Lung Infection: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Vaccination, Risks
What is Lung Infection?
Infection occurring in the lungs is known as lung infection. This infection can occur in the smaller air sacs of the lungs, which is termed as pneumonia; or the infection can occur in the larger airways of the lungs which is then termed as bronchitis. In lung infection, there is accumulation of mucus and pus along with swelling in airways which makes it difficult for the patient breath.
Most of the lung infections are viral in nature. So antibiotics do not help in curing viral lung infection; however, antibiotics may be needed to help in recovery from lung infection.
Individuals suffering from chronic health conditions and elderly people should get flu vaccination every year and pneumococcal vaccine once in every five years.
Who is at Risk for Lung Infection?
People from any age group can get affected with lung infections; however, elderly and young children are at an increased risk for lung infection, which can become more serious. Sick people and people who smoke are also at increased risk for lung infections.
What are the Causes of Lung Infection?
Lung infection is primarily caused by virus, bacteria and mycoplasma.
What are the Symptoms of Lung Infection?
Symptoms of Lung Infection depend on the patient’s age, the severity and the cause of lung infection, and whether the patient is suffering from any other health problems. Common symptoms of Lung Infection are:
- Coughing with brown or green-colored phlegm.
- Fast or difficult breathing.
- Chest pain.
- Feeling unwell.
- Fever, shivering, chills and sweating.
- Stomach pain.
- Loss of appetite.
- General aches and pains.
A child suffering from lung infection may vomit, have diarrhea and be lethargic or irritable.
How is Lung Infection Diagnosed?
Tests, such as chest x-ray, blood tests and sputum culture help with the diagnosis of lung infection.
What is the Treatment for Lung Infection?
Patients suffering from bronchitis can be treated at home and have a complete recovery. If the lung infection is severe, then patient needs hospitalization. Treatment options for lung infection include:
- The doctor will prescribe medications depending of the cause and severity of the lung infection.
- Patient will feel better within 2 days of taking antibiotics if it is bacterial lung infection. Patient may have cough for days or weeks. For certain lung infections, the recovery is slower. Patient will feel weak for some time and require extensive bed rest.
- Some patients suffering from lung infection may need to be admitted to the hospital, especially the elderly and young children as they are at an increased risk of complications occurring from lung infection.
- The doctor will review the patient’s condition within 48 hours to assess the patient’s improvement. The patient is again reviewed in six weeks with chest x-ray to ensure that complete recovery has been achieved.
Self-Care in Lung Infection
- Finish your entire course of antibiotics and other medications even after you are feeling better.
- It is important to rest for the initial few days.
- Patient should drink plenty of fluids.
- Patient should prop up on a couple of pillows at night, which will make it easier to sleep.
- Patient should quit smoking or at least abstain from smoking until he/she recovers from lung infection.
- If there is high fever, trouble breathing or worsening of symptoms then patient needs to go to the nearest ER.
Vaccination for Lung Infection
Vaccination helps in cutting down the risk for certain types of lung infection. Elderly people and individuals with chronic health conditions should be vaccinated against bacterial pneumonia. For children, a different vaccine is used. Individuals with chronic health issues and elderly individuals should take flu vaccination every year before the start of the winter and pneumococcal vaccine every five years.