What Are The Causes Of Pneumonia
Pneumonia is commonly caused by an infection with a germ. The germ is usually a bacterium or a virus. There are three or four different bacteria that are the most common causes of pneumonia. There is also a well-known group of bacteria that causes pneumonia in about 3 out of 10 cases. They are called atypicals. Other germs such as fungi, yeasts, or protozoa can sometimes also cause pneumonia.
Rarely, non-infective pneumonia is caused by inhaling poisons or chemicals. Many different substances can cause this. They can be in the form of liquids, gases, small particles, dust or fumes.
You may breathe in some bacteria, viruses, or other germs. If you are normally healthy, a small number of germs usually doesn’t matter. They will be trapped in your phlegm and killed by your immune system. Sometimes the germs multiply and cause lung infections. This is more likely to happen if you are already in poor health – for example:
- If you are frail or elderly.
- If you have a chest disease.
- If you have a low immunity to infection. Low immunity can be caused by such things as alcohol dependence, AIDS, or another serious illness.
However, even healthy people sometimes develop pneumonia.
Pneumonia can sometimes develop after an operation, particularly in the region of your head or neck. Having an anaesthetic can increase the risk.
Have You Got A Cold Or Covid Heres How To Tell The Difference
In pre-pandemic days, if you got a sniffle and a headache, you might dismiss it as an ordinary cold and carry on as normal, even if you felt a little rough around the edges. But during cold and flu season, how can you be sure its a cold and not Covid-19?
The bottom line is without a test, you cant. Because while the typical symptoms of a cold are a headache, sore throat and runny nose, those are now some of the primary indicators of Covid too.
On Thursday, 23 December, researchers behind the ZOE Covid study warned that those with a sore throat, runny nose and a headache all symptoms of a common cold likely have the Omicron variant.
With Omicron cases spreading rapidly, Professor Tim Spector, who helped found the Covid ZOE app, told the BBC that anyone with these symptoms should take a Covid test. More than 106,000 people tested positive for the virus in the 24 hours to 22 December, while the weekly average has increased by 58.9 per cent.
The number of new symptomatic cases has exploded over the last week, Professor Tim Spector, who helped found the Covid ZOE app said.
For most people, an Omicron positive case will feel much more like the common cold, starting with a sore throat, runny nose and a headache.
He added: You only need to ask a friend who has recently tested positive to find this out. We need to change public messaging urgently to save lives.
The common cold is caused by a different strain of virus to Covid, however.
Articles On Pneumonia Types
âWalking pneumonia” sounds like it could be the name of a sci-fi horror flick. But it’s actually the least scary kind of pneumonia. It can be milder than the other types, and you usually donât have to stay in the hospital. You could have walking pneumonia and not even know it.
Read Also: Signs And Symptoms Of Pneumonia
Pneumonia Vs Cold And Flu Symptoms
Itâs tricky, because pneumonia can be a complication of colds and flu. This happens when the germs that cause those common illnesses get into your lungs. You might be feeling better, but then you start getting symptoms again — and this time, they can be a lot worse.
The top clue that you have the flu is that the symptoms come on strong, seemingly out of nowhere. You may have:
- Fever above 100.4 F
What Is Walking Pneumonia
Walking pneumonia is a mild case of pneumonia. It is often caused by a virus or the mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria. When you have walking pneumonia, your symptoms may not be as severe or last as long as someone who has a more serious case of pneumonia. You probably wont need bed rest or to stay in the hospital when you have walking pneumonia.
How Do You Get Pneumonia
Pneumonia can be contracted tons of different ways, from inhalation of fumes to living in a moldy building. Overall, its divided into two different categories: community-acquired pneumonia and hospital acquired pneumonia, says Norman Edelman, M.D., senior scientific advisor to the American Lung Association.
Community-acquired pneumonia can be acquired anywhere, anytime. Bacterial and viral pneumonia are contagious, so you can pick it up from someones stray cough or sneeze, by sharing cups, or not washing your hands as often as you should.
Then there is hospital-acquired pneumonia, which is the kind you pick up while staying in the hospital or at a chronic care facility, like a nursing home or rehab center. We make that distinction because the bugs that cause these two types of pneumonia tend to be different and treated differently, says Dr. Edelman.
When Can I Return To Work School And Regular Activities If I Have Pneumonia
You typically can resume your normal activities if your symptoms are gone, mild or improving and you do not have new or worsening:
- Shortness of breath or tiredness
- Chest pain
- Mucus, fever or cough
If you are generally healthy, most people feel well enough to return to previous activities in about a week. However, it may take about a month to feel totally back to normal.
Read Also: Does Medicare Cover The Pneumonia Shot
How To Stay Safe
Given that COVID-19 is a respiratory illness just as pneumonia is, it is important to do your best to minimize your risk of contracting COVID-19, which could potentially cause severe respiratory complications.
