Pneumonia– This is a pathological condition of lungs in which the air sacs present in the lungs get inflamed and there is fluid buildup in the air sacs resulting in chronic cough and shortness of breath. Pneumonia can be extremely mild or can become a life threatening condition. This condition is especially serious for young children and the elderly population.
What Is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia as stated is an infection wherein the air sacs present in the lungs get inflamed. This can be unilateral or bilateral which means both the lungs. This condition causes the air sacs to get filled with pus or fluid resulting in chronic productive cough, fever, and shortness of breath. Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, virus, or fungi. In terms of severity, it can be mild to extremely serious condition, especially in children and the elderly people who already have underlying health problems and have a compromised immune system. Usual forms of treatment for Pneumonia are antibiotics and antiviral drugs.
What Are The Causes Of Pneumonia?
The most common cause of Pneumonia is bacteria and virus present in the environment. Usually, the antibodies present in the bodies prevent the infectant to infiltrate our body but at times these germs overpower the immune system and can cause infection.
What Are The Types Of Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is classified into three main categories
- Community Acquired Pneumonia
- Hospital Acquired Pneumonia
- Healthcare Acquired Pneumonia
Community Acquired Pneumonia: This is the most common type of pneumonia. Such types of pneumonia are usually caused by:
- Bacteria: Bacteria like Streptococcus Pneumoniae is the root cause for Community Acquired Pneumonia and generally occur after a bout of cold or flu. This type of pneumonia affects a single lobe of the lung. Another bacterium known to cause pneumonia is the Mycoplasma Pneumoniae. This bacterium causes extremely mild form of pneumonia and pneumonia caused by these bacteria is often at times referred to as Sleeping Pneumonia and it does not require any specific treatment.
- Virus: Viruses that cause common cold and flu symptoms can also cause pneumonia, especially in children under two years of age. This type of pneumonia is generally mild.
- Fungi: This type of pneumonia typically occurs from bird droppings present in contaminated soil. Pneumonia caused from fungi is usually found in the people who already have an underlying disease and have a compromised immune system.
Hospital Acquired Pneumonia: This type of pneumonia affects people after being in the hospital setting for some reason for more than a couple of days. This type of pneumonia can be difficult to treat as the bacteria causing it may be quite resistant to usual antibiotics. This is especially common in people who are on mechanical ventilation
Healthcare Acquired Pneumonia: This type of pneumonia occurs in people who have been treated in dialysis centers and other clinics or live in care facilities. Pneumonia caused due to this is also more resistant to treat with usual antibiotics.
Apart from the above mentioned categories of pneumonia, there is also one category of pneumonia called as Aspiration Pneumonia. This type of pneumonia is caused when an individual inhales food, drink, or saliva into the lungs. This usually happens after excessive intake of alcohol or drugs or a swallowing problem. Some type of brain injuries can also cause this to happen.
Who Is At Risk For Developing Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a medical condition which has the potential to affect anyone but more prone to this disease are:
- Infants and children younger than two years of age
- People greater than 70 years of age
Some Of The Other Risk Factors For Pneumonia Are:
- Disease conditions like asthma, COPD, or any heart problem
- Compromised immune system due to HIV, organ transplantation, chemotherapy or chronic steroid use
- Smoking is also a factor which increases the risk for Pneumonia
What Are The Symptoms Of Pneumonia?
Some Of The Symptoms Of Pneumonia Are:
- Excessive sweating
- Low body temperature
- Productive cough producing a sticky fluid
- Chest pain with coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle pains
How Is Pneumonia Diagnosed?
In case if an individual experiences the above symptoms and treating physician suspects pneumonia then the following tests can be done:
- Chest X-Rays: This will show the condition of the lungs and will confirm the presence of fluid accumulation in the lungs.
- Blood Tests: These tests will confirm the presence of infection and even help in identifying the type of organism causing the infection, although identification may not be accurate.
- Pulse Oximetry: This can be done to determine the level of oxygen in the blood, as pneumonia can prevent enough oxygen to flow from the lungs to other parts of the body.
- Sputum Test: This test is done to virtually confirm the organism causing the infection.
In case if the affected individual is above the age of 70, then the following may be recommended:
- Pleural Fluid Culture: This can be done to determine the type of infection.
- Bronchoscopy: This can be done to look at the airways and determine if there is some blockage
What Are Treatments For Pneumonia?
The treatment for Pneumonia is dependent on the type and severity of the disease, the age of the affected individual, and the immune condition.
Some Of The Options For Treatment Are:
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics are used to treat basically bacterial pneumonia. It takes usually a couple of days for the symptoms to improve after administration of the treatment.
- Antivirals: These medications are used to treat viral forms of pneumonia. It takes a few weeks for the Symptoms to improve.
- Medications like aspirin or ibuprofen for symptoms relief
- Cough medications to bring down the chronicity of the cough.
Hospitalization May Be Required In Cases Of:
- Affected individual being more than 70 years of age
- Individual starts having altered mentation
- Unable to take oral medications due to vomiting
- Development of hypotension
- Rapid breathing
Home Remedies For Pneumonia
Some Of The Home Remedies For Pneumonia Are:
- Adequate rest
- Staying away from work/school for a few days until the symptoms calm down
- Consumption of adequate fluids to keep the body hydrated
- Completing the course of the medications prescribed by the physician diligently even after there is improvement of symptoms
How Can Pneumonia Be Prevented?
Some Ways To Prevent Pneumonia From Occurring Is:
- Getting seasonal flu shots
- Getting Pneumonia vaccination
- Practicing good hygiene
- Smoking cessation
- Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet.