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Pneumonia-An Overwhelming Toll Types Causes Prevention Symptoms and Diagnosis

Pneumonia-An Overwhelming Toll Types Causes Prevention Symptoms and Diagnosis

Posted By HealthcareOnTime Team Posted on 2021-10-27

What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is one of the most solvable problems in global health and yet one child dies from the infection every 20 seconds. On this World Pneumonia Day let us highlight the severity of the disease and fight off this rival. It is an inflammation (swelling) of the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs and its surrounding tissue caused by infection. It often makes you feel pale and weak, as if you are unwell and cause sudden high fever, coughing and shortness of breath.

Pneumonia-An Overwhelming Toll Types Causes Prevention Symptoms and Diagnosis

Our airways and lung are constantly exposed to pathogens (microorganisms that cause infection or disease) in the external environment. Usually, there occurs an unintentional inhalation of these pathogens from the air we breathe. Our body usually prevents these pathogens by readily destroying or killing through lung's defense mechanisms. But, pneumonia develops when these defense mechanisms are compromised or when we inhale large doses of bacteria, or when a particularly infectious pathogen enter into the body Infection is developed when bacteria enter the bloodstream and reach lungs.

Economic Burden of Pneumonia
Pneumonia is most common fatal hospital-acquired infection, especially in developing countries, and infants and children are often affected with it. India, Pakistan, Nigeria, China and Indonesia contribute to more than 54% of all global pneumonia cases, with 32% of the global burden from India alone.

In India, a survey in 2010 reported that about 36 lakh cases of severe pneumonia and 3.5 lakh of all pneumonia deaths occurred in children younger than 5 years.

Pinning the causes of Pneumonia
Pneumonia is usually caused by bacteria, most commonly by bacteria called pneumococci. Other types of bacteria such as Haemophilus influenzae or Mycoplasma pneumoniae are also involved. If you develop pneumonia in the hospital (Nosocomial infection), it is often caused by an infection of bacteria that is difficult to treat.

If the airways are already infected by other pathogens, for eg. flu viruses, it is easy for the bacteria to grow there. This can result in bacterial pneumonia. It is less common for pneumonia to be caused by viruses alone. It can rarely be caused by fungi. That can mainly occur if the immune system is weak, especially in case of AIDS. Pneumonia can also be caused by factors besides pathogens, such as radiation, allergic reactions, inhaled poisonous substances or circulation issues in the lungs.

Knowing the Types of Pneumonia
Based on the types of infecting microorganisms, Pneumonia is categorized as
Community-acquired pneumonia It is a most common type. It occurs outside of hospitals or other health care facilities. It may be caused by
Bacteria (Streptococcus pneumoniae)- This type of pneumonia can occur after having a cold or flu. It may cause lobar pneumonia (affecting one part pneumonia (af (lobe) of the lung).
Bacteria-like organisms (Mycoplasma pneumoniae). It typically produces milder symptoms than other types do. "Walking" pneumonia is a non-medical term used for describing a mild case of community- acquired pneumonia, which typically is not severe enough to require bed rest.
Fungi Most common in people with weakened immune systems and chronic health problems, also, in people who have inhaled large doses of the organisms.
Viruses Some of the viruses that cause colds and the flu can cause pneumonia. Most common cause of pneumonia is seen in children younger than 5 years. It is usually mild. But in some cases it can be dangerous too.

Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia It is a pneumonia infection that occurs during a hospital stay for another illness. It is usually serious because the infecting bacteria may be more resistant to antibiotics and also due to weakened immunity of people who get it. People who are on ventilators are at greater risk of getting infected with this type.

Health care-Acquired Pneumonia It is a bacterial infection that occurs in health care setting other than the hospital, such as a nursing home or dialysis center, or who live in long-term health care facilities. Like hospital acquired pneumonia, health care-acquired pneumonia can be caused by bacteria that are more resistant to antibiotics .

