Common Causes, Signs, And Symptoms Of Pneumonia

Common causes, signs, and symptoms of pneumonia

With the onset of winters, people start worrying about catching a common cold, cough, flu, and pneumonia. Though these illnesses are not bound to any particular season, their risk certainly increases in winters. The best precaution is knowledge and all the pneumonia information is given below, right from its types to causes to symptoms and prevention.

What is pneumonia?
To deal with it, you first need to know what is pneumonia. Well, it is an infection that inflames the air sacs of either or both the lungs. Ranging in seriousness from mild to life-threatening, it is dangerous for infants and young children. Additionally, people with a weak immune system and health problems and those older than 65 years of age are more susceptible to pneumonia. Depending on the type and level, pneumonia can make you sick, as the air sacs fill up with pus or fluid causing pain and severe difficulty in breathing.

What causes pneumonia?
While searching an answer to what causes pneumonia, you will find that a number of germs are responsible. The most common are the viruses and bacteria present in the air that we breathe. Our strong immune system generally prevents these germs from harming our respiratory system. However, sometimes these germs tend to overpower the strong immune system making the individual develop pneumonia. On the other hand, long-term or chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, asthma, or diabetes, also make people vulnerable to pneumonia. This respiratory condition is further classified into different types according to the types of germs and from where a person got the infection.

One of the types of pneumonia is Bacterial pneumonia, which is commonly caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae. It can also be caused by Chlamydophila pneumonia and Legionella pneumophila. Next is viral pneumonia, which is caused by respiratory viruses, especially in young children and older people. This form of pneumonia is not that serious and lasts for a shorter time.

Mycoplasma pneumonia is caused by mycoplasmas that have traits of both viruses and bacteria. They are responsible for mild cases of pneumonia in older children and young adults. Then there is fungal pneumonia that is caused due to the fungi from soil or bird droppings. Those who happen to inhale these organisms in large amounts fall sick which could result in fungal pneumonia. Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PCP) is one kind of fungal pneumonia that generally affects those who have an extremely weak immune system.

Another way used for classifying pneumonia is to consider the place where a person acquired pneumonia. Based on this assumption, there are three types of pneumonia:

  • Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP): This is a type of pneumonia that an individual develops after acquiring a common viral infection such as flu. Such people get this disease outside of hospitals and other healthcare settings. This is the most common type of pneumonia and majority of its cases occur during winter and require hospitalization.
  • Hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP): HAP affects people who are already infected with some other condition. Therefore, it is much more dangerous than CAP.
  • Healthcare-associated pneumonia: This is a type of pneumonia that an individual contracts in other healthcare settings, such as dialysis centers, outpatient clinics, and nursing homes.

Signs and symptoms of pneumonia
Depending on the level, varying from mild to severe, and factors, including age, overall health, and type of germ that caused the disease, signs, and symptoms of pneumonia vary. However, the following are the common symptoms.

  • Chest pain while breathing or coughing
  • Confusion or affected mental awareness in those above 65 years of age
  • Cough that may produce phlegm
  • Fatigue
  • Fever, sweating and shaking chills
  • Body temperature lower than normal
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath

Symptoms of a mild case of pneumonia are similar to that of cold or flu but they can last longer. Newborns and infants show signs of the infection differently, as they may vomit, have fever and cough, appear restless or tired, and have difficulty in breathing and eating.

Is pneumonia contagious?
No, pneumonia is not contagious. However, remember that the infection-causing bacteria and viruses are contagious. These germs are breathed in causing illness. On the other hand, people have small amounts of these germs in their nose and throat. When they cough or sneeze, the germs are passed in to the air and things surrounding them.

Prevention is better than cure, and it holds true in the case of pneumonia as well. You can get vaccinated as per the latest vaccination guidelines for the pneumonia vaccine. You should maintain hygiene, as this infection is also somewhat related to a poor hygiene status. Smoking damages, lungs making them more susceptible to respiratory infections, so don’t smoke. Keep your immune system strong by getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.

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