Disease Process Leading To Pneumonia
Pneumonia-causing agents reach the lungs through different routes:
- In most cases, a person breathes in the infectious organism, which then travels through the airways to the lungs.
- Sometimes, the normally harmless bacteria in the mouth, or on items placed in the mouth or swallowed, can enter the lungs. This usually happens if the bodys gag reflex, an extreme throat contraction that keeps substances out of the lungs, is not working properly.
- Infections can spread through the bloodstream from other organs to the lungs.
However, in normal situations, the airways protect the lungs from substances that can cause infection.
- The nose filters out large particles.
- If smaller particles pass through, nerves along the airway prompt a cough or sneeze. This forces many particles back out of the body.
- Tiny particles that reach the small tubes in the lungs are trapped in a thick, sticky substance called mucus. The mucus and particles are pushed up and out of the lungs by tiny hair-like cells called cilia, which beat like a drum. This action is called the mucociliary escalator.
- If bacteria or other infectious organisms manage to avoid the airways defenses, the bodys immune system attacks them. Large white blood cells called macrophages destroy the foreign particles.
The above-mentioned defense systems normally keep the lungs healthy. If these defenses are weakened or damaged, however, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites can easily infect the lungs, producing pneumonia.
When Would I Need To Be Hospitalized For Pneumonia
If your case of pneumonia is more severe, you may need tostay in the hospital for treatment. Hospital treatments may include:
- Fluids, antibiotics and other medicines given through an IV
- Breathing treatments and exercises to help loosen mucus
People most likely to be hospitalized are those who are most frail and/or at increased risk, including:
- Babies and young children
- People with weakened immune systems
- People with health conditions that affect the heart and lungs
It may take six to eight weeks to return to a normal level of functioning and well-being if youve been hospitalized with pneumonia.
What Is Walking Pneumonia
Walking pneumonia is a mild case of pneumonia. It is often caused by a virus or the mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria. When you have walking pneumonia, your symptoms may not be as severe or last as long as someone who has a more serious case of pneumonia. You probably wont need bed rest or to stay in the hospital when you have walking pneumonia.
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What Is The Outlook If I Have Aspiration Pneumonia
Most people who get aspiration pneumonia and get treatment will survive. The prognosis for aspiration pneumonia also depends on your overall health and other conditions that you may have and how sick you were when you started treatment.
Untreated aspiration pneumonia can be dangerous, resulting in things like lung abscesses or lung scarring. In fact, it can result in death.
How Is Bacterial Pneumonia Treated
Bacterial pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics, which usually help people feel better within a few days to a week.
People who are very old, very young, have shortness of breath, or have a high fever may need to be admitted to the hospital for intravenous antibiotics. If you need to go to the hospital, your doctor may do cultures from sputum or blood tests to identify and target the exact bacteria.
People with more severe cases of bacterial pneumonia may be treated with oxygen, intravenous fluids, and breathing treatments to ease symptoms.
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How Do Cats Get Pneumonia
Pneumonia is caused by initial damage to the lungs which is then aggravated by complications such as bacterial infection.
Pneumonia is more likely to develop and progress if a cats natural immune system is unable to effectively ward off either the primary cause or the secondary bacterial pneumonia complications. This is why the disease is more common in senior cats, and small animals such as kittens.
Risk Factors For Hospital
Pneumonia that is contracted in the hospital is called hospital-acquired, or nosocomial, pneumonia. It is the most common hospital-acquired infection in the intensive care unit . It affects an estimated 5 to 10 of every 1,000 hospitalized patients every year. More than half of these cases may be due to strains of bacteria that have developed resistance to antibiotics. In fact, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and multidrug-resistant P aeruginosa are leading causes of death from hospital-acquired pneumonia. Those at highest risk are:
- Older people and the very young.
- People with long-term or severe medical conditions, such as lung problems, heart disease, nervous system disorders, and cancer.
- People who have had surgery, particularly people over age 80 years. Among the surgical procedures that pose a particular risk are removal of the spleen , abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, or operations that impair coughing.
- People who have been in the ICU. This is particularly true for newborns or patients on breathing machines . People who lie flat on their backs are at particular risk for aspiration pneumonia. Raising the person up may reduce this risk.
