What is Pneumonia?

Conditions & Diseases, HEALTH

Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. These air sacs may fill with fluid or pus, leading to symptoms such as:

  • Cough with mucus or phlegm
  • Fever, often high-grade, with chills
  • Fast breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain while coughing
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Feeling very tired or weak
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Body pain
  • Severely affected patients may cough up blood or show cyanosis (a blue colour around the mouth due to a lack oxygen)

Causes of pneumonia:

  • It can be caused by bacteria or viruses, and rarely by fungi or mycoplasma. Fungal pneumonia is not infectious.
  • Bacterial and viral pneumonia spread through the inhalation of airborne droplets from coughing or sneezing.

Risk factors for pneumonia include:

  • Age: Children below 2 years and adults above 65 years are most vulnerable.
  • Being hospitalised in an intensive care unit or on a ventilator for a prolonged period.
  • Lung diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Smoking.
  • Having a weakened immune system due to conditions like HIV/AIDS, cancer, or organ transplants.

Complications of pneumonia can include:

  • Bacteremia: infection spreading to the bloodstream.
  • Lung abscesses: pus formation in lung cavities.
  • Impaired breathing: trouble getting enough oxygen; ventilator support may be required.
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome is a severe form of respiratory infection.
  • Pleural effusion: fluid buildup in the tissue lining the lungs.

Diagnosis involves reviewing medical history, physical examination, and lab test, including chest X-rays, blood culture, sputum culture, urine tests, pulse oximetry, and CT scans.

Treatment depends on the cause, symptoms, and severity:

  • Medication: antibiotics for bacterial pneumonia, antivirals for viral pneumonia, and antifungals for fungal pneumonia.
  • Oxygen therapy to maintain oxygen levels.
  • Self-care: rest, hydration, and avoiding strain on the body.

Consult a pulmonologist for specialised diagnoses and treatment of respiratory conditions.

Here are some important precautions and advice to help prevent and manage pneumonia:

  1. Vaccination: Ensure that you and your loved ones receive recommended vaccines. Pneumococcal vaccines and influenza vaccines are particularly crucial for preventing pneumonia.
  2. Good Hygiene Practices:
    • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing.
    • Avoid close contact with individuals who have respiratory infections.
  3. Stay Hydrated and Rested:
    • Adequate hydration and rest are essential for maintaining a strong immune system.
    • Get enough sleep to support your body’s defense mechanisms.
  4. Avoid Smoking and Secondhand Smoke:
    • Smoking damages the lungs and weakens the immune system.
    • Exposure to secondhand smoke can also increase the risk of respiratory infections.
  5. Seek Medical Attention Promptly:
    • If you experience symptoms such as persistent cough, difficulty breathing, chest pain, or high fever, consult a healthcare professional promptly.
    • Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for managing pneumonia effectively.
  6. Follow Your Doctor’s Recommendations:
    • If you are diagnosed with pneumonia, adhere to the prescribed medications and treatment plan.
    • Rest, stay hydrated, and take any necessary antibiotics.

Remember, prevention is key! Stay informed, take necessary precautions, and prioritize your health. 🌿🌡️