The advent of winter also brings with it various illnesses. Dealing with cough and cold is not difficult but if pneumonia strikes one has to deal with it seriously because it can become life threatening and is the biggest cause of child mortality around the globe. It contributes to 18 percent of the total child deaths worldwide. Pneumonia is quite rampant in Pakistan and the world over.
What is Pneumonia?
Ans: Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that is caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites. It is characterized primarily by inflammation of the alveoli in the lungs or by alveoli that are filled with fluid (alveoli are microscopic sacs in the lungs that absorb oxygen). One may cough, run a fever and have hard time breathing. The severity of pneumonia usually depends upon the cause of the inflammation or by the type of organism causing infection, a person’s age, and their general health. However it is most dangerous for the elderly, babies and people with other diseases or impaired immune systems. People whose immune system is not working well are less able to fight off germs. Because of this state, they are more likely to become infected by germs that typically do not cause disease in healthy people. They are also more vulnerable to the usual causes of pneumonia can affect anyone.
What are the major types of pneumonia?
Ans: The major types of pneumonia are: 1. Bacterial pneumonia: It can affect any one at any age. It can develop on its own or after a serious cold or flu. 2. Viral pneumonia: It is an inflammation of the lungs due to infection with a virus. In most cases respiratory viruses can cause pneumonia, especially in young children and the elderly. Pneumonia is usually not serious and lasts a short time. However, flu virus can cause viral pneumonia to be severe or fatal. It’s especially harmful to pregnant women or individuals with heart or lung disease.
What are the causes?
Ans: Bacteria and viruses are the primary causes of pneumonia. One might be prone to the disease after having a cold or the flu as these illnesses make it hard for the lungs to fight the infection.
What are the symptoms of pneumonia?
Ans: Symptoms of pneumonia can range from mild to life threatening. However the symptoms of pneumonia caused by bacteria usually come on quickly and include: • Cough. You will likely cough up mucus from your lungs. Mucus may be rusty or green or tinged with blood. • Fever. • Fast breathing and shortness of breath. • Shaking and teeth chattering. • Chest pain that often feels worse when you cough or breathe in. • Fast heart beat. • Nausea and vomiting • Diarrhea.
How is pneumonia diagnosed?
Ans: An x-ray and a blood test are done to diagnose pneumonia.
What is the treatment?
Ans: You need to take a lot of rest and sleep and drink lots of liquids and treat your cough. Breathing warm moist air helps loosen the sticky mucus that may make you feel like you are choking. These things may help: • Place a warm wet wash cloth loosely over your nose and mouth. • Use a humidifier in the room.
Ans: With treatment most patients will improve within 2 weeks. Elderly or sick patients may need longer treatment.