- People who have received sedation. Hospital patients who receive sedatives also have a higher risk of developing nosocomial pneumonia.
- People who received antibiotics within the previous 90 days.
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Spreading Pneumonia To Others
If your pneumonia is caused by a virus or bacteria, you may spread the infection to other people while you are contagious. How long you are contagious depends on what is causing the pneumonia and whether you get treatment. You may be contagious for several days to a week.
If you get antibiotics, you usually cannot spread the infection to others after a day of treatment.
Can Pneumonia Go Away On Its Own
Mild cases of pneumonia may go away on their own, but more severe cases will need medical treatment.
However, its important to note that even mild cases of pneumonia can be dangerous, so its always best to seek medical help.
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help clear the infection.
If you have a severe case of pneumonia, you may need to be hospitalized so that you can receive treatment and be monitored closely.
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Pneumonia Can Be Caused By Bacterial Viral Or Fungal Infections
Pneumonia is a type of lung infection that causes the air sacs in the lungs to fill with liquid.
There are different types of pneumonia. In most cases, pneumonia is caused by a bacterial or viral infection. In rarer cases, pneumonia can be caused by inhaling fluid into the lungs, or from a fungal infection.
However, healthcare providers arent always able to identify a cause for pneumonia: one study found that in up to 62% of pneumonia cases no pathogen like a virus, bacteria, or fungus is identified.
When people discuss types of pneumonia, they also consider how severe the infection is. For example, walking pneumonia is a nonmedical term thats used to refer to a mild case of pneumonia, where the patient can still be up and walking around. People also distinguish pneumonia cases by where they were picked up: for example, hospital-acquired pneumonia or community-acquired pneumonia.
Southern Cross Medical Library
The purpose of the Southern Cross Medical Library is to provide information of a general nature to help you better understand certain medical conditions. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. This information is not intended to relate specifically to insurance or healthcare services provided by Southern Cross. For more articles go to the Medical Library index page.
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When Should I See My Healthcare Provider About Aspiration Pneumonia
If you have worrisome symptoms like chest pain, fever and difficulty breathing, call your provider or seek emergency medical help. Pneumonia can get worse more quickly than you realize.
If you often feel like you are choking, or have difficulty swallowing, see your provider. You may need to see a specialist who can help you find out why you are choking or having problems swallowing. You may need to change what and how you eat and drink.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Pneumonia is an infection in your lungs. One of the ways you can get this infection is by inhaling saliva, food, stomach contents or even foreign objects into your lungs, which is called aspiration pneumonia. This type is more common among certain people, including people with nerve disorders or swallowing issues. Aspiration pneumonia is generally treated with antibiotics. Treatment is successful for most people. Make sure you contact your healthcare provider if you have chest pain, fever and difficulty breathing. As with most conditions, the best outcomes happen when aspiration pneumonia is found early.
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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About Dr Pete Wedderburn Dvm
Dr Pete Wedderburn qualified as a vet from Edinburgh in 1985 and has run his own 4-veterinarian companion animal practice in County Wicklow, Ireland, since 1991. Pete is well known as a media veterinarian with regular national tv, radio and newspaper slots, including a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph since 2007. Pete is known as “Pete the Vet” on his busy Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages, regularly posting information on topical subjects and real-life cases from his clinic. He also write a regular blog at www.petethevet.com. His latest book: Pet Subjects, was published by Aurum Press in 2017.
Cough And Cold Medicines
Be careful with cough and cold medicines. They may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems, so check the label first. If you do use these medicines, always follow the directions about how much to use based on age and weight.
Always check to see if any over-the-counter cough or cold medicines you are taking contain acetaminophen. If they do, make sure the acetaminophen you are taking in your cold medicine plus any other acetaminophen you may be taking is not higher than the daily recommended dose. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how much you can take every day.
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Can Pneumonia Affect Your Heart
An acute infection like pneumonia increases the stress on the heart and can lead to a cardiac event like heart failure, heart attack or arrhythmias, said Weston Harkness, DO, a cardiology fellow at Samaritan Cardiology – Corvallis. For a healthy person, a case of pneumonia is very unlikely to lead to a cardiac event.
