Ben Franklin has often been quoted as saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Preventing an episode of pneumonia is worth a “pound of cure”. Pneumonia can cause life threatening and catastrophic consequences for many patients depending on their medical risk factors and general state of health. The next several articles will enumerate and inform you about the many risk factors associated with pneumonia. Some of the risk factors for pneumonia can be lessened by those conscientious enough to do so. Some risk factors cannot be modifi ed and should help patients be aware of this chronic risk pattern.
Let us begin our discussion by saying that we see many patients who have been told they have a pneumonia, but on further review never had it. The confusion often arises in the emergency room when patients are admitted for pneumonia without signifi cant fi ndings on their chest x-ray. How does this happen? The x-ray findings of pneumonia lag behind the clinical picture. This means a patient can have symptoms that appear to be pneumonia with a normal chest x-ray, which may not become abnormal for several days. It also means that a patient can be improving and feeling much better but their chest x-ray still shows evidence of pneumonia. It is only a number of weeks later that a review of all of the x-rays shows no evidence of a previous pneumonia. It does not mean you were not sick or even needed hospitalization, but that you did not have pneumonia.