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General Practice 2023

Pneumocystosis: what é, symptoms and treatment

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Pneumocystosis: what é, symptoms and treatment
Pneumocystosis: what é, symptoms and treatment

Pneumocystosis is an opportunistic infectious disease caused by the fungus Pneumocystis jirovecii, which affects the lungs and causes difficulty breathing, dry cough and chills, for example.

This disease is considered opportunistic because it usually occurs in people who have a compromised immune system, such as those who have AIDS, have had a transplant or are undergoing chemotherapy, for example.

Treatment for pneumocystosis is performed according to the recommendation of the pulmonologist, and the use of antimicrobial drugs for about 3 weeks is generally indicated.

Main symptoms

The symptoms of pneumocystosis are not very specific, which can cause it to be confused with other lung diseases. The main symptoms of this disease are:

  • Fever;
  • Dry cough;
  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Chills;
  • Chest pain;
  • Excessive fatigue.

Pneumocystosis symptoms usually evolve quickly and persist for more than 2 weeks, and it is important to consult a general practitioner or pulmonologist for tests to be carried out and a diagnosis can be made.

Diagnosis of pneumocystosis

The diagnosis of pneumocystosis is made by the physician based on the results of the chest X-ray, bronchoalveolar lavage and bronchoscopy, in which changes in the lung tissue and pulmonary infiltrate are observed, indicating pneumocystosis. In addition, the doctor may recommend collecting sputum, for example, to check microscopically for the presence of the fungus, as it does not grow in the appropriate culture medium for the fungus.

To complement the diagnosis of pneumocystosis, the doctor may recommend the dosage of the enzyme Lactate Dehydrogenase (LDH), which is elevated in these cases, and arterial blood gas analysis, which is an exam that checks the functioning of the lungs, including the amount of oxygen in the blood, which in the case of pneumocystosis is low. Understand what arterial blood gases are and how it is performed.

How the treatment is done

Treatment for pneumocystosis recommended by the general practitioner or pulmonologist involves the use of antimicrobials, and the use of Sulfamethoxazole-Trimethoprim, orally or intravenously, for about 3 weeks is usually indicated.

However, when this treatment does not result in improvement of the patient, the doctor may opt for the second line of treatment, which is done with another antimicrobial, Pentamidine, which is for intravenous use and is usually indicated for 3 weeks.

It is important that the treatment indicated by the doctor is followed according to his recommendation to prevent the fungus from proliferating and further interfering with the patient's immune system, causing complications and even death.

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