Pneumonia is a lung infection in which the air sacs (alveoli) of one or both lungs is filled with a fluid or pus. This causes a cough with mucus or pus, fever, chills, and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is mainly caused by infection with viruses or bacteria. It can also be caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. Apart from this, pneumonia is also caused by infection with micro-organisms, certain drugs, and other diseases. Pneumonia is a serious disease that may take a serious form if the symptoms are not recognized and treated at the right time. It is more harmful to infants, young people, people over the age of 65, people with health problems or those with weakened immune systems. Most types of pneumonia are contagious. Both viral and bacterial pneumonia can be spread to other people by sneezing or coughing but fungal pneumonia does not spread like this.
World Pneumonia Day is celebrated all over the world on 12 November. The purpose of celebrating this day is to make people aware of the disease of pneumonia. According to a report in 2016 ahead of World Pneumonia Day (November 12), India has the highest number of infant and child deaths due to pneumonia in the world. Every year in India, about 1 lakh 90 thousand children under 5 years of age die due to pneumonia. Under the Universal Immunization Program, a new vaccine has been introduced in India this year to protect children from pneumonia which is called the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV: PCV).
Types of Pneumonia
There are five types of pneumonia-
This type of pneumonia is caused by different bacteria. The most common of these is Streptococcus pneumoniae. This usually happens When the body becomes weak in some way like a minor illness, nutritional deficiency, old age or body immunity problems etc. In this, the bacteria go into the lungs. Bacterial pneumonia can affect people of all ages.
This type of pneumonia is caused by a variety of viruses, including influenza (flu). If a person has viral pneumonia, they are more likely to get bacterial pneumonia.
This type of pneumonia has slightly different symptoms and is called atypical pneumonia. It is caused by a bacterium called Mycoplasma pneumoniae. It usually causes mild but widespread pneumonia which affects all age groups.
This type of pneumonia is caused by food, liquid, gas or dust. It is also known as Necrotizing Pneumonia, Anaerobic Pneumonia, Aspiration Pneumonitis and Aspiration of Vomitus. This type of pneumonia can sometimes be difficult to cure because people who get aspiration pneumonia are already sick.
This type of pneumonia is caused by various endemic or opportunistic fungi. This leads to fungal infections, such as histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, and blastomycosis. Cases of fungal pneumonia are difficult to diagnose.
Symptoms of Pneumonia
Flu-like symptoms are felt in pneumonia. These symptoms can develop slowly or rapidly. The main symptom of pneumonia is cough. Along with coughing, there are several other symptoms which are listed below-
- The patient feels weak and tired.
- Suffering from cough with mucus.
- Fever with sweating and shivering.
- The patient has difficulty breathing or starts breathing rapidly.
- Chest pain.
- Feeling restless.
- Loss of appetite etc.
Symptoms of Pneumonia in young children
- Small children start sweating and body chills along with fever.
- Heavy coughing among children.
- Loss of appetite.
Causes of Pneumonia
- Viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasitic organisms or other organisms can cause pneumonia.
- Pneumonia can be caused by a variety of bacteria. In most cases, the organism that causes pneumonia (such as bacteria or viruses) is not detected by the test, but it is usually caused by Streptococcus Pneumoniae.
- Mycoplasma pneumoniae, caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae, is sometimes mild and is also called "walking pneumonia".
- Viruses such as influenza A (flu virus) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can also cause pneumonia.
- People with a weak immune system can also get pneumonia caused by other organisms such as Pneumocystis jirovecii. This fungus often causes pneumonia in people who have AIDS, that's why some doctors may recommend an HIV test. If they think that the cause of pneumonia is Pneumocystis jirovecii.
Prevention of Pneumonia
Vaccines are available to prevent some types of pneumonia and the flu. Vaccinations change over time, that is why consult a doctor even if you are vaccinated against pneumonia.
Vaccination of children-
Doctors recommend different pneumonia vaccines for children under the age of 2 and children between the ages of 2 and 5. Doctors also recommend flu shots for babies older than 6 months.
Take care of cleanliness-
Wash your hands regularly to protect yourself from respiratory infections (which sometimes lead to pneumonia).
Smoking causes a lot of damage to a person's lungs. Therefore, smoking also increases the risk of pneumonia.
Some other defences-
- Keep your immune system healthy.
- Get enough sleep.
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat a healthy diet.
Treatment of Pneumonia
Treatment of pneumonia depends on the type, severity, age and health of the person. Following are the treatment options for it-
These medicines are used to treat pneumonia caused by bacteria.
Medicines for cough-
This medicine can be used to reduce cough so that people can rest. Coughing helps loosen the fluid in the lungs.
Home remedies for Pneumonia
Inhalation of steam reduces infection. This also improves the breathing capacity of the patient. Steam reduces cough and also relieves chest tightness.
Turmeric is also helpful in relieving shortness of breath. It reduces phlegm. Therefore, consuming hot milk adding turmeric powder twice a day is considered beneficial in pneumonia.
Mix turmeric powder in lukewarm mustard oil. Massage your chest with this. This prevents pneumonia.
Peppermint reduces irritation and mucus. Therefore, make tea using fresh mint leaves and drink it. This mint tea acts as a medicine for pneumonia.
Some other home remedies-
- During pneumonia, drinking vegetable juices such as carrot juice, spinach juice, beet juice, cucumber juice and other vegetable juices is beneficial for health.
- To cure cough, gargle with half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of water. With its help, the mucus and irritation present in the throat are reduced.
- Try to maintain a normal diet because it is necessary to eat a balanced diet in order to recover.
- Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily.
- Eat green leafy vegetables and fruits daily.
- Eat meat, fish, eggs and light food.
- Eat well-cooked vegetables.
When to go to the doctor?
- If the patient is more than 60 years of age.
- When the patient's Systolic BP is more than 140 and Diastolic is less than 90 mmHg.
- When the patient's breathing is fast or needs assistance in breathing.
- See a doctor if the patient's temperature is below normal.
- If the heart rate is below 50 or above 100.
When to take children to the doctor if they have Pneumonia?
Pneumonia turns serious for children in some children. In such cases, children need treatment in the hospital. Therefore, in the following circumstances, take the children to the hospital immediately-
- When the child is taking a fast or deep breath.
- When the child has consumed less than the normal amount of fluids in the last 24 hours.
- Children on breathlessness (a thick, whistling sound when breathing).
- When the baby's lips and fingernails start turning blue.