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Mr Howe's Pneumonia

Mr. Howe is an elderly patient at Viewpoint Hospital. He recently contracted a contagious virus called pneumonia. Pneumonia is a disease that causes an inflammation, or swelling, of the lungs. Air sacs (tiny bags) in the lungs fill with fluid, making breathing very difficult. Elderly patients sometimes get pneumonia along with or after they get influenza (the flu), another contagious disease. Pneumonia can also be contracted through bacteria or viruses, passed from another person. Pneumonia easily spreads from person to person through droplets in the air that are released while coughing or talking.

Pneumonia in elderly patients can be a very serious disease and can lead to death. When a nursing assistant suspected Mr. Howe of having pneumonia, she obtained a sample, or specimen, of his thick mucus, or sputum, to be tested. She asked him to cough up some thick mucus (not just saliva, or spit) into a specimen container. A lab technician tested the sputum for pneumonia.

Because Mr. Howe has pneumonia, he feels congested and therefore is having trouble breathing normally. His muscles are weak, so he is sometimes unable to cough to clear his lungs. The nursing staff members need to make sure he doesn’t develop aspirated pneumonia, in which foreign objects such as fluids or food enter the lungs and cause an infection there.

The nursing assistants make sure that Mr. Howe rests in his bed, drinks a lot of fluids, and coughs when he is able to. They also wear medical face masks and gloves to make sure that they do not catch pneumonia from him. They are doing everything they can to help Mr. Howe recover from pneumonia.

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© 2015 by Southwest Adult Basic Education

Project made financially possible through grants from:

Southwest Initiative Foundation, Marshall Community Foundation, Southwest Regional Transition Partners, Southwest Adult Basic Education, Marshall Healthcare Partners