Even a simple flu is hard to get by.
The constant watery eyes.
The blocked nose and the heavy headache signals towards major health problems.
Quite a nuisance right?
Now think of a state; a condition, which has these symptoms and even more complications.
Pneumonia is quite a common word.
It usually pops up in conversations.
It is an infection in the lungs because of a bacteria or a virus.
The infection causes inflammation in the air sacs of your lungs. This is alveoli. It fills with fluid or pus, in turn making it difficult for you to breathe.
This blog post will provide you all you should know about this highly serious health condition.
A Look into Pneumonia
The infection can either be mild or extreme.
To understand how it affects the breathing mechanism, we will firstly look into the proper functioning of the lungs.
How the Lungs Work:
Did you know that you take in at least 20 breaths in a minute?
That number shows how important it is that you have a good system of breathing in and out.
One of the most popular yoga regimes is deep breathing. It is the core health practice which keeps your systems progressing smoothly.
When you breathe in, the air enters in each lung through the trachea. A bacterial pneumonia or any kind can be confirmed with chest x-rays or blood tests.
Your lungs perform well when you don’t have any problems in breathing in and out.
However if you have inflammation in one or both the lungs, it becomes hard for air to move smoothly through the airways.
This leads to difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath, affecting your life tremendously.
Now let’s look into some common doubts :
Is Pneumonia a Virus?
In one word: yes.
Different kinds of infectious agents can cause it. And virus is one of the leading agents.
Underneath you will see a list of all the viral infections that can lead to pneumonia:
- RSV infection
- rhinoviruses(common cold)
- human parainfluenza virus (HPIV)
- human metapneumovirus (HMPV)
Symptoms of Pneumonia:
- Chest pain every time you breathe
- Phlegm in cough
- Feeling a constant fatigue
- Nausea and diarrhea are common
- Having shortness of breath
- Fever is constant
- You breakout in chills often
- Lower than normal body temperature (in adults older than age 65 and people with weak immune systems)
- Feeling tiredness
- Having a loss of appetite
- Getting nauseous
- Vomiting regularly
- Having regular headaches
*Babies and toddlers will:
- Cough often
- Fever that is consistent
- They have difficulty in breathing, making grunting sounds or being too noisy
- You face trouble when feeding them
- In certain occasions, they will stop breathing for short periods while sleeping
- Less urine
- Pale colour
- Crying often and being fussy
*Adolescents have the same symptoms as adults, including:
- Heavy cough
- Consistent fever
- Difficulty in breathing
- Shortness of breath.
- Frequent chest pain
*For older people (above the age of 65), they have confusion and change in mental awareness
Risk Factors of Pneumonia:
While this condition isn’t specific to a group or age, certain factors will increase your chances to have it. It’s good to know these:
- Having flu or being sick increases your chance
- Age matters- it is more common in children aged below 2 years and adults who are 65 years and older
- Having exposure to harmful materials like pollutants and toxins increases its chances
- If you smoke often or drink alcohol, you increase your chances of getting pneumonia
- Malnourishment is another reason
- If you are admitted in the hospital and using ventilators, it increases your risk even more
- Lung diseases is a reason
- Weakened immune system
- Having a chronic disease
- If the situation is not well-taken care of, it can lead to ventilator- associated pneumonia
Complications of Pneumonia:
While it can be treated, in some cases, you will still have some sort of complications. These include:
The bacteria enters the bloodstream- when it gets that access, it becomes easy for it to reach all the organs of the body, even leading to organ failure
Breathing difficulties- for a case that is triggered because of your underlying or chronic condition, you will have problems to breathe properly and take in enough oxygen.
In some cases you will also be put onto a ventilator.
Pleural effusion- this is when you are having fluid between the thin space between your tissue layers. If the fluid has infection, it will cause problems. A painful method in which this fluid is taken out using a chest tube is done then.
Lung abscess- a cavity formation is called abscess. This needs treatment. Either you will be administered strong medications or a drainage process is done where a long needle is used to remove the pus in the lungs.
It is a very harmful condition which can get worse in certain cases.
But it is something which can be prevented from happening too if you follow certain precautions.
Let’s look at the top preventive techniques:
Vaccination- getting vaccinated is a good solution. You can get a consultation session done with your doctor to determine the vaccines available for pneumonia.
Taking these shots will help. But it is important that you see your vaccination chart to see what shots you have taken and what illnesses and allergies you have, to avoid any further complications.
Children Vaccination- for children it is slightly different. For kids under 2 years of age, they will have to get a different kind of vaccination as compared to children who are above 2 years of age. They should get these shots for any pneumococcal disease. Even flu shots can be done so the matter is taken care before it sets in.
Good hygiene- it is pretty basic and anyone can do it. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to preventing such an illness. Wash your hands regularly, use sanitizers often as it will help the onset of respiratory complications.
Chain smoking-if you are in the habit of smoking heavily, it affects your lung’s function to breathe in and out properly. This leads to your body having a weak immune system which can’t defend itself in the onset of an illness.
Get your health in order- to keep your immune system working properly, adapt some life-altering habits which will bring your health to the optimal level. This includes sleeping enough, getting into regular exercise regime and adapting healthy eating habits. You should steer clear of fad diets like Keto Diet.
To treat this condition, two important factors to consider are your medical history and the type of pneumonia you have.
Let’s talk about the options at your disposal:
Sometimes your doctor will diagnose your condition and determine that your symptoms can be taken care of by prescribed medication.
The kind of medicines you will get prescription for can be:
Antibiotics- sometimes oral medication helps. If you have a mild case of bacterial infection, oral medication helps.
However doctors recommend that you complete your full course of treatment as failing to do so would mean the infection will not clear up properly and it becomes harder to cure it later.
Also it is important to mention that these kinds of medication are not effective on severe viruses.
You can also get antiviral prescription for certain complications.
Antifungal medications are good at fighting fungal pneumonia. Take the medicines for several weeks to make an impact.
But here’s the good news- you can treat many of the viral pneumonia cases with home remedies.
Homecare Remedies and Treatment
Sometimes you can adapt over-the-counter medication treatment to help in alleviating the pain and fever, two common symptoms with this condition. They are:
Cough medicine- it is important that your cough is in control. In addition, it helps to remove the fluid setting into the lungs.
You can also consume hot soups or take hot water for the chills.
Doctors also recommend that you take a lot of rest and drink enough water for hydration
Need for hospitalization
In some cases the symptoms will become severe.
The complications affect your health drastically and this will need immediate medical attention.
It will help because the doctors to keep a good track on your heart rate. Similarly they will monitor the temperature and breathing levels.
The treatment will consist of:
Antibiotics administered into the vein
Respiratory therapy- the medication is put directly into the veins.
Doctors also administer breathing exercises so as to keep your oxygen levels at optimal level.
Oxygen therapy aims to maintain oxygen in the bloodstream. Doctors will make use of devices like nasal tube, face masks or in extreme conditions, ventilators will be used.
So To Conclude:
The word pneumonia can be scary and overwhelming. Pneumonia is an infection and sometimes you have a case of hospital acquired pneumonia.
However the good news is you can have a good treatment.
Either you will just need antibiotics, or home-care, or in severe cases, you will need to go to a hospital.
Your medical advisor will tell you what works best.
But whatever kind of pneumonia you have, you will need to take a lot of rest and drink water often.
If you still have concerns and want to take advice from a team of capable medical professionals, feel free to get in touch with our team at Dr.Amal Al-Qedrah who will share details on ways you can combat your illness effectively.