GENERAL HEALTH

Pneumonia: Meaning, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

D
Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar
November 18th, 2020
5 mins read

Pneumonia is a highly contagious illness, but the risk of getting it can be lessened with vaccinations, respiratory hygiene, and the right information. It affects the lungs by causing them to fill with fluid or pus. As a result, the afflicted person finds it harder to breathe in the necessary oxygen for the body.

There are 4 types of pneumonia, which are as follows:

  • Aspiration pneumonia
  • Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP)
  • Hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP)
  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP)

Of these types, HAP is among the more serious ones as it may be caused by bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Regardless of the type, it is an illness that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Here’s an overview of the causes, symptoms, complications, and treatment for the disease.

Causes of pneumonia

Pneumonia causes are based on the type of organism that infects the lungs: bacteria, virus, or fungus.

Fungal pneumonia

Commonly caused by the fungus in bird droppings or from the soil, such an infection primarily affects those with suppressed or weakened immune systems. The types of fungi that cause it are Histoplasmosis species, Pneumocystis jirovecii, and Cryptococcus species.

Viral pneumonia

Among the milder forms of this disease, viral pneumonia can be treated at home and one can recover within a few weeks, generally one to three. There are a few common viruses that may cause pneumonia, namely, rhinoviruses, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus.

Bacterial pneumonia

In this case, the bacteria travel into the lungs and multiply. Generally, it can occur on its own or as a result of a previous sickness. There are multiple types of bacteria that can cause this, of which the Streptococcus bacteria is the most common.

What are its symptoms?

Pneumonia symptoms are often confused with that of the common cold as they share many commonalities. It can be indicated by other symptoms as well:

  • Coughing with mucus
  • Chills and sweating
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever, even up to 105°F
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Bluish lips
  • Fatigue and extreme tiredness

Health complications

The disease affects your lungs and can cause respiratory problems. It can worsen pre-existing conditions or cause other health complications if it is left untreated. People with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or weakened immune systems are prone to congestive heart failure or a heart attack. It can lead to serious health complications like:

Lung abscesses

Pneumonia can cause a bacterial infection in the lungs, which leads to the formation of pus within the cavities of the lungs. This makes it hard to breathe and a common solution is to have it drained before it causes lasting damage. In severe cases, surgery is required to clear the lung cavities.

Pleural effusion

The pleura are thin membranes that surround or line the chest cavity and lungs. With pneumonia, there is a possibility of fluid build-up in the pleura and this causes chest pain and shortness of breath.

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)

ARDS is a very serious and severe lung condition that prevents organs from getting the required amount of oxygen for optimal function. The fluid fills up in the lung’s air sacs. It can cause organ failure at worst and requires immediate medical care.

Bacteraemia

This is a condition in which the bacteria travel into the bloodstream and wreak havoc in the body. Low blood pressure, organ failure, or even septic shock are some of its common complications.

Treatment for pneumonia

Treatment for this disease varies based on the type of pneumonia. For the more serious cases, antibiotic and antifungal medication treats bacterial and fungal pneumonia. Viral pneumonia may be cured with home care. The best approach is to control the fever and relieve pain while the body heals.

In severe cases, treatment relies on hospitalisation and specialised care. Doctors will monitor vitals, administer antibiotics intravenously, or even resort to respiratory or oxygen therapy.

You should prioritise proper medical care even though you can treat the fever and pain with over-the-counter medication. Consult a general physician near you or a doctor who specialises in infectious diseases. To do so stress-free, you can use the healthcare platform provided by Bajaj Finserv Health and simplify the process of availing medical care altogether.

With it, you can find the nearest doctor clinics, book appointments online, and avail of telemedicine services too. What’s more, you also have to option to consult these specialists online via video, thus ensuring you can get diagnosed and treated without the need for a physical visit. It’s time to take your health in your hands and begin the journey to a healthy life.

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

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