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Difference between Pneumonia and Pulmonary Embolism

Pneumonia is swelling or inflammation of the lungs in which the microscopic alveoli sacs are filled with fluids such as pus. These fluids make it difficult for oxygen to diffuse into the blood thus causing complications. Categories of individuals worst hit by Pneumonia are the elderly, babies, individuals with impaired immune system as well as the sick (Mark, 2011). Pneumonia is largely caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and other primary causes such as nosocomial infections. Scientists cite that Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common bacteria that cause pneumonia (Mark, 2011). Pneumonias that do not respond to antibiotics are most often perceived to be viral and are caused by adenoviruses and the influenza virus. Pneumonia case occurs when an individual breathes pneumonia causing organism into the lungs. At the portal of entry the body’s immune system is unable to prevent entry of the micro-organisms thus leading to their settlement in the alveoli. As the micro-organism continues to multiply in the alveoli, white blood cells attack the infection. These attacks eventually lead to the alveoli being filled with fluids including pus thus causing pneumonia.  Symptoms of pneumonia include: chest pain during deep breaths, fever, productive cough and difficulties in breathing. Examinable signs include: Convulsions, persistent vomiting, blue-tinged skin. Pneumonia is diagnosed by imaging techniques such as x-ray as well as sputum culture. Antibiotics are used to cure presumed bacterial pneumonia. Neuraminidase inhibitors are the general therapeutic measures used to control viral bacteria (Mark, 2011).


Pulmonary Embolism on the other hand is blood clot in the lung. Unlike pneumonia, it is not caused by lethal micro-organisms such as bacteria or virus, but by blood clot that has travelled through the blood stream from other parts of the body (Davis & Schiffman, 2013). This is referred by physicians as embolism. P.E. is characterized by deep vein thrombosis where blood clots in the deep veins of the legs. This clot breaks off and is transported to the lungs until it becomes wedged in the smaller vessels. The clot thus blocks proper flow of blood to and from the lungs thus causing ventilation-perfusion inequalities. The clot is formed by: immobilization (reduced blood flow), damaged vessel wall (primarily forms location for clot to begin) and hypercoagulable state (condition that makes it appropriate for blood to clot) (Davis & Schiffman, 2013). Previous history of blood clot especially in the legs can cause P.E. symptoms are: sharp chest pains especially during deep breaths, short breaths with exertion, apprehension, dry cough and sweating. This condition is often misdiagnosed due to similarity with other chest inflammatory diseases. Diagnosis involves Venous Doppler study to confirm presence or absence of deep vein thrombosis. Pulmonary angiography is the standard diagnosis for P.E.; chest C.T. scans have also been successful. Patient with low blood pressure can be given oxygen through tubing in the nostrils or the mouth masks; ventilator can also be used by patients with severe blockage. Blood-thinning is the most referred after intervention to patients with severe symptoms where heparin is administered in a IV.

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