Pneumonia is a common disease that can have more than 30 different causes and symptoms. It is a highly contagious lung infection characterized by inflammation of air sacs in one or both the lungs. The air sacs get filled with fluid or pus resulting in fever, chills, cough and breathing difficulty. It can be mild and sometimes even prove fatal. It affects people with weakened immune systems, older people above 65 years of age, infants and young children. it can be bacterial, viral or mycoplasmic.
CAUSES OF PNEUMONIA
it is caused by a variety of pathogens such as virus and bacteria. When these pathogens overpower our immune system, they cause pneumonia.
it is caused by a number of infectious agents, including viruses, bacteria and fungi. The most common are:
- Streptococcus pneumoniae – the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in children;
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) – the second most common cause of bacterial pneumonia;
- Respiratory syncytial virus is the most common viral cause of pneumonia;
- In infants infected with HIV, Pneumocystis jiroveci is one of the most common causes, responsible for at least one quarter of all pneumonia deaths in HIV-infected infants.
- Viral pneumonia it is caused by various viruses such as the influenza virus. More than viruses cause 1/3rd of the pneumonia cases.
- Mycoplasma pneumonia this is known as atypical pneumonia and shows different symptoms. It is caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae and causes mild pneumonia that affects all age groups.
SYMPTOMS OF PNEUMONIA
its symptoms can be mild to life threatening. They can include:
- Coughing that may produce phlegm (mucus)
- Sweating or chills
- Shortness of breath that happens while doing normal activities or even while resting
- Chest pain that’s worse when you breathe or cough
- Feelings of tiredness or fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
- Children under 5 years old may have fast breathing or wheezing.
- Infants may appear to have no symptoms, but sometimes they may vomit, lack energy, or have trouble drinking or eating.
- Older people may have milder symptoms. They can also exhibit confusion or a lower than normal body temperature.
Pneumonia can be spread in a number of ways. The viruses and bacteria that are commonly found in a child’s nose or throat can infect the lungs if they are inhaled. They may also spread via air-borne droplets from a cough or sneeze. In addition, it may spread through blood, especially during and shortly after birth. More research needs to be done on the different pathogens causing pneumonia and the ways they are transmitted, as this is of critical importance for treatment and prevention.
it can have complications, including:
- Bacteremia, in which bacteria spread into your blood. This can cause septic shock and organ failure.
- Trouble breathing, which might mean you need to use a breathing machine while your lungs heal.
- Fluid buildup between the layers of tissue that line your lungs and chest cavity. This fluid can also become infected.
- Lung abscess, when a pocket of pus forms inside or around your lung.
PREVENTION OF PNEUMONIA
To help prevent it:
- Get vaccinated. Vaccines are available to prevent some types of pneumonia and the flu. Talk with your doctor about getting these shots. The vaccination guidelines have changed over time so make sure to review your vaccination status with your doctor even if you recall previously receiving a pneumonia vaccine.
- Make sure children get vaccinated. Doctors recommend a different pneumonia vaccine for children younger than age 2 and for children ages 2 to 5 years who are at particular risk of pneumococcal disease. Children who attend a group child care center should also get the vaccine. Doctors also recommend flu shots for children older than 6 months.
- Practice good hygiene. To protect yourself against respiratory infections that sometimes lead to pneumonia, wash your hands regularly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Don’t smoke.Smoking damages your lungs’ natural defenses against respiratory infections.
- Keep your immune system strong.Get enough sleep, exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet.
TREATMENT OF PNEUMONIA
The main treatment is one or more antibiotics. A younger or healthier person can be treated safely with antibiotics at home and can feel better in a few days. Some people are at higher risk of complications and may need to be hospitalized for two days to a week. They include people who are older than 60 or have other diseases such as heart failure, active cancer, chronic kidney disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
In addition to antibiotics, other treatments include rest, adequate fluid, and supplemental oxygen to raise the level of oxygen in the blood.