Pneumonia diagnosis

Multifocal Pneumonia Diagnosis Explained

In the most general terms, pneumonia is an infection of the lungs caused by inflammation of the air sacs, technically called the alveoli. These alveoli fill with fluid or pus, which leads to symptoms like cough, fever, and chills.


But pneumonia can be much more complicated than that—it can be caused by different things (a virus, bacteria, or fungus), acquired in different settings (in the community or in the hospital), and may even differ in the extent of infection that affects the lungs.


Multifocal pneumonia further narrows the diagnosis down to the amount of lung affected. Basically, multifocal pneumonia is a term used to describe pneumonia in different places in the lung, Raymond Casciari, MDpulmonologist and chief medical officer at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange, Calif., said Health. “Multifocal could be two points in the same lobe, or two points in different lobes,” Casciari said.




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To better understand what multifocal pneumonia is, you first need to know a bit about lung biology. Your lungs are made up of sections called lobes that look like little balloons filled with sponge-like tissue, depending on the American Lung Association (TO THE). Your right lung is divided into three lobes and your left lung has two lobes.


Health care providers may further break down multifocal pneumonia by calling it unilateral multifocal pneumonia and bilateral multifocal pneumonia, Shweta Sood, MD, MSpulmonologist and assistant professor of clinical medicine at Penn Medicine, said Health. “Unilateral pneumonia refers to pneumonia that only affects one lung, right or left,” Dr. Sood explained. “Bilateral pneumonia tends to affect both lungs.”





Technically, multifocal pneumonia can be caused by the same things that cause other types of pneumonia: viruses, bacteria, and fungi. But “if it’s multifocal, it’s more likely to be caused by a virus, as we’ve seen with COVID-19,” Khalilah Gates, MDpulmonary and intensive care specialist at Northwestern Medicine, said Health.


According to MedlinePlus from the National Library of Medicine.


Multifocal pneumonia can also be caused by bacteria like streptococcus pneumoniae Where legionella pneumophila, or fungi such as pneumocystis pneumonia, coccidioidomycosis, or cryptococci, Dr. Casciari said. “Having multifocal pneumonia doesn’t automatically mean what’s causing the pneumonia,” Dr. Casciari said. “We still have to investigate.”





Symptoms of multifocal pneumonia are generally the same as other types of pneumonia, but “in general, multifocal pneumonia tends to be more severe,” Dr. Casciari said.


Symptoms of pneumonia, according to National Heart, Lung and Blood Institutemay include:


  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sputum production
  • Chest pain when breathing or coughing


“Some patients can be very sick when they develop multifocal pneumonia,” Dr. Sood said. But, Dr Sood added, “most people may only have mild symptoms and be able to recover at home.”





Healthcare providers like to try to catch pneumonia early so they can treat it appropriately before it progresses too far, Dr. Gates said. But the actual treatment depends on what’s causing the pneumonia in the first place. “You have to find the cause,” Dr. Casciari said.


Once health care providers find out what is behind pneumonia, they will prescribe treatment based on that. “For patients with mild symptoms, treatment focuses on rest, hydration and good nutrition,” Dr. Sood said.


If the pneumonia is bacterial, the patient will be given antibiotics, Dr Sood said, but stressed that “most patients with viral pneumonia do not need antibiotics”. Instead, they can be treated with an antiviral drug like Tamiflu (oseltamivir) or Veklury (remdesivir) depending on the cause of the infection.


And, if a patient has fungal pneumonia, they will be treated with antifungal drugs, Dr. Casciari said.


A person’s overall health is important when recovering from multifocal pneumonia. “Most healthy people with minimal underlying medical conditions usually recover from pneumonia without problems over the course of several days,” Dr. Sood said. “Patients who have underlying health conditions can still recover well, but it may take longer. In very severe cases, pneumonia can lead to death.”


Yet many people with multifocal pneumonia eventually recover. “The main thing about multifocal pneumonia is getting the patient over the acute phase,” Dr. Casciari said. If we can [help do that]patients are generally well and the lungs are healing.”