Pneumonia is the infection of the lungs, affecting the alveoli, the microscopic air sacs. It is caused by viral or bacterial infection, some medical conditions like autoimmune diseases, and certain drugs.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 53,282 people died from pneumonia, with 16.9 deaths per 100,000 population. Nearly 1.1 million people are discharged from the hospital while the average length of stay in the hospital is 5.2 days. With these figures, it is also reported that 61.3 percent of adults 65 years old and above received pneumococcal vaccination.
Causes and Risk Factors
Cigarette smoking stands as the strongest risk factor for pneumonia in healthy young people, as per Web MD. Age also counts, especially people who are less than one year old and older than 65 years old. An impaired immune system also predisposes a person to be at risk for pneumonia and medications, such as proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec, Protonix) reduce the levels of stomach acid. People who are in crowded places, such as dormitory, colleges, and nursing homes are also susceptible, in addition to people who drink excessive amounts of alcohol.
A person’s nature of work may also lead to pneumonia, according to Family Doctor. As per the publication, working in environments with chemicals, pollution, dust, or toxic fumes, can lead to lung damage and make people vulnerable to infections like pneumonia. Conversely, a major surgery or a serious injury also weaken the immune system and makes it difficult for a person to cough. Also, these conditions may require bed rest, may permit accumulation of mucus in the lungs as well as bacterial growth.
The signs and symptoms for pneumonia may range from mild to severe and they are dictated by associated factors, such as the overall health status of the person’s body, as well as the type of microorganism that caused the infection. According to Mayo Clinic, the signs and symptoms of pneumonia include fever, sweating, shaking chills, cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, or vomiting. As per the publication no signs of infection may be present in newborns and infants; however, they may experience fever, cough, and vomiting, in addition to difficulty eating and breathing. For people more than 65 years old, people who have weakened immune system, and people in poor health, changes in mental awareness may be present.
Since pneumonia is caused by a microorganism, part of the core goals of the medical management is to eradicate infection with the use of medications. As per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, treatment would involve utilization of a broad-spectrum cephalosphorin and vancomycin, until antibiotic sensitivity findings are available. In 2000, the introduction of the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine decreased antibiotic resistance; however, it increased again. In 2007, a broader proportion of pneumococci became susceptible to penicillin. In January 2008, clinical response to penicillin was preserved in clinical studies of pneumococcal infection.
According to Web MD, positive progress is seen in people in two to three days. As per the publication, the doctor would not change the treatment for at least three days.
Pneumonia can be deadly, especially in children. It is important to contact the physician if a person experiences a crushing or squeezing chest pain, which progresses in intensity; difficulty of breathing; coughing with blood; and feeling of fainting upon sitting up or standing up. Also, medical attention is needed if the mucus in one’s cough is yellow or green in color and lasts for two days, as well as a fever of 101 degrees Farenheit (38.33 degrees Celsius).