What is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection that affects the air sacs or alveoli in either one (Lobar Pneumonia) or both lungs. This causes inflammation as it fills the lungs up with fluids. There are different types of pneumonia, based on the cause of the infection.
Causes of Pneumonia
- Bacterial Infection
It is usually caused by bacteria such as streptococcus pneumoniae and mycoplasma pneumoniae. If it is not well treated, it could get worse and lead to blood infection and abscesses in the lungs.
- Fungal Infection
It is caused by various kinds of fungi; it is chronic and is common with people who have weakened immune systems.
- Viral Infection
Virus-related pneumonia is caused by the same virus that causes influenza.
Smoking is one of the major causes of all respiratory diseases. Smoking could cause pneumonia by reducing the body’s immunity and defense against bacteria and fungi.
- Weakened Immune System
- Hospital Environment
Pneumonia may be as a result of using breathing aids and machines such as ventilators. Pneumonia could also be contracted from infected patients — it is contagious.
Symptoms of Pneumonia
There are a number of symptoms of pneumonia that are similar to influenza. Your doctor is in the best position to diagnose the exact condition. Here are some of the common symptoms of pneumonia.
- Chest pain
- Cold or Flu
- Poor breathing
- Muscle aches
- Low body temperature
Symptoms of Severe Pneumonia
Pneumonia has various stages, and when it is severe, its symptoms vary from those listed above. Here are some symptoms of severe pneumonia.
Sepsis is an uncontrolled inflammation in the entire body, which may lead to extensive organ failure.
- Acute Respiratory Disease Syndrome (ARDS)
ARDS is the build-up of fluid in the tiny, elastic air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. The fluid prevents the lungs from having enough air, thereby preventing sufficient oxygen from getting to the bloodstream and organs.
- Lung Abscesses
This is excess fluid or sputum in the lungs.
Does Pneumonia Have a Cure?
There is a fuss about if pneumonia has a permanent cure or not. It actually does, but not all types of pneumonia do. Pneumonia that you get through viral infections may have no cure. You may just combat it with anti-viral drugs. Whatever you do, treat pneumonia early, as it may result in a more complicated condition if you don`t. The main purpose of treating pneumonia early is to prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body through the blood. Treatment always depends on the type of infection, its severity, patient`s age, and their medical history. We will take a quick look at the various treatments.
- If it is a bacterial infection, the doctor may administer anti-bacterial medications such as penicillin and erythromycin.
- The doctor may prescribe some cough medications to ease breathing and cough.
- The doctor may also prescribe pain relievers that are non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory, such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and acetaminophen to relieve pain and fever.
- A therapist may need to intervene in some cases.
In some severe cases of infection that involve patients who are less than five years old or those who are over sixty-five years old, there may be abnormal blood pressure levels, kidney failure, rapid breathing, and abnormally low temperature.
Recovering from Pneumonia
It may take two weeks or more to recover from pneumonia — it depends on the patient`s age and state of health. People who are middle-aged and older usually take longer.
Anyone recovering from mycoplasma pneumonia may be weak for a while and will need adequate rest to fully recover.
Home Remedies for Pneumonia
In addition to the doctor`s treatment, here are some quick fixes you can do at home.
- Take some peppermint to ease the pain in your throat and clear mucus.
- Drink some ginger tea or turmeric tea to ease the pain.
- Have warm baths.
- Inhale warm, damp air from a mixture of hot water and menthol to clear your airways.
- Hydrate often with warm beverages to clear phlegm.
- Get a lot of rest to aid cellular repair.
Tests Used to Diagnose Pneumonia
- Blood culture to confirm the presence of infection and its severity
- X-rays to determine the location of infections
- Pleural Fluid Test to confirm the presence of fluid in the space between the lungs
- Sputum analysis to test for lung infections
- Bronchoscopy to examine lung airways
How to Prevent Pneumonia
- Avoid smoking
- Wash your hands regularly in warm, soapy water
- When you can’t wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid being around people who have pneumonia
- Get enough rest
- Eat healthy diets
Pneumonia in Children
The World Health Organization reports that every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of pneumonia, and 16% of the deaths are of children below age 5, especially in low and middle-income countries.
Children are at greater risk of contracting pneumonia because their immune systems are still developing. However, children who are well fed, and are in favorable environments may fight the infection naturally.
Bacteria-related pneumonia such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Chlamydophila pneumoniae usually have milder symptoms in children. Bacteria-related pneumonia is contagious, so children may contract it at school, camps, or playgrounds.
Symptoms of Bacteria-Caused Pneumonia
- A dry cough
- A headache
- Flushed skin
- Difficulty breathing
- A bluish tint to the lips and nail beds
Viruses may also cause pneumonia in children, especially those of ages 4 and 5. This condition shares symptoms with other virus-related conditions.
Symptoms of Virus-Caused Pneumonia
- A sore throat
- Loss of appetite
- A cough
- Mild fever
- Nasal congestion
Here is a list of things you probably did not know about pneumonia.
- Pneumonia is one of the top reasons children are hospitalized in the United States.
- After childbirth, pneumonia is the most common reason for hospital admissions in the United States.
- Children who survive pneumonia have an increased risk of chronic lung cancer.
- Older people have a higher risk of having pneumonia, and they more often die from it when they do.
- Pneumonia is the most common cause of sepsis and septic shock.
- There are many kinds of microbes that cause pneumonia. None of them is responsible for as much as 10% of pneumonia cases.
- People who are between 17 and 65 years old constitute half the deaths from bacteremic pneumococcal pneumonia.
- There are vaccines for some types of pneumonia.
- Antibiotics may be effective to treat some bacteria that cause pneumonia, however, virus-caused pneumonia does not respond to antibiotics.
- There is growing resistance among bacteria that cause pneumonia.
- There are only a few treatments for most virus-caused pneumonia.
- Ventilator-associated pneumonia is usually caused by antibiotic-resistant microbes.
- Pneumonia, unlike other conditions, doesn`t get much attention from biomedical scientists and research funders.
Now that you Know…
It is highly important that you take preventive measures against pneumonia. Prevention is always a more affordable option. You should also ensure that children are safe, as they are more susceptible to pneumonia. Ensure that they are well nourished too. Studies show that breastfeeding is a reliable way to prevent pneumonia in children. Also, if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned, ensure you see a doctor.