Causes of Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory illness of the lung. Frequently, it is described as lung parenchyma/alveolar inflammation and abnormal alveolar filling with fluid. (The alveoli are microscopic air-filled sacs in the lungs responsible for absorbing oxygen from the atmosphere.) Pneumonia can result from a variety of causes, including infection with bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites, and chemical or physical injury to the lungs.
There are many kinds of pneumonia ranging in seriousness from mild to life-threatening. Pneumonia acquired while in the hospital can be particularly virulent and deadly. Although signs and symptoms vary, many cases of pneumonia develop suddenly, with chest pain, fever, chills, cough and shortness of breath. Infection often follows a cold or the flu, but it can also be associated with other illnesses or occur on its own.
What causes pneumonia?
Germs called bacteria or viruses usually cause pneumonia.Pneumonia usually starts when you breathe the germs into your lungs. You may be more likely to get the disease after having a cold or the flu. These illnesses make it hard for your lungs to fight infection, so it is easier to get pneumonia. Having a long-term, or chronic, disease like asthma, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes also makes you more likely to get pneumonia.
Bacteria are the most common cause of pneumonia. However, pneumonia can also be caused by viruses, fungi, and other agents. It is often impossible to identify the specific culprit.Your body has many mechanisms in place to fight off infection. If fact, you are frequently exposed to organisms that can cause pneumonia, but your body normally protects against them through its various defense mechanisms.
Symptoms of Pneumonia
General flu-like symptoms often occur first. They may include fatigue, fever, weakness, headache, nasal discharge, sore throat, earache, and stomach and intestinal distress.
Vague pain under and around the breastbone may occur, but the severe chest pain associated with typical bacterial pneumonia is uncommon.
Fungi. Certain types of fungus also can cause pneumonia, although these types of pneumonia are much less common. Most people experience few if any symptoms after inhaling these fungi, but some develop symptoms of acute pneumonia, and still others may develop a chronic pneumonia that persists for months.
Treatment of Pneumonia
If your child’s doctor has prescribed antibiotics for bacterial pneumonia, give the medicine on schedule for as long as the doctor directs. This will help your child recover faster and will decrease the chance that infection will spread to other household members.
Drink plenty of nonalcoholic fluids to stay hydrated. This helps your body fight the pneumonia. Anti-fever medicines such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) may also help you feel better.
Viral pneumonia does not respond to antibiotic treatment. This type of pneumonia usually resolves over time. If the lungs become infected with a secondary bacterial infection, the doctor will prescribe an appropriate antibiotic to eliminate the bacterial infection.