Occupational And Regional Pneumonias
Exposure to chemicals can also cause inflammation and pneumonia. Where you work and live can put you at higher risk for exposure to pneumonia-causing organisms.
- Workers exposed to cattle, pigs, sheep, and horses are at risk for pneumonia caused by anthrax, brucella, and Coxiella burnetii .
Inhalation or respiratory anthrax is a life-threatening infectious disease caused by inhaling the spores of the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Although the spores are dormant when breathed in, they germinate when exposed to a warm, moist environment, such as the lungs. Not all particles are small enough to pass into the alveoli, or air sacs, but those that do begin to multiply and may spread to the lymphatic system. When the spores germinate, several toxins are released. Particles illustrated are not to scale.
- Agricultural and construction workers in the Southwest are at risk for coccidioidomycosis . The disease is caused by the spores of the fungi Coccidioides immitis and Coccidiodes posadasii.
- Those working in Ohio and the Mississippi Valley are at risk for histoplasmosis, a lung disease caused by the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum. This fungus grows well in areas enriched with bird or bat droppings.
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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.
Is Pneumonia Contagious
Certain types of pneumonia are contagious . Pneumonia caused by bacteria or viruses can be contagious when the disease-carrying organisms are breathed into your lungs. However, not everyone who is exposed to the germs that cause pneumonia will develop it.
Pneumonia caused by fungi are not contagious. The fungi are in soil, which becomes airborne and inhaled, but it is not spread from person to person.
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How Do The Lungs Work
Your lungs main job is to get oxygen into your blood and remove carbon dioxide. This happens during breathing. You breathe 12 to 20 times per minute when you are not sick. When you breathe in, air travels down the back of your throat and passes through your voice box and into your windpipe . Your trachea splits into two air passages . One bronchial tube leads to the left lung, the other to the right lung. For the lungs to perform their best, the airways need to be open as you breathe in and out. Swelling and mucus can make it harder to move air through the airways, making it harder to breathe. This leads to shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and feeling more tired than normal.
Signs Symptoms And Treatment Of Pneumonia
The weather is cold and the runny noses and coughing have started. When I worked in primary care pediatrics, I cared for many children who had a runny noses, coughing, congestion and fever. Most of the time, children that had viral illnesses in the upper respiratory tract and they got better quickly with supportive care. What about an infection in the lower respiratory tract? This is called pneumonia, which is when fluid and pus fill the lungs. The condition can be more serious than a regular cold.
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Can I Prevent Pneumonia
The routine vaccinations that most people receive as kids help prevent certain types of pneumonia and other infections. If you have a chronic illness, such as sickle cell disease, you may have received extra vaccinations and disease-preventing antibiotics to help prevent pneumonia and other infections caused by bacteria.
People should get a pneumococcal vaccination if they have diseases that affect their immune system , are 65 years or older, or are in other high-risk groups. Depending on the bugs that are likely to affect them, these people also may get antibiotics to prevent pneumonia, as well as antiviral medicine to prevent or lessen the effects of viral pneumonia.
Doctors recommend that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu shot. Thats because someone with the flu could then come down with pneumonia. Call your doctors office or check your local health department to see when these vaccines are available.
Because pneumonia is often caused by germs, a good way to prevent it is to keep your distance from anyone you know who has pneumonia or other respiratory infections. Use separate drinking glasses and eating utensils wash your hands often with warm, soapy water and avoid touching used tissues and paper towels.
You also can stay strong and help avoid some of the illnesses that might lead to pneumonia by eating as healthily as possible, getting a minimum of 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night, and not smoking.
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What Are The Symptoms
Symptoms of pneumonia may include:
- Cough. You will likely cough up mucus from your lungs. Mucus may be rusty or green or tinged with blood.
- Fever, chills, and sweating.
- Feeling very tired or very weak.
When you have less severe symptoms, your doctor may call this “walking pneumonia.”
Older adults may have different, fewer, or milder symptoms. They may not have a fever. Or they may have a cough but not bring up mucus. The main sign of pneumonia in older adults may be a change in how well they think. Confusion or delirium is common. Or, if they already have a lung disease, that disease may get worse.
Symptoms caused by viruses are the same as those caused by bacteria. But they may come on slowly and often are not as obvious or as bad.
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