Aspiration Pneumonia It occurs when infecting microorganism enters the lungs or when saliva or water droplets of an infected patient are inhaled (droplet infection). But, one may even become ill due to inhaling food , drink or saliva and not clearing from the lungs. Aspiration occurs in people who have had strokes, or with decreased level of consciousness due to sedating drugs, alcohol, or other reasons.

Obstructive Pneumonia which occurs when a blockage of the air passages in the lungs (such as from a tumor) causes bacteria to accumulate behind the blockage.
High fever and shaking chills
Cough with phlegm
Shortness of breath
Chest pain while breathing or coughing
Confusion (in adults age 65 and older

Signs and Typical Symptoms of pneumonia are:
All symptoms do not always occur at the same time particularly in children (Newborns and infants) and older people. Less typical symptoms such as diarrhea, stomach pains or drowsiness and confusion might be more noticeable.

Risk factors of pneumonia are
Pneumonia may affect anyone, but the two of the age groups at highest risk are
Children till 2 years of age or younger.
People who are 65 years old or older than that.

Other risk factors include
Chronic disease More likely to get pneumonia if one has asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or Heart disease.
Weakened immune system People who have HIV or AIDS, the ones who have had an organ transplant, who have received chemotherapy or long-term steroids are at risk.
Being hospitalized At higher risk if hospitalized, especially if on ventilator
Smoking It damages the body's natural defenses against the bacteria and viruses causing pneumonia.

Accompanying Complications Even with treatment, some people with pneumonia, especially those in high-risk groups, may experience complications, that include
Bacteria in the Bloodstream (Bacteremia) Can spread the infection to other organs, potentially causing organ failure.
Difficulty in Breathing If the pneumonia is severe or there is a chronic underlying lung disease, one may experience trouble breathing in enough oxygen. May need hospitalization and use a ventilator till the lung heals.
Fluid Accumulation Around the Lungs (Pleural Effusion) Pneumonia may cause fluid to build up in the thin space between layers of tissue that line the lungs and chest cavity (pleura). If the fluid becomes infected, it may need to be drained through a chest tube or removed with surgery.
Lung Abscess An abscess occurs if pus forms in the lung cavity. It is usually treated with antibiotics . Sometimes, surgery or drainage with a long needle or tube placed into the abscess is required to remove the pus.

Diagnosing pneumonia
An X-ray of the lungs is usually taken which can reveal where and how much of the lung tissue is inflamed. PET-CT Scan is sometimes needed. Changes in the outer regions of the lungs can also be viewed using ultrasound.

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Blood, urine and coughed up mucus (phlegm) can be tested in a laboratory to find out exactly which microorganisms caused the inflammation. Blood tests can be done to measure the level of inflammation or to check the oxygen content of the blood. This can also be done without the blood, using pulse oximetry, where a clip with a light sensor is placed onto the fingers to optically measure the oxygen content.

Prevention of pneumonia
Generally, practicing personal hygiene, like regularly washing your hands, is the best way to prevent respiratory infections. Getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet may also help.
Vaccinations are also recommended for people who have an increased risk of pneumonia or its complications. For example, children can be vaccinated against the Haemophilus influenzae bacteria and pneumococci. Flu and pneumococci vaccinations are also suitable for people over 60 years of age.

Treating Pneumonia - Paving the way to Wellness
Because the infection is usually bacterial, pneumonia is typically treated with antibiotics which depends on the type of bacteria. If the pneumonia was caused by viruses, other drugs are needed, like a virostatic against flu viruses. Treatment lasts about 5 to 7 days. The antibiotic can be taken as a tablet or syrup, depending on the severity of the illness and the risk of complications. Treatment in a hospital may sometimes be needed. Cough medicines from the pharmacy, special breathing exercises or physiotherapy are not recommended for treating pneumonia.

No more Gasping for Breath... It's time to Safeguard ourselves from Pneumonia


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