Pneumonia is the inflammation of the air spaces most commonly caused by infections. Viruses, bacteria or fungi can cause the infection. They are also few types of pneumonia that are caused by aspirating or inhaling foreign matter or toxic substances in the lungs. Some pneumonia cases are life threatening with more than 50,000 people dying every year of pneumonia in USA only.
Pneumonia is more common in elderly adults although anyone of any age can be affected. Pneumonia is more serious when it affects infants, elderly adults and young children with weak immune system.
Causes of pneumonia
Pneumonia is mostly caused by a type of bacteria called streptococcus pneumoniae. The following type of bacteria also causes pneumonia:
- Legionella Pneumonia
- Chlamydophilla pneumonia
The influenza virus is the most common cause of viral pneumonia in adults while a number of different respiratory viruses cause pneumonia in children. Fungi that cause pneumonia include:
These organisms don’t cause illness in most individuals but they may cause pneumonia in some people. Fungal infections are more common to those who take various medications that suppress immune functions. Fungal infections are frequent to patients with HIV/AIDS.
The following leads to high risk of developing pneumonia:
- Age 65 and older
- Smoking cigarettes
- Being an ICU patient with ventilation support
- Infants and children of 2 years and below
- HIV/AIDS or cancer patients due to weakened immune system
Pneumonia symptoms depends on someone’s overall state of health and the type of infection causing the pneumonia. Symptoms include:
- Chest pain when coughing and breathing
- Fatigue and chills
- Shortness of breath
Diarrhea, vomiting and nausea are other possible symptoms.
Antibiotics medications are the first choice treatment for pneumonia caused by bacterial and fungal infections .Choice medication depends on the patient’s health condition, organisms responsible for the infection and the likelihood resistance of the organism to antibiotics.
It is impossible to prevent all types of pneumonia, although you can take steps to reduce the risk by practicing good hand washing, quitting smoking and avoiding contact with people having the flu, colds, or other infections. A vaccine is also available for the most common bacterial cause of Pneumonia. They are two types of vaccines: Pneumovax (PPSV23) and Prevnar13 (PCV13). Pneumovax is a pneumococcal polysacchoride vaccine against 23 types of the bacteria while Prevnar 13 is a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine against 13 types of the bacteria.