The Dangers of Pneumonia

If you are showing the following symptoms: a cough, green colored phlegm, fever, shortness of breath with rapid breathing or just general difficulty breathing, wheezing, a shaking chest with chest pains, fast heartbeat, fatigue and weakness, sweating, muscle pain, diarrhea and occasionally delirium; there is a very likely chance that you may have an infection called Pneumonia. You have probably heard of the condition before, but do you know what it is exactly? Pneumonia is one of the most common infections that is caused in the lungs. 

Pneumonia can be obtained from various origins such as viral, bacterial or fungal infections. Viral pneumonia can commonly be obtained from the influenza A and B virus in adults, or a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), mostly found in children. Viral influenza based pneumonia tends to be severe and sometimes fatal. Bacterial Pneumonia is called Pneumococcal. Fungal pneumonia is common within those with chronic health problems or those exposed to large amounts of fungi. The three main fungi that causes Pneumonia are Coccidioidomycosis, found generally in southern desert areas, Histoplasmosis, and Cryptococcus, commonly found in bird feces. Most common is bacterial infection; infecting over 900,000 Americans every year. Pneumonia caused by bacteria comes from a bacteria family called streptococcus that lives in the upper respiratory tract. When the bacteria affects one part, lobe or lung, it is known as lobar pneumonia  and it tends to be a common risk to those recovering from surgery or have a weak immune system. 

In regards to the chance of obtaining pneumonia, there are a few common environments with increased susceptibility: at the hospital, during the winter, and at the time of old age. Infection in a hospital setting is called Hospital- acquired Pneumonia, or HAP. HAP is classified as a respiratory tract infection which develops 48 hours after hospital admission where the patients host defense is affected by disease. Elderly people also obtain pneumonia frequently due to frailty and senior health conditions. Elderly can’t secrete mucus out of the lungs as effectively as younger people. In addition to their weakened immune system, there are other various deteriorating health conditions that they may have. Lastly, the winter is a common source not because its cold, but because people tend to be indoors more and in closer contact with increasing chances of contracting the infection from a contagious fellow. 

People are more likely to obtain the infection in the hospital if they abuse alcohol, have a weak immune system, are being placed on a breathing machine, or if they are having a chest surgery and other major surgeries. Research shows that about 2% of patients obtain pneumonia after surgery. And of that 2%, only 21% actually die 30 days of infection. 

Luckily, there are several steps you can take to avoid contracting pneumonia. You can also practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of the infectious agent and getting vaccinated while maintaining good health to strengthen your immune system. Vaccines and booster are recommended as well as staying up to date with antibodies, which are the key to killing new strains of foreign bacteria and viruses that continue to evolve.  


Walida Ali