Pneumonia is a disease that affects your lungs and can occur due to various different reasons. It can be considered as a serious disease and can sometimes lead to grave consequences.
Pneumonia almost always starts when you acquire an infection, bacterial, fungal or viral in nature.
Your lungs are composed of very tiny sac-like structures known as the alveoli. As soon as you start experiencing pneumonia, your lungs start inflaming and these alveoli get filled up with fluid.
Pneumonia can hit people of all ages but is said to be more dangerous for infants, older people and people already suffering from other diseases.
According to an estimate, 1 million people in the United States are enrolled in hospitals for the treatment of pneumonia every year. Around 50,000 people are estimated to die of this disease. Most of these deaths caused by pneumonia can be prevented with proper treatment and vaccination courses.
Why Does Pneumonia Hit You?
The reasons why you can fall a victim to pneumonia are the viruses and bacteria. These pathogens are capable of settling in the alveoli as the person breathes them it. As soon as these pathogens reach the alveoli, they start multiplying at a rapid rate.
As the pathogens grow and induce an infection, our body rapidly responds by attacking them with white blood cells. This is the reason why patients experience inflammation of the lungs. The lungs gradually become filled with pus and fluid, pneumonia starts spreading.
Risk Factors Of Developing Pneumonia
Pneumonia can hit anyone, but there are certain groups of people who are more prone to developing this infection. These people include:
- Children under 5 years of age
- People more than 65 years of age
- People who are on medicinal course for gastroesophageal reflux disease
- People with weak immune system
- Smokers who use tobacco or consume alcohol in large amounts
- People who have been exposed to specific pollutants
- Patients hospitalized in the ICUs
- Malnourished people
- People suffering from other diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), or cystic fibrosis
How Pneumonia Manifests Itself
Signs and symptoms of pneumonia can vary according to the severity of infection and the general health of the patient. The most common manifestation of pneumonia include the following:
- Pain in chest
- Fever, chills and sweating
- Shortness of breath
- A cough with mucus
Symptoms can also be divided into two categories depending on the cause of infection and the age of the patient.
- Symptoms According To Cause
In bacterial pneumonia, the patient usually suffers from a fever that can go as high as 105°F. This can be accompanied by bluing of lips, profuse sweating and confusion.
Viral pneumonia begins with flu-like symptoms, for example wheezing. This is followed by a high fever in 12 to 36 hours after the wheezing begins.
- Symptoms According To Age
Children below 5 years of age can experience an increase in the breathing rate.
Older people suffer from a drop in their normal body temperature.
Infants are subjected to vomiting and lack of energy. They also face trouble in eating or drinking anything.
Treatment For Pneumonia
The treatment plan for pneumonia varies according to the severity of disease and can involve hospitalization in some cases.
Treatment Through Medication
Doctors can prescribe antiviral, antibiotic or antifungal medicines according to the cause of infection. Generally, bacterial pneumonia is often treated at home with the help of oral antibiotics and improvement is observed in 1 to 3 days.
Some people are recommended some OTC drugs for relieving fever and body pain. These drugs may include acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Additionally, medicines for a cough may also be recommended for you to take rest and get rid of your cough attacks.
Treatment At Home
You can also take care of pneumonia at home by following these simple steps:
- Follow the instructions provided by the doctor
- Take rest
- Stay hydrated and drink lots of fluids
Treatment At Hospital
Some patients have to be managed by admitting them in the hospital. Such patients are checked continually for their temperature, heart rate and breathing. They are usually treated with intravenous antibiotics.
In some cases, the medicines are directly introduced to the lungs via respiratory therapy. In case the patient is not breathing normally, oxygen may also be provided to him via face mask or nasal tube.