Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lung, usually caused by an infection. It is an infection in one or both of your lungs. Many small germs, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi, can cause Pneumonia. It is not a single disease, it can have more than 30 different causes. Understanding the cause is important because Pneumonia treatment depends on its cause. The flu virus is the most common cause of viral Pneumonia in adults. Other viruses that cause Pneumonia include respiratory syncytial virus, rhinovirus, herpes simplex virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and more. Pneumonia can be very serious and can cause death, it tends to be more serious for infants and young children, older adults (people 65 years or older), people who have other chronic health problems, and people who have weak immune systems as a result of diseases or other factors.
Is Pneumonia Contagious ?
Pneumonia is an infection that causes the lung’s air sacs to fill up with fluid that are bacterial. So if you come in contact with someone suffering from bacterial pneumonia, it’s possible for those bacteria to be transmitted to you, although that might not necessarily cause you to develop pneumonia. Pneumonia is not spread nearly as readily as viral infections of the upper airway, it also stops being contagious when coughing stops, usually soon after the initiation of appropriate antibiotics.
Many small germs can cause Pneumonia. There are five main causes:-
- Other infectious agents, such as fungi – including pneumocystis
- Various chemicals
If you have Viral Pneumonia, you also are at risk of getting Bacterial Pneumonia.
The viruses and bacteria that are commonly found in a child’s nose or throat can infect the lungs if they are inhaled. They may also spread via air-borne droplets from a cough or sneeze. In addition, it may spread through blood, especially during and shortly after birth.
Risk Factors of Pneumonia
Risk factors include:-
- Cigarette Smoking
- Recent viral respiratory infection—a cold, laryngitis, influenza, etc.
- Difficulty swallowing (due to stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or other neurological conditions)
- Chronic lung disease such as COPD, bronchiectasis, or cystic fibrosis
- Cerebral palsy
- Other serious illnesses, such as heart disease, liver cirrhosis, or diabetes
- Living in a nursing facility
- Impaired consciousness (loss of brain function due to dementia, stroke, or other neurologic conditions)
- Recent surgery or trauma
- Having a weakened immune system due to illness, certain medications, and autoimmune disorders
The symptoms of Pneumonia include:
- Rapid or difficult breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Wheezing (more common in viral infections).
When Pneumonia becomes severe, children may experience lower chest wall in-drawing, where their chests move in or retract during inhalation (in a healthy person, the chest expands during inhalation). Infants may be unable to feed or drink and may also experience unconsciousness, hypothermia and convulsions.
Pneumonia Tests for Diagnosis
The doctor is likely order a chest x-ray if pneumonia is suspected. Some patients may need other tests, including:-
- Arterial blood gases to see if enough oxygen is getting into your blood from the lungs
- CBC to check white blood cell count
- CT scan of the chest
- Gram’s stain and culture of your sputum to look for the bacteria or virus that is causing your symptoms
- Pleural fluid culture if there is fluid in the space around the lungs
Pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics. These are usually prescribed at a health centre or hospital, but the vast majority of cases of childhood Pneumonia can be administered effectively within the home. Hospitalization is usually recommended in infants aged two months and younger, and also in very severe cases.
Complications from Pneumonia
Possible complications include:-
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
- Fluid around the lung (pleural effusion)
- Lung abscesses
- Respiratory failure (which requires a breathing machine or ventilator)
- Sepsis, which may lead to organ failure
There are currently two types of pneumococcal vaccines: pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) and pneumococcal polysaccharide. The pneumococcal vaccine prevents serious blood, brain, and lung infections from the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. Such infections are called pneumococcal disease, they also include pneumonia,meningitis, and septicemia.
Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV13)
The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) protects against 13 of them. These bacteria types are responsible for most common severe pneumococcal infections among children. PCV13 is recommended as a series of four doses, one dose at each of these ages:
- 2 months
- 4 months
- 6 months and
- 12 through 15 months
One dose of PCV13 is recommended for adults 19 years and older with the following medical conditions that put them at high risk for pneumococcal disease:
- Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks
- Cochlear implant(s)
- Sickle cell disease and other hemaglobinopathies
- Functional or anatomic asplenia
- Congenital or acquired immunodeficiencies
- HIV infection
- Chronic renal failure
- Nephrotic syndrome
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Generalized malignancy
- Long-term immunosuppressive therapy
- Solid organ transplant
- Multiple myeloma
Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine (PPSV23)
Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine (PPSV23) protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria, including those most likely to cause serious disease. Most healthy adults who get the vaccine develop protection to most or all of these types within two to three weeks of getting the shot. One dose of PPSV23 is recommended for:
- All adults 65 years of age and older
- Anyone two through 64 years of age who has a long- term health problem such as: heart disease, lung disease, sickle cell disease diabetes alcoholism cirrhosis leaks of cerebrospinal fluid or cochlear implant
- Anyone two through 64 years of age who has a disease or condition that lowers the body’s resistance to infection, such as: Hodgkin’s disease, lymphoma or leukemia, kidney failure, multiple myeloma, nephrotic syndrome, HIV infection or AIDS, damaged spleen, or no spleen, organ transplant
- Anyone two through 64 years of age who is taking a drug or treatment that lowers the body’s resistance of infection, such as: long-term steroids, certain cancer drugs, radiation therapy
- Any adult 19 through 64 years of age who is a smoker or has asthma