The lungs are often exposed to all sorts of infections. One of the most common lung infections is pneumonia or acute bronchitis.
Chronic pneumonia is a disease that is caused by a micro-organism and lasts up to one and a half months. When chest radiography is performed, it shows focal or diffuse shadows. The frequency ofchronic chest infections is yet to be determined. It’s not a common illness but in most cases when they occur, they pose a problem when it comes to detection.
Recurrent pneumonia can be described as two or several attacks of the lower part of the respiratory tract. These attacks are followed by leucocytosis (high white blood cell count), fever as well as excessive production of sputum. The attacks are separated by the patient exhibiting no symptoms of the infection at intervals of atleast 4 weeks.
What Causes Chronic Pneumonia?
Slow glowing micro organisms are the cause of chronic pneumonia. Such micro organisms include mycobacteria and fungi. Sometimes, it is not possible to pin point chronic pneumonia, even when the specimens for the biopsy are studied histopathologically or cultured.
Common infections include:
- Tuberculosis (TB)
- Mycobacterium (non-tuberculosis)
Chronic Pneumonia Symptoms
Chronic pneumonia can develop at any age. Its symptoms creep in slowly such that it might take you days or even weeks to realise that you have chronic pneumonia. Some of the signs that you might experience include chest pains, night sweats, difficulty in breathing, wheezing, fatigue, fever and coughing. More specific symptoms of chronic pneumonia include:
- Fever that lasts a week
- Coughing for three weeks
- Swollen glands (lymph nodes) on your arm pits and neck
- Coughing out blood
- Recurrence of symptoms when you finish your antibiotics dose
How to Diagnose Chronic Pneumonia
When you realise that the listed symptoms persist, consult your doctor on whether you require to be examined for chronic pneumonia. In most cases, this examination involves a repetition of CAT scans, x-rays and examining the phlegm for fungi or bacteria. In some instances, the doctor might use a camera to look at your throat for any form of infection through a process called bronchoscopy. It is important to mention to your doctor if you are taking any medicines that might compromise your immunity. When identified early, pneumonia is treatable.
When a blood test is conducted on a chronic pneumonia patient, the results will often show elevated levels of white blood cells as well as signs related to chronic inflammation. When the lungs are viewed via an endoscopy procedure or an x-ray they might appear obstructed. When viewed the doctor might observe changes in the insides of the lungs as well as the airways. This means that the chronic infection has caused excessive production of mucus, redness as well as other changes in the respiratory system.
Chronic Pneumonia Treatment
There are doctors that start treatment of pneumonia with antibiotics while others prefer to take out a sample from the lungs for further testing so as to find out what the cause of the infection is. Performing a culture is important as the doctor is able to know what organism has infected the patient, and what the best cause of action is. Specifically, cultures are important in the cases of organisms that prove to be drug resistant.
- Patients with chronic pneumonia should stay in well ventilated places, more so for those who experience difficulty in breathing as well as wheezing. Such patients are also given medication to help open their airways.
- Long-term damage is common in pneumonia patients. Lung capacity may be destroyed permanently, and in some cases the patients may be left with scars that could cause a breathing problem in future. Patients can take a longer time than expected to recover as the lungs require healing after the organisms have died. It is vital for a patient to complete their dose, rest as instructed and follow other instructions given pertaining to their lung health.
- During treatment, there are things you can do to help you feel better. They include sleeping and resting, drinking plenty of water and avoiding smoking. If your sleep is interrupted by coughing, ask for cough medication from your doctor.
What About Recurrent Pneumonia?
If you are treated, get well and then the pneumonia recurs, it might be a sign that your immune system or lungs have a problem. You are advised to take immunity tests if you have a case of recurrent pneumonia.
Symptoms of recurrent pneumonia may vary depending on the type. There are three different types of pneumonia - that is viral, bacterial and mycoplasmal. The intensity of the infection could also vary the symptoms of pneumonia. Most people experience a range of symptoms ranging from flu symptoms to severe medical conditions.
Bacterial infections cause bacterial pneumonia. These bacteria are found in the throat and due to weak immunity they spread to the lungs. When it gets to the lungs the air sacs get infected - meaning they get pus and produce excess mucus making breathing difficult. Treatment of this type of pneumonia is done using antibiotics.
Most pneumonia cases are as a result of viral pneumonia. Examples of virus include chickenpox, measles and influenza. Viral infections are not exactly treatable by use of antibiotics. Instead, they resolve with time.
Other causes of pneumonia (recurrent) include:
- Alien body aspiration