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Legionnaires’ Disease Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

What Is Legionnaires’ Disease?

Bacteria known as legionella pneumophila dwell in the mist from air-conditioning ducts. When the bacteria enter human body, it either results in Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac fever with Legionnaires’ disease being a more severe one. While Pontiac fever may not require any treatment at all, Legionnaires’ disease can be life threatening if left untreated. The bacteria do not affect everyone all the time. There are certain risk factors that increase the chance of Legionnaires’ disease. Fortunately, it is not contagious since legionella pneumophila cannot be transmitted from one person to another. The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are similar to those evolving in pneumonia.

What Are The Symptoms Of Legionnaires’ Disease?

The symptoms usually evolve in between two to 10 days of bacteria entering the body. Legionnaires’ disease generally affects the lungs and the following symptoms may evolve during first few days:

Very soon, some severe symptoms like chest pain, breathing problem, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and even coughs characterized with mucus and blood. An immediate diagnosis is very crucial when these symptoms evolve because without lab tests, it is not clear whether a person is suffering from Pontiac’s fever or Legionnaires’ disease. Pontiac’s fever symptoms go away within two to five days.

What Causes Legionnaires’ Disease?

The primary cause of Legionnaires’ disease is the legionella pneumophila bacteria that enter the body through sources like:

  • Swimming pools.
  • Air-conditioners.
  • Hot tubs.
  • Shower.
  • Physical therapy equipment.

Although these are the most common sources of bacteria, aspiration of water containing legionella pneumophila and working on soil in which the bacteria dwells may also lead to Legionnaires’ disease.

What Are The Risk Factors Of Legionnaires’ Disease?

Since legionella bacteria dwells in so many places and sources, it does not mean that a person gets ill every time the bacteria enters the body. The risk of Legionnaires’ disease increases due to the following factors:

  • Having a chronic lung disease.
  • Weak or impaired immune system.
  • Smoking.
  • An age of 50 years or older.

What Are The Complications Of Legionnaires’ Disease?

Since Legionnaires’ disease is a fatal infection, the following complications are likely to arise if not treated promptly:

  • Sudden kidney failure.
  • Respiration problem.
  • Sudden downfall of blood pressure leading to a weakened heart and insufficient blood supply to necessary organs.

How Is Legionnaires’ Disease Diagnosed?

Diagnosing Legionnaires’ disease immediately after symptoms show up is necessary to rule out doubts about other forms of pneumonia and Pontiac’s fever. A combination of the following can help identify Legionnaires’ disease:

  • Urine test to check for legionella antigens.
  • Blood tests.
  • Lung tissue sample test.
  • Chest X-ray to evaluate infection in lungs.
  • In case of mental symptoms, computerized tomography or CT scan of brain.

How Is Legionnaires’ Disease Treated?

The only possible treatment of Legionnaires’ disease is the consumption of appropriate antibiotics. The treatment must be started at an early stage because advanced treatment methods are then required to deal with life-threatening complications. In some cases, hospitalization may also be required.


By : Natural Health News

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