Is Bacterial Pneumonia Contagious
Whether or not bacterial pneumonia is contagious depends upon the type of bacteria causing the infection. In many cases, people contract pneumonia when bacteria they normally carry in the nose or throat are spread to the lungs. Most kinds of bacterial pneumonia are not highly contagious. However, pneumonia due to Mycoplasma pneumoniae and tuberculosis are exceptions. Both these types of bacterial pneumonia are highly contagious. These are spread among people by breathing in infected droplets that come from coughing or sneezing, similar to the spread of viral infections.
Bacterial Pneumonia: Symptoms Causes And Treatment
What is bacterial pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a common lung infection where the lungs air sacks become inflamed. These sacs may also fill with fluid, pus, and cellular debris. It can be caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria. This article is about pneumonia caused by bacteria.
Bacterial pneumonia may involve just one small section of your lung, or it may encompass your entire lung. Pneumonia can make it difficult for your body to get enough oxygen to your blood, which can cause cells to not work properly.
Bacterial pneumonia can be mild or serious. The severity of your pneumonia depends on:
- the strength of the bacteria
- how quickly you are diagnosed and treated
- your age
- if you have other conditions or diseases
The most common symptoms of bacterial pneumonia are:
Other symptoms that may follow include:
Older adults will share all the symptoms with younger adults, but are much more likely to experience confusion and dizziness. Older adults may also be less likely to have a fever.
What Can I Do To Feel Better If I Have Pneumonia
- Finish all medications and therapies prescribed by your doctor. Do not stop taking antibiotics when you start feeling better. Continue taking them until no pills remain. If you dont take all your antibiotics, your pneumonia may come back.
- If over-the-counter medicines to reduce fever have been recommended , take as directed on the label. Never give aspirin to children.
- Drink plenty of fluids to help loosen phlegm.
- Quit smoking if you smoke. Dont be around others who smoke or vape. Surround yourself with as much clean, chemical-free air as possible.
- Use a humidifier, take a steamy shower or bath to make it easier for you to breathe.
- Get lots of rest. Dont rush your recovery. It can take weeks to get your full strength back.
If at any time you start to feel worse, call your doctor right away.
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Organisms That Can Cause Pneumonia
|Type of Organism||Most Common Mode of Transmission||Classic Features|
|*most common cause of community acquired pneumonia in adults||*Typical pneumonia|
|common cause of pneumonia in 0-2 month old patients||Typical pneumonia||inhalation of organisms as neonate passes down birth canal||Group B Streptococcus, usually causes pneumonia in neonates.|
|Typical pneumonia||IV drug use, inhalation of droplets, post-influenza||Multiple bilateral nodular infiltrates with central cavitation. Inchildren one can see ill-defined, thin walled cavities ,bronchopleural fistulas, and empyema. Common cause of pneumonia in cysticfibrosis patients|
Diagnosis Of Bacterial Pneumonia
Initially, a physical examination is conducted on the patient. The doctor would examine the patients chest with the use of a stethoscope to determine if there are any abnormal sounds related to mucus build-up. Next, the medical history is reviewed to find out the cause.
Various diagnostic tests are conducted to confirm the diagnosis of bacterial pneumonia. Generally, the doctor will conduct a chest x-ray to figure out the areas of inflammation and infiltrate in the lungs. Additional tests such as CT scan and arterial blood gas is done to measure the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. A bronchoscopy also may be performed on the patient to collect a biopsy or mucus sample for testing.
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Respiratory And Circulatory Failure
Pneumonia can cause respiratory failure by triggering acute respiratory distress syndrome , which results from a combination of infection and inflammatory response. The lungs quickly fill with fluid and become stiff. This stiffness, combined with severe difficulties extracting oxygen due to the alveolar fluid, may require long periods of mechanical ventilation for survival. Other causes of circulatory failure are hypoxemia, inflammation, and increased coagulability.
is a potential complication of pneumonia but usually occurs in people with poor immunity or hyposplenism. The organisms most commonly involved are Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Klebsiella pneumoniae. Other causes of the symptoms should be considered such as a myocardial infarction or a pulmonary embolism.
How Can I Tell If I Have Pneumonia Versus The Common Cold Or The Flu
Do I have a cold or could it be the flu or even pneumonia? Its tough to tell the difference but critical to know when to seek medical care
Watch for these ongoing symptoms that occur in pneumonia:
- Serious congestion or chest pain.
- Difficulty breathing.
- A fever of 102 or higher.
- Coughing that produces pus.
