World Pneumonia Day 2021: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Vaccine & Lesser Known Facts About Pneumonia
World Pneumonia Day 2021: Pneumonia is the single biggest infectious killer of adults and children. In 2019, it claimed the lives of 2.5 million including 672,000 children. Most of the deaths occur due to pneumonia in low-and-middle-income countries.
What is Pneumonia?
It is an infection that occurs in one or both lungs which are caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. The infection further leads to inflammation in the air sacs of the lungs, known as alveoli.
When air sacs filled with fluid or pus may cause cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty in breathing. Pneumonia can range in seriousness from mild to life-threatening. The disease is most serious for infants and young children, also for people older than age 65, and for people with health problems or weakened immune systems.
Depending on various factors like the type of germ causing infection, overall health, etc. symptoms may vary from mild to severe. Mild symptoms are similar to those of cold or flu, but they last longer.
- Cough (Phlegm may produce)
- Chest pain while breathing or coughing
- Fever, sweating, and shaking chills
- Reduced appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
Some symptoms may vary according to age and general health.
- In infants sometimes symptoms don't appear but may vomit, lack energy, or have trouble drinking or eating.
- Children under 5 years old may have fast breathing or wheezing.
- Milder symptoms may occur in older adults. A sort of confusion can also be experienced by them or a lower-than-normal body temperature.
How does it spread from person to person?
When droplets of fluid containing bacteria and virus of pneumonia, while coughing and sneezing launch in the air and then inhaled by others. Pneumonia can also be caused by touching an object which is previously touched by pneumonia infected person or by touching a tissue used by the infected person and after it touching the mouth or nose.
Pneumonia can be caused by various germs. When germs get into the lungs and cause an infection. Various types of infectious agents can cause pneumonia, like bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
The most common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae. Other causes are:
- Mycoplasma pneumoniae
- Haemophilus influenzae
- Legionella pneumophila
Pneumonia is also caused due to respiratory viruses. Examples are:
- Influenza (flu)
- Rhinoviruses (Common cold)
- Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
- Adenovirus infection
- Coronavirus infection
- SARS-CoV-2 infection (the virus that causes COVID-19)
It is here to note is that the symptoms of viral and bacterial pneumonia are very similar. Usually, viral pneumonia is milder. It can improve in 1 to 3 weeks without treatment.
Pneumonia can also be caused due to fungi from soil or bird droppings. Often, pneumonia occurs in people with weakened immune systems. Some examples are:
- Pneumocystis jirovecii
- Cryptococcus species
- Histoplasmosis species
People with a high risk of pneumonia are:
- Infants from birth to 2 years old
- People ages 65 or older
- People with weakened immune systems because of pregnancy, HIV, or due to certain medications like steroids, etc.
- People suffering from certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart failure, COPD, Sickle cell disease, Liver disease, kidney disease, etc.
To prevent pneumonia;
- Get vaccinated. Also, make sure that children get vaccinated.
- Practice good hygiene
- Smoking is injurious to health. So, do not smoke.
- Keep the immune system strong.
Treatment for pneumonia will depend on the type of pneumonia that a person is suffering from, how severe it is, etc.
The doctor may prescribe a medication to help treat pneumonia and the prescription will depend on the specific cause of pneumonia. He or she may prescribe oral antibiotics for bacterial pneumonia, antiviral for viral pneumona, and antifungal medications to treat fungal pneumonia.
A Doctor may also recommend OTC (Over-the-counter) medications to relieve pain and fever, as required. Like, aspirin, Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, etc.
Some home remedies can also help in curing pneumonia-like gargling with salt water, drinking peppermint tea can help in coughing, drinking warm water, drinking plenty of fluids, etc.