs if they are inhaled. They may also spread via air-borne droplets from a cough or sneeze.
"The best way to prevent pneumonia is washing your hands, stop smoking, and make sure you're up to date on all of your vaccinations," said Dr. Bernauer.
You are more likely to become ill with pneumonia if you smoke or have underlying medical conditions.
If you have bacterial pneumonia, you should not be contagious after 24-48 hours of taking antibiotics.
Pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of death in children younger than five years old worldwide.
Copyright KPLC 2017. All rights reserved.