Pneumonia symptoms last longer than cold and flu. If your symptoms arent severe, its okay to try such home remedies as getting more rest, drinking more fluids and taking some over-the-counter medicines and see what happens. But if you dont see improvement in your symptoms after three to five days, or if you are experiencing more serious symptoms such as dizziness or severe difficulty breathing, see your healthcare provider. Dont let it go. Pneumonia-like symptoms in very young children or in adults older than 65 are a cause for concern. Also, pneumonia can cause permanent lung damage if left untreated for too long. And always seek immediate care if you experience chest pain or have breathing difficulties.
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When To Call The Doctor
You should call your childs doctor if your child:
- Has trouble breathing or is breathing much faster than usual
- Has a bluish or gray color to the fingernails or lips
- Is older than 6 months and has a fever over 102°F
- Is younger than 6 months and has a temperature over 100.4°F.
- Has a fever for more than a few days after taking antibiotics
When your child should stay home and return to school or childcare
Are Vaccines Available To Prevent Pneumonia
Yes, there are two types of vaccines specifically approved to prevent pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria. Similar to a flu shot, these vaccines wont protect against all types of pneumonia, but if you do come down with pneumonia, its less likely to be as severe or potentially life-threatening especially for people who are at increased risk for pneumonia.
- Bacterial pneumonia: Two pneumonia vaccines, Pneumovax23® and Prevnar13®, protect against the most common causes of bacterial pneumonia.
- Pneumovax23® protects against 23 different types of pneumococcal bacteria. It is recommended for all adults 65 years of age and older and children over 2 years of age who are at increased risk for pneumonia.
- Prevnar13® protects against 13 types of pneumonia bacteria. It is recommended for all adults 65 years of age and older and children under 2 years of age. Ask your healthcare provider about these vaccines.
If you have children, ask their doctor about other vaccines they should get. Several childhood vaccines help prevent infections caused by the bacteria and viruses that can lead to pneumonia.
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How Is Bacterial Pneumonia Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will ask about your signs and symptoms and examine you. You may need any of the following tests:
- Pulse oximetry measures the amount of oxygen in your blood.
- Blood tests are used to check for infection.
- A chest x-ray may show signs of infection in your lungs.
- A mucus sample is collected and tested for the germ that is causing your illness. It can help your healthcare provider choose the best medicine to treat the infection.
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What Are The Complications Of Pneumonia
Most people with pneumonia respond well to treatment, but pneumonia can be very serious and even deadly.
You are more likely to have complications if you are an older adult, a very young child, have a weakened immune system, or have a serious medical problem like diabetes or cirrhosis. Complications may include:
Acute respiratory distress syndrome . This is a severe form of respiratory failure.
Lung abscesses. These are pockets of pus that form inside or around the lung. They may need to be drained with surgery
Respiratory failure. This requires the use of a breathing machine or ventilator.
This is when the infection gets into the blood. It may lead to organ failure.
Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
The management of pneumonia requires an interprofessional team. The reason is that most patients are managed as outpatients, but if not properly treated, the morbidity and mortality are high.
Besides administering antibiotics, these patients often require chest physical therapy, a dietary consult, physical therapy to help regain muscle mass, and a dental consult. The key is to educate the patient on the discontinuation of smoking and abstaining from alcohol.
Patients need to be referred to a dietitian to ensure that they are eating healthy.
Further, the clinicians should encourage patients to get appropriate influenza and pneumococcal vaccines. The pharmacist should teach about antibiotic compliance and ensure that the patient is prescribed the right antibiotics aimed at the target organism. An infectious disease specialty-trained pharmacist is particularly helpful in assisting the team with difficult antibiotic treatment choices. Nursing can counsel on the appropriate dosing and administration of medications and answer patient questions, as well as charting treatment progress, and reporting any issues to the clinician managing the case.
Finally, it is important to educate the patient to follow up with clinicians if they want a complete resolution of the infectious process. Only with open communication between the interprofessional team can the morbidity of pneumonia be lowered.
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Who Is Most At Risk For Getting Pneumonia
People who have an increased risk of pneumonia include:
- People over the age of 65 and infants under age 2. The weakening immune system of older people makes them less able to fight off illnesses. Similarly, the immune system of infants is still developing and not at full-strength, making them more susceptible to infection.
- People with a health-caused weakened immune system. Examples include:
- People who are receiving chemotherapy
- Transplanted organ recipients
- People who have HIV/AIDS
- People with autoimmune disease and who are taking medications that suppress the immune system.
Can Pneumonia Be Prevented
Check with your healthcare provider about getting immunizations. The flu is a common cause of pneumonia. Because of that, getting a flu shot every year can help prevent both the flu and pneumonia.
There is also a pneumococcal vaccine. It will protect you from a common form of bacterial pneumonia. Children younger than age 5 and adults ages 65 and older should get this shot.
The pneumococcal shot is also recommended for all children and adults who are at increased risk of pneumococcal disease due to other health conditions.
