Pneumonia is a lung infection that can range from mild to severe enough to require hospitalization. It happens when an infection causes the air sacs in your lungs (your doctor calls them alveoli) to fill with fluid or pus. It can make it harder for you to breathe enough oxygen to reach your blood stream. Anyone can get this lung infection, but babies younger than 2 and people over 65 are at higher risk. Because their immune systems may not be strong enough to fight it off. You may develop pneumonia in one or both lungs. You can also have this disorder and not know it. The causes of this disease are often bacteria, viruses, and fungi. If a virus or bacteria is the cause of your problem, you can pass it on to another person.
It is an infection that inflames the air sacs of one or both lungs. The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus and cause cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing. Various organisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, can cause pneumonia. It can also be caused by a virus such as corona virus (COVID-19). Symptoms can develop suddenly within 24 to 48 hours, or they may appear more slowly over several days.
Symptoms of pneumonia
The signs and symptoms of pneumonia vary from mild to severe depending on factors such as the type of germ, the infecting agent, and your age and overall health. Mild signs and symptoms often resemble those of a cold or flu, but last longer.
Signs and symptoms may include:
Chest pain when breathing or coughing
Confusion or changes in mental awareness (in adults 65 years and older)
Cough that may produce phlegm
Fever, sweating, and chills
Body temperature lower than normal (in adults over 65 years old and people with a weak immune system)
Nausea, vomiting, and sometimes diarrhea
See your doctor if you have trouble breathing, chest pain, a persistent fever of 39°C or higher, or a persistent cough, especially if you cough with sputum. It is especially important that people in these high-risk groups see a doctor: Adults over 65 years old
Children under 2 years old
People who have an underlying disease or a weak immune system
People undergoing chemo – therapy or taking drugs that suppress the immune system
For some older people and people with heart failure or chronic lung problems, pneumonia can quickly become a life – threatening condition.
Special groups at risk
The groups are: Babies from birth to two years old
People 65 years old and older
People with the weak immune system due to:
Use of certain medications, such as steroids or certain cancer medications
People with certain chronic diseases such as:
Sickle cell disease
People who have recently been hospitalized, especially if they are on a ventilator.
People whose brain disorder affects the ability to swallow or cough, such as:
People are regularly exposed to lung irritants, such as air pollution and toxic fumes, especially at work.
Also, people who take drugs or drink large amounts of alcohol weakens their immune system.
Note: See a doctor for treatment. But remember that using a hot water bag behind the chest can speed up the healing process.
What are the complications of pneumonia?
Even with treatment, some people with pneumonia, especially those in high-risk groups, may experience complications, including:
presence of bacteria in the blood stream ; Bacteria that enter the blood stream from your lungs can spread the infection to other organs, potentially causing organ failure.
Difficulty breathing: If your problem is severe or you have underlying chronic lung diseases, you may have trouble breathing enough oxygen. You may need to be hospitalized and use a breathing machine while your lung recovers.
Fluid build up around the lungs (pleural effusion): Pneumonia may cause fluid to build up in the thin space between the layers of tissue that line the lungs and chest cavity (pleura). Of course if the fluid becomes infected, it may need to be drained through a chest tube or removed surgically.
Lung Abscess: An abscess forms if pus forms in a cavity in the lung. They are usually treated with antibiotics. Sometimes surgery is needed to remove the pus or to drain the abscess with a needle or long tube.
To help prevent pneumonia:
Vaccinate; Vaccines are available to prevent some types of pneumonia and influenza. Talk to your doctor about getting these vaccines. Vaccination guidelines have changed over time, so be sure to check your vaccination status with your doctor, even if you remember getting a pneumonia vaccine before. Make sure children are vaccinated. Doctors recommend different vaccines for children younger than 2 years of age and for children 2 to 5 years of age who are at risk for pneumococcal disease. Children in a group child care facility must also receive the vaccine. Doctors also recommend the flu vaccine for children older than 6 months.
Maintain good hygiene; To protect yourself from respiratory infections that sometimes lead to pneumonia, wash your hands regularly or use alcohol – based hand sanitizers.
Do not smoke; Smoking damages your lungs’ natural defenses against respiratory infections. Keep your immune system strong.
Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and eat a healthy diet.