Pneumonia is the condition created when a bacterial infection causes fluid to accumulate and begin to fill the lungs. Typically very painful, this condition can be fatal if not treated although, with medical treatment, recovery is almost a guarantee. Bacterial pneumonia symptoms include a cough accompanied by stabbing chest pains and oftentimes a greenish or yellow phlegm, in addition to high fever, chills, shortness of breath, and joint and muscle pain. Diagnosis of pneumonia resulting from bacterial infection is done by X-ray and testing of the coughed up phlegm.
Many parents are alarmed to realize the increasing number of elementary age cases, just among family and friends, of a variety known as viral pneumonia. When diagnosed, most parents are dumbfounded, because they had never heard of the disease prior to diagnosis. They are equally alarmed because the symptoms are much milder than bacterial pneumonia, leading to a delay in treatment.
Viral pneumonia is not nearly as serious as bacterial pneumonia, and seldom requires medical treatment except to verify that the condition is not something more serious. As most parents with school aged children today had a family member in their parents' age bracket who had died of pneumonia when a child, the term “pneumonia" still sends up red flags of panic. Bacterial pneumonia was the leading cause of death in children in the time of our parents' childhood because there was no known treatment. The discovery of antibiotics since that time has relegated a once deadly disease to an easily treatable condition.