Pneumonia: Symptoms, Causes, Types and Treatment
Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs. The infection causes inflammation in the air sacs in your lungs, which are called alveoli. The alveoli fill with fluid or pus, making it difficult to breathe.
The germs that cause pneumonia are contagious. This means they can spread from person to person. Both viral and bacterial pneumonia can spread to others through inhalation of airborne droplets from a sneeze or cough. It can also spreads by contact with surfaces or objects that are contaminated with pneumonia-causing bacteria or viruses.
Symptoms of Pneumonia
Symptoms can be mild to life-threatening. They can include:
- Cough with phlegm
- Sweating or chills
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
Types and Causes of Pneumonia
There are several types and causes of pneumonia.
- Bacterial Pneumonia. The most common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae.
- Viral Pneumonia. Respiratory viruses are also the cause of pneumonia such as influenza,rhinoviruses.
- Fungal Pneumonia. Fungi from soil can cause pneumonia. They often cause pneumonia in people with weakened immune systems.
Pneumonia can also be classified according to where or how it was acquired.
- Hospital Acquired Pneumonia. This type of bacterial pneumonia is acquired during hospital stay.
- Community Acquired Pneumonia. It refers to pneumonia that's acquired outside of a medical or institutional setting.
- Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia. When people who are using ventilator get pneumonia, it's called as VAP.
- Aspiration Pneumonia. It happens when you inhale bacteria into your lungs from food, drink or saliva.
Treatment for Pneumonia
Treatment depends on type of pneumonia and how severe is.
Oral antibiotics can treat most cases of bacterial pneumonia. Antibiotics don't work on viruses. In some cases antiviral medications can be prescribed.
Antifungal medications are used to fight fungal pneumonia. Full course of medications should be taken to clear the infection and for further prevention.
If the symptoms are severe, you may need to be hospitalized. Hospital treatment may include intravenous antibiotics, respiratory therapy and oxygen therapy.
Risk Factors for Pneumonia
Anyone can get pneumonia, but certain group do have a higher risk. These groups include:
- People of age 65 and older.
- People with weakened immune system.
- People with asthma, diabetes or heart failure.
- People who've recently had a respiratory infection.
- People who smoke, use certain types of drugs.
- People who've been exposed to lung irritants.
Prevention of Pneumonia
The first line of defense is to get vaccinated. There are several vaccines that can help to prevent pneumonia and they include Prevnar 13, Pneumovax 23, Flu vaccine, Hib vaccine.
And other prevention tips are:
- Try to quit smoke.
- Regularly wash your hands with soap.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Maintain healthy lifestyle to strengthen your immune system.