The same precautions you’ve been taking to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic will, of course, keep you safe from developing pneumonia secondary to COVID-19, too. Be diligent about wearing a well-fitting mask, social distancing, and washing your hands.
A few other tips to keep in mind for recovery from pneumonia are to:
- Control your fever with NSAIDs or acetaminophen .
- Drink plenty of fluids to help loosen secretions and to cough up phlegm.
- Avoid taking cough medicines before talking to your healthcare provider first because coughing is one of the ways your body is working to get rid of the pneumonia infection.
- Drink warm beverages like tea or hot water.
- Use a humidifier, and take steamy baths or showers to help open your airway and ease your breathing.
- Stay away from smoke to allow your lungs to heal themselves. If you are a smoker, this would be a good time to think about quitting.
- Get rest. Stay home and take it easy for a while until you feel better and stronger.
These are all things you can do from the safety and comfort of your own home. Taking care of yourself and seeking medical care as needed can help keep you safe from COVID-19.
When Would I Need To Be Hospitalized For Pneumonia
If your case of pneumonia is more severe, you may need tostay in the hospital for treatment. Hospital treatments may include:
- Fluids, antibiotics and other medicines given through an IV
- Breathing treatments and exercises to help loosen mucus
People most likely to be hospitalized are those who are most frail and/or at increased risk, including:
- Babies and young children
- People with weakened immune systems
- People with health conditions that affect the heart and lungs
It may take six to eight weeks to return to a normal level of functioning and well-being if youve been hospitalized with pneumonia.
Read Also: How Does Pneumonia Start Out
Questions About Your Symptoms
Bacterial pneumonia, which is the most common form, tends to be more serious than other types of pneumonia, with symptoms that require medical care. The symptoms of bacterial pneumonia can develop gradually or suddenly. Fever may rise as high as a dangerous 105 degrees F, with profuse sweating and rapidly increased breathing and pulse rate. Lips and nailbeds may have a bluish color due to lack of oxygen in the blood. A patient’s mental state may be confused or delirious.
The symptoms of viral pneumonia usually develop over a period of several days. Early symptoms are similar to influenza symptoms: fever, a dry cough, headache, muscle pain, and weakness. Within a day or two, the symptoms typically get worse, with increasing cough, shortness of breath and muscle pain. There may be a high fever and there may be blueness of the lips.
Symptoms may vary in certain populations. Newborns and infants may not show any signs of the infection. Or, they may vomit, have a fever and cough, or appear restless, sick, or tired and without energy. Older adults and people who have serious illnesses or weak immune systems may have fewer and milder symptoms. They may even have a lower than normal temperature. Older adults who have pneumonia sometimes have sudden changes in mental awareness. For individuals that already have a chronic lung disease, those symptoms may worsen.
When to call a doctor
Other Ways To Prevent Pneumonia
You can take the following steps to help prevent pneumonia:
- Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers to kill germs.
- Dont smoke. Smoking prevents your lungs from properly filtering out and defending your body against germs. For information about how to quit smoking, visit Smoking and Your Heart and Your Guide to a Healthy Heart. These resources include basic information about how to quit smoking. For free help and support, you may call the National Cancer Institutes Smoking Quitline at 1-877-44U-QUIT .
- Keep your immune system strong. Get plenty of physical activity and follow a healthy eating plan. Read more about heart-healthy living.
- If you have problems swallowing, eat smaller meals of thickened foodand sleep with the head of your bed raised up. These steps can help you avoid getting food, drink, or saliva into your lungs.
- If you have a planned surgery, your doctor may recommend that you dont eat for 8 hours or drink liquids for 2 hours before your surgery. This can help prevent food or drink from getting into your airway while you are sedated.
- If your immune system is impaired or weakened, your doctor may recommend you take antibiotics to prevent bacteria from growing in your lungs.
Don’t Miss: Does Pneumonia Vaccine Make You Sick
What Is Pneumonia Exactly
Pneumonia is an infection in the gas-exchanging units of the lung , says Michael Niederman, M.D., clinical director of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. Translation: the air sacs in your lungs become inflamed or even fill with fluid or pus, which interferes with your bodys ability to deliver oxygen to your blood.
About half the time, its due to bacteria, says Dr. Edelman. The other half the time, its due to viruses. The most common type of pneumonia is caused by the bacteria streptococcus pneumoniae, in the same family of bacteria that causes strep throat. Influenza is also a key virus that can spur pneumonia, and fungi can be a culprit, too. The novel coronavirus, of course, can also cause pneumonia, albeit one with a longer incubation period than, say, the flu, says Dr. Dasgupta.
Pneumonia develops if the organism overwhelms the patients host defenses, says Dr. Niederman. This basically means that a foreign bug takes over your immune system, even if youre generally healthy. Thats because certain organisms, like those associated with the flu, can be particularly hostile or invade your body in large numbers.
