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What Causes Bronchopneumonia & How Is It Treated?

About Bronchopneumonia:

Bronchopneumonia is a variant of pneumonia usually seen in people with a compromised immune system. Pneumonia causes inflammation of the lungs. The symptoms of pneumonia include problems with breathing, persistent bouts of coughing, and fever. Bacterial infection is the most common cause of pneumonia although viral and fungal infections may also cause it.[1]

Bacterial pneumonia is of two types of which one is termed as bronchopneumonia as it affects the lobes of the lungs. Bronchopneumonia may affect one or more lobes of the lungs. When seen on radiographs the affected area may show focus of condensation surrounded by normal parenchyma. The condensation is more pronounced in children than adults. This may be the reason why children tend to get severe symptoms of Bronchopneumonia than adults.[1]

According to the Center for Disease Control, different variants of pneumonia are responsible for more than 50,000 fatalities every year in the United States including Bronchopneumonia, especially in people above the age of 60 years. This article speaks about the potential causes for Bronchopneumonia and the treatment options available for it.[2]

What Causes Bronchopneumonia & How Is It Treated?

What Causes Bronchopneumonia and How Is It Treated?

Bacterial infection is the primary cause for Bronchopneumonia. Streptococcus Pneumoniae and Haemophilus Influenza type b are the offending bacteria responsible for causing this condition. At times, certain viruses and fungi can also cause Bronchopneumonia. The infection begins when bacteria enters the lungs and affects the air sacs and bronchi.[2]

The germs then settle there and start to multiply. The defense mechanism of the body gets activated to eliminate the invaders resulting in inflammation. This is when the individual starts experiencing symptoms. Some of the risk factors that may put an individual at risk for Bronchopneumonia include age. Children of a year of age or under are more susceptible to getting this condition. People above the age of 60 years with a compromised immune system are also at risk for developing this infection.[2]

People who abuse nicotine and alcohol are also at risk for developing Bronchopneumonia. Additionally, people who have had a recent respiratory infection are more likely to develop Bronchopneumonia than others. People with a history of COPD, cystic fibrosis, asthma, cardiac illness, diabetes, and liver dysfunction all are at an increased risk for Bronchopneumonia.[2]

People who take immunosuppressants for some other medical condition are at an increased risk for developing Bronchopneumonia. An untreated Bronchopneumonia may lead to severe complications especially in infants and the elderly or people with a compromised immune system.[2]

Studies estimate that around 900,000 children below 5 years of age succumbed to complications of pneumonia in the year 2010. The major complications that can arise from Bronchopneumonia include

Respiratory Failure: This occurs when the lungs start to fail resulting in interruption of the oxygen and carbon dioxide. This is quite a serious complication and the affected individual will have to be placed on a mechanical ventilator for breathing assistance.

Sepsis: This is yet another complication of Bronchopneumonia. It is an extremely serious condition where the infection spreads to the blood and starts damaging the vital organs of the body. It is a very tough condition to treat and becomes life threatening in no time.[2]

How is Bronchopneumonia Treated?

Treating Bronchopneumonia will depend on various factors to include the severity and duration of the disease and what has caused it. Individuals who are perfectly healthy and have no underlying medical condition recover from this condition within a span of three weeks. Just a period of rest and medication as prescribed by the physician is enough to take care of the infection.[2]

However, for severe cases of Bronchopneumonia the patient may have to be treated in an inpatient setting. Antibiotics are the preferred way of treating Bronchopneumonia caused due to a bacterial infection. Caution should be maintained while taking antibiotics in that the course prescribed by the physician ought to be completed and follow the recommendations of the physician diligently.[2]

For Bronchopneumonia caused due to vital infections then antiviral medications will be prescribed to treat the infection. It may take up to a month before Bronchopneumonia caused by a viral infection to clear away. During the recovery period, it is important for the patient to get plenty of rest. The patient should keep himself hydrated by drinking enough water and fluids.[2]

This will thin off the mucous and reduce the discomfort with coughing. Additionally, it is important to take all the medications as prescribed by the physician and follow instructions diligently.[2]

In conclusion, Bronchopneumonia is a variant of pneumonia which affects the lobes of the lungs. It is caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal infections. It is a completely treatable condition with medications and rest. However, people with a prior history of lung disorders or a compromised immune system need to be treated in a hospital to prevent complications, especially children and elderly people.[2]

If left untreated, Bronchopneumonia can cause life threatening complications. Thus it is recommended to follow the recommendations of the healthcare provider to hasten the recovery process and prevent any complications arising because of Bronchopneumonia.[2]


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 1, 2019

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