Pneumonia: how you get it, how you treat it
January 8, 1997
Web posted at: 9:00 p.m. EST (0030 GMT)
(CNN) -- A bad case of the flu has landed Russian President Boris Yeltsin in the hospital with signs of pneumonia, an illness that can turn fatal if untreated.
Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs due to infection, and is caused either by bacteria or viruses. The majority of patients recover completely within two weeks.
Noted U.S. heart surgeon Michael DeBakey, a consultant on Yeltsin's heart bypass surgery in November, said he expected the Russian leader to recover promptly.
"I expect him to be all right," DeBakey said in a CNN interview from Houston.
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DeBakey and Yeltsin's doctors said the heart surgery had nothing to do with Yeltsin's illness, and did not increase his risk of recovery.
The American Medical Association's Encyclopedia of Medicine says it is common for people with the flu to develop a secondary bacterial infection, particularly in the elderly and in those with heart or lung disease. It may cause fatal pneumonia, bronchitis or bronchiolitis.
The symptoms of pneumonia include fever and shortness of breath. Mild pneumonia can be treated at home, with
hospitalization in more severe cases.
Antibiotics are prescribed if the inflammation is caused by bacteria.
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