Is Pneumonia Treated Any Differently In Children
Essentially no. Just like adults, bacterial causes of pneumonia in children may be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics are not used to treat pneumonia caused by viruses. Flu-related pneumonia may be treated with antiviral medicine if caught early in the course of illness. Most cases of pneumonia are treated with comfort care measures that ease symptoms. These may include:
- Drinking more fluids.
- Getting more rest.
- Taking over-the-counter medicines for cough and acetaminophen for fever. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about giving medicines to your child.
- Using a cool mist humidifier in your childs room.
Don’t Miss: Is The Pneumonia Vaccine A One Time Shot
Viral And Host Factors
Multiple viral and host factors affect the pathogenesis of the virus. The S-protein, otherwise known as the spike protein, is the viral component that attaches to the host receptor via the ACE2 receptors. It includes two subunits: S1 and S2. S1 determines the virus-host range and cellular tropism via the receptor-binding domain. S2 mediates the membrane fusion of the virus to its potential cell host via the H1 and HR2, which are heptad repeat regions. Studies have shown that S1 domain induced IgG and IgA antibody levels at a much higher capacity. It is the focus spike proteins expression that are involved in many effective COVID-19 vaccines.
The M protein is the viral protein responsible for the transmembrane transport of nutrients. It is the cause of the bud release and the formation of the viral envelope. The N and E protein are accessory proteins that interfere with the host’s immune response.
Human angiotensin converting enzyme 2 is the host factor that SARS-COV2 virus targets causing COVID-19. Theoretically, the usage of angiotensin receptor blockers and ACE inhibitors upregulating ACE2 expression might increase morbidity with COVID-19, though animal data suggest some potential protective effect of ARB however no clinical studies have proven susceptibility or outcomes. Until further data is available, guidelines and recommendations for hypertensive patients remain.
Take Steps To Protect Yourself And Others
The following steps can help you prevent spreading the infection to others around you.
- Cover your nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing.
- Get rid of used tissues right away.
- Limit contact with family and friends.
- Wash your hands often, especially after coughing and sneezing.
Some people get pneumonia again and again. Tell your doctor if this happens. Return to Prevention to find more strategies to help prevent pneumonia.
Also Check: Is There A Reaction To The Pneumonia Shot
Key Points About Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an infection of one or both of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
There are more than 30 different causes of pneumonia, and theyre grouped by the cause. The main types of pneumonia are bacterial, viral, and mycoplasma pneumonia.
A cough that produces green, yellow, or bloody mucus is the most common symptom of pneumonia. Other symptoms include fever, shaking chills, shortness of breath, low energy, and extreme tiredness.
Pneumonia can often be diagnosed with a thorough history and physical exam. Tests used to look at the lungs, blood tests, and tests done on the sputum you cough up may also be used.
Treatment depends on the type of pneumonia you have. Antibiotics are used for bacterial pneumonia. It may also speed recovery from mycoplasma pneumonia and some special cases. Most viral pneumonias dont have a specific treatment and just get better on their own. Other treatment may include a healthy diet, more fluids, rest, oxygen therapy, and medicine for pain, cough, and fever control.
Most people with pneumonia respond well to treatment, but pneumonia can cause serious lung and infection problems. It can even be deadly.
Besides Vaccination What Else Can I Do To Prevent Bacterial And Viral Pneumonia
Receiving all recommended vaccinations is one of the best ways to prevent pneumonia. Additionally, there are several other ways to prevent pneumonia, including:
- Quitting smoking, and avoiding secondhand smoke. Smoking damages your lungs.
- Washing your hands before eating, before handling food, after using the restroom, and after being outside. If soap is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoiding being around people who are sick. Ask them to visit when they are feeling better.
- Not touching or sharing objects that are shared with others. Germs can be transferred from object to you if you touch your nose or mouth without washing or sanitizing your hands first.
- Eating a healthy diet, exercise, and get enough rest. Healthy habits keep your immune system strong.
- Getting treated for any other infections or health conditions you may have. These conditions could weaken your immune system, which could increase your chance of infections.
- Avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol.
Don’t Miss: If You Have Pneumonia Will You Have A Fever
Healthy Diet And Lifestyle
The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recommends a healthy diet, being physically active, managing psychological stress, and getting enough sleep.
Consistently meeting scientific guidelines of 150+ minutes per week of exercise or similar physical activity was shown to be associated with a smaller risk of hospitalisation and death due to COVID-19, even when considering likely risk factors such as elevated BMI.
A meta-analysis, published online in October 2021, concluded that Vitamin D supplementation in SARS-CoV-2 positive patients has the potential to positively impact patients with both mild and severe symptoms. The largest observational study on the subject using online questionnaires, with over 6 000 participants and a dosage regime near the RDI, is set to conclude in July 2021.One of the collaborators in the study is Synergy Biologics Ltd, a manufacturer of vitamin D3 supplements.