Pneumonia: Cause, Symptoms & Treatments

Pneumonia is a common lower respiratory infection that can get easily from many sources. To know the cause of pneumonia can give us instruction of how to treat and prevent the disease.

Human nasal passages are lined with mucosa and hair to protect from microbes, dust and other infectious agents. When the nasal mucosa is unable to prevent this from happening, these infectious agents tend to settle in the internal organs and divide profusely, leading to diseases.

Pneumonia is one such condition where microbes settle in the alveoli, also known as air sacs, and cause accumulation of fluid (mixture of cellular debris, respiratory secretions, dead blood cells and microbes). Pneumonia is alife threatening condition if left unattended.

Causes of pneumonia

The Most Common Cause

  • Ÿ   Bacteria

Certain bacteria such as streptococci can cause pneumonia after a common cold attack. Bed rest, along with proper treatment is needed to cure such bacterial infections. In other cases, community-acquired bacteria and some bacteria like microbes can also cause pneumonia. Although pneumonia caused from mycoplasma is not severe, it may still have devastating consequences if left unchecked.

  • Ÿ   Viruses

Viruses responsible for causing flu can further aggravate pneumonia if treatment is not proper, or in situations when the person’s immunity is compromised (such as HIV). Influenza virus has been known to cause pneumonia with acute respiratory attacks, but usually viral pneumonias are not as severe as bacterial ones.

  • Ÿ   Fungi

Fungal pneumonia is usually reported in individuals who consumefungal contaminated foods or waste material such as bird feces or infected meat. It has been observed that individuals with vulnerable or weak immune system are at much higher risk of developing severe disease than immunocompetent individuals.

Pneumonia Acquired in Healthcare Facilities

  • Ÿ   Hospital-acquired Pneumonia

In a hospital, carelessness, poor hygiene or disinfection error can result in hospital acquired pneumonia. Such kind of pneumonia is caused by species of certain pathogenic microbes that are usually drug resistant and so difficult to treat.

  • Ÿ   Health Care-acquired Pneumonia

People who are in constant exposure to hospital, environment and procedures such as follow-up checkup’s and dialysis etc., are at much higher risk of developing this variety of pneumonia, which is also hard to treat.

Pneumonia Acquired Through Inhaling

It is also called aspiration pneumonia. When solid or liquid substances (that are traditionally meant to pass through the esophagus) accidently pass into the lungs, the risk of such kind of pneumonia increases. Certain drugs and alcoholism can also cause increase the risk of aspiration pneumonia.

Risk Factors of Pneumonia

  • ŸAge: Children and elderly, who often get sick, are high risk of contracting pneumonia.
  • ŸChronic illness: Chronic illnesses, such as kidney disorders, lung related diseases and diabetes, have high chances of developing pneumonia, especially from the drug-resistant strains.
  • ŸWeak immune system: Patients of AIDS, SLE or other immunodeficiency diseases are at risk of acquiring pneumonia. They do not have a defense system that is strong enough to fight infections, which is why they catch pneumonia from any strain they are exposed to.

Symptoms of Pneumonia

  • ŸCommon Symptoms: These are the most widely observed symptoms in almost all patients of pneumonia. Primary symptoms include fever (mostly high-grade, but low-grade is also reported). Other primary symptoms include chills and shivering, persistent coughing and difficulty in breathing. The symptoms seem to aggravate with high stress levels, physical exercise and other forms of stressors. Furthermore, headache, loss of appetite, malaise, lethargy, excessive chest pain and increased sweat production arealso reported by the patients of pneumonia.
  • ŸSymptoms of Pneumonia Caused by Bacteria: Bacterial infectionsoften present with high-grade fever, excessive sweating and shivering, high breathing rate and alteration of the mental status of a person (in severe cases).
  • ŸSymptoms of Pneumonia Caused by Virus: Key symptoms include lethargy, high-grade fever, and shortness of breath. Alongside dry cough and muscular pain is also reported.

When to See a Doctor

If you feel uncomfortable after a cold or flu suddenly, or if you cough, feel pain in chest or have a fever, see your doctor at once.

Treatment of Pneumonia

Home remedies

Some home remedies can help dealing with symptoms of pneumonia. Taking enough rests and peaceful sleeping can help in dealing with fatigue and discomfort. Drinking lots of water helps in clearing up the lungs. Take regular medications as prescribed and make sure you follow the course of medicines. Seek medical assistance if your symptoms are not improving or worsening despite medications.

Medications

Medications include a combination of different drugs to treat different symptoms.For example, antibiotics for bacterial pneumoniaalong with a cough medicine and an anti-pyretic agent can reduce fever. For fungal or viral pneumonia, anti-viral and anti-fungal medicines are given in combination with other drugs. In some cases, hospitalization may be needed if pneumonia has progressed to advanced or severe stages. In other cases, if resistant strains of bacteria are found, multiple antibiotics may be administered.

Prevention of Pneumonia

1.   Take Vaccine

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) is a common vaccination when a child is born. Adults can get pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV) or PCV, depending on various things. Other vaccines can be taken to avoid diseases that may lead to pneumonia, such as measles, chickenpox, flu, etc.

2.   Wash Hands often

Maintain healthy person hygiene. Washing your hands often can reduce the ratio of getting bacteria or virus infection.

3.   Keep Away from People Infected

If you belong to the people who are at high risk of getting pneumonia, or you haven’t gotten vaccine, you should pay special attention to the infected people and stay away with them.

4.   Don’t Smoke

The best ways to avoid pneumonia is to stay away from smoking. If you smoke, you will have a higher risk of getting pneumonia.

Since smoking has great effect on your lung and pneumonia, get some tips to quit smoke from the video:

 

Recommended:

Why Does My Chest Hurt When I Cough?

If you or your child brings up the point, “My chest hurts when coughing,” it may not be dangerous. However, severe chest pain or trouble breathing can be serious.

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