Pneumocystis Pneumonia

What is pneumocytis pneumonia?

It is a kind of infection caused due to the fungus called Pneumocystis jirovecii. The fungus is microscopic and lives in the lungs of people. PCP is a rare disease which may affect healthy people. The condition is called as opportunistic infection as it affects people when their immune system becomes weak. Apart from the lungs, Pneumonocystis jirovecii may affect the other part of the body such as the liver, lymph nodes and bone marrow. Fortunately, the condition is preventable and treatable.

What are the signs and symptoms of PCP?

During primary stages of the condition, PCP may not cause symptoms. After the period, it may cause symptoms such as:

  • Dry, mild cough

  • Fever

  • Fatigue

  • Major weight loss

  • Rapid breathing

  • Shortness of breath during activities

How the condition is diagnosed?

The doctor will suggest certain medical tests to diagnose PCP:

  • Chest X-ray

  • Sputum induction

  • Blood tests

  • A bronchoscopy

  • Biopsy

How the condition is treated?

Antibiotics alone or in combination with other medicines will be prescribed for treating PCP. To avoid inflammation of the airways, the doctor may recommend steroids.

How is PCP prevented?

Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is the best method to prevent PCP. Vaccine therapy is not available to prevent pneumocystis pneumonia. Risk for PCP can be reduced with quitting smoking. Prophylactic therapy can also be effective for weakened immune system.