Pneumonia is an infection caused by a bacteria or virus that fills up the lungs with fluid or pus, causing the alveoli (air sacs) to get irritated and swollen. This may result in a variety of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe.
Pneumonia can as well be caused by irritants or fungi that you breathe into your lungs. The severity of this infection depends on many factors which include; your age, the cause of pneumonia, and your overall health condition.
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Symptoms of Pneumonia:
The symptoms of pneumonia depend on the type you have and your risk factors and can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms are the same as the symptoms resulting from the flu or a cold. This includes;
- Bringing up mucus when you cough
- Chest pain
- Difficulty in breathing
Also, you may sweat, feel very weak, and have a headache. Some people also show symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
Causes of Pneumonia:
Most pneumonia cases are caused by:
1. Bacteria – this can cause pneumonia on their own, or after getting infected by the flu or a cold, and is very common in adult cases. Usually, bacterial pneumonia only affects one side of the lung.
2. Virus – any virus that affects the respiratory tract such as the virus that causes the common cold and the flu virus, can cause pneumonia. For children under the age of 1 year, the RSV (respiratory synctial virus) is the most usual cause of pneumonia. Viral pneumonia happens to be mild and usually gets better in 1 to 3 weeks on its own.
3. Fungi – some fungal infections also often lead to pneumonia, particularly in people with a weak immune system.
4. People also get infected with pneumonia through aspiration – when you inhale particles like liquids, food, vomit, or saliva, into your lungs. Most times it happens after vomiting when you don’t have the strength to cough out the particles. Then the particles will result in irritation, swelling, and get infected thereby causing pneumonia.
Tips to Prevent Pneumonia:
By doing the following tips, you can help prevent pneumonia;
1. Collect the pneumococcal vaccine, which helps to prevent pneumonia resulting from pneumococcal bacteria.
2. Collect the flu vaccine every year – people can get infected with bacterial pneumonia after a case of flu. Getting the yearly flu shot can help reduce the risk.
3. Do not smoke, as this damages the lungs, making it more difficult for your body to fight against germs and disease.
4. Practice good hygiene by frequently washing your hands with soap and water, or by using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
5. Avoid sick people as this will reduce your risk of getting infected also.
6. Practice a healthy lifestyle to help your immune system remain strong. Exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet full of vegetables and fruits and get plenty of rest.
Treatment for Pneumonia:
Treating pneumonia depends on many factors such as how severe your symptoms are, your overall health condition, what caused your pneumonia, and your age.
Your doctor will perhaps prescribe antibiotics for bacterial pneumonia. This will help relieve most of your symptoms within a few days. A cough can persist for several weeks but, if you adhere to your doctor’s prescription carefully, it will remove all the bacteria in your body and prevent your pneumonia from coming back.
Your doctor won’t prescribe antibiotics if you have a viral infection. Over-the-counter drugs are available to treat your symptoms like reducing your fever, easing your cough, and relieving your pain.
Antifungal medication can be prescribed if a fungus caused pneumonia. But, you may need to be hospitalized if your case of pneumonia is very severe.