Community-acquired pneumonia: An overview
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Community-acquired pneumonia is still a significant cause of morbidity and mortality and is often misdiagnosed and inappropriately treated. Although it can be caused by a wide variety of micro-organisms, the pneumococcus, atypicals, such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Chlamydophila pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus and certain Gram-negative rods are the usual pathogens encountered. The site-of-care decision is critical in determining the site and type of care as well as the extent of diagnostic workup. Antimicrobial therapy should be started as soon as possible particularly in those requiring admission to hospital, but typically the physician does not know with any degree of certainty the identity of the etiologic pathogen. A number of national guidelines have been published to help the physician with this choice. The initial drug(s) can be modified if necessary if the pathogen and its antimicrobial susceptibility pattern becomes known. Adjunctive therapy such as pressors and fluid replacement are of value and macrolides appear to help as well, likely secondary to their immunomodulatory effects. Recent data also suggest a role for steroids.
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