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How Is Pneumonia Treated
Treatment depends on the type of pneumonia you have. Most of the time, pneumonia is treated at home, but severe cases may be treated in the hospital. Antibiotics are used for bacterial pneumonia. Antibiotics may also speed recovery from mycoplasma pneumonia and some special cases. Most viral pneumonias dont have specific treatment. They usually get better on their own.
Other treatment may include eating well, increasing fluid intake, getting rest, oxygen therapy, pain medicine, fever control, and maybe cough-relief medicine if cough is severe.
How Common Is Pneumonia
Approximately 1 million adults in the United States are hospitalized each year for pneumonia and 50,000 die from the disease. It is the second most common reason for being admitted to the hospital — childbirth is number one. Pneumonia is the most common reason children are admitted to the hospital in the United States. Seniors who are hospitalized for pneumonia face a higher risk of death compared to any of the top 10 other reasons for hospitalization.
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Is Pneumonia Treated Any Differently In Children
Essentially no. Just like adults, bacterial causes of pneumonia in children may be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics are not used to treat pneumonia caused by viruses. Flu-related pneumonia may be treated with antiviral medicine if caught early in the course of illness. Most cases of pneumonia are treated with comfort care measures that ease symptoms. These may include:
- Drinking more fluids.
- Getting more rest.
- Taking over-the-counter medicines for cough and acetaminophen for fever. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about giving medicines to your child.
- Using a cool mist humidifier in your childs room.
How Can Parents Help
Kids with pneumonia need to get plenty of rest and drink lots of liquids while the body works to fight the infection.
If your child has bacterial pneumonia and the doctor prescribed antibiotics, give the medicine on schedule for as long as directed. Keeping up with the medicine doses will help your child recover faster and help prevent the infection from spreading to others in the family. If your child is wheezing, the doctor might recommend using breathing treatments.
Ask the doctor before you use a medicine to treat your child’s cough. Over-the-counter cough and cold medicines are not recommended for any kids under 6 years old. If your child doesnt seem to be feeling better in a few days, call your doctor for advice.
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Etiology Of Bacterial Pneumonia
Although pneumonia may be caused by myriad pathogens, a limited number of agents are responsible for most cases, Most authors categorize bacterial pneumonias by their infectious agents, which include pneumococcal agents Haemophilus influenzae Klebsiella, Staphylococcus, and Legionella species gram-negative organisms and aspirated micro-organisms. Microaspiration of organisms that colonize the upper respiratory tract and mucosal surfaces is probably the most common mode of infection. Some agents, notably Staphylococcus species, may be spread hematogenously.
Can You Catch Pneumonia More Than Once
Yes. Pneumonia is caused by many different microbes, and so getting it once does not protect you from getting it again. If you get pneumonia more than once you may need to have more investigations to understand why this has happened. It could be due to a problem in your chest or your immune system, and you may be referred to a specialist.
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Pearls And Other Issues
Differentiating Viral From Bacterial Pneumonia
Carl Heneghan, Annette Pluddemann and Kamal R. Mahtani
On behalf of the Oxford COVID-19 Evidence Service TeamCentre for Evidence-Based Medicine, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health SciencesUniversity of Oxford
VERDICTA severe complication of COVID-19 is viral pneumonia. Distinguishing viral pneumonia from bacterial pneumonia is difficult in the community. In some cases, they could co-exist, increasing the chance of a more unfortunate outcome. However, there may be important clues in the history and the examination that can help differentiate the two. Recent guidance from NICE will support clinicians in this process.
BACKGROUNDCommunity-acquired pneumonia can be caused by viruses, bacteria and fungi .
Viral pneumonia is a common complication of influenza-like illnesses and is a complication of SARS-COV-2. Viral pneumonia may clear up on its own however, when severe, it can be life-threatening. Viruses are generally not as common a cause of CAP as some bacteria. However, as well as being a primary pathogen, viruses can be a co-pathogen with bacteria, particularly in those with severe illness requiring admission to ICU and in ventilator-associated pneumonia.
Coronavirus has also been shown to occur with CAP. In a 2010 case-control study conducted in Israel , coronaviruses were identified in 24 patients with CAP, compared with 17 in control subjects.
Those more at risk include:
Differentiating viral and bacterial pneumonia
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Things That You Can Do To Help Your Child At Home Are
- Control the fever with the proper medicine and right strength for the age of your child. Fevers lower than 101° F do not need to be treated unless the child is uncomfortable .
- Give your child plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
- See that your child gets lots of rest.
- Do not give over-the-counter cough medicines or other OTC medicines without asking the health provider first. The child needs to cough and bring up the phlegm. Coughing is the bodys way of clearing the infection from the lungs.
- Avoid exposing your child to tobacco smoke or other irritants in the air.