Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lungs that refers to an infection of the lungs. Cough and shortness of breath are two significant symptoms of this disease.
Pneumonia refers to an infection in the lungs and can occur for a variety of reasons. The disease usually begins with a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection and can be life-threatening. The person with the disease becomes inflamed, and small air sacs or alveoli inside the lungs fill with fluid. Pneumonia, also known as pneumonia and pneumonia, can occur in young and healthy people. Still, the elderly, infants, the sick, and those with defective immune systems are at their most dangerous.
What is pneumonia?
This disease refers to a lung infection and can cause mild to severe illness in people. It is the leading cause of death from infection in children under five years of age. It is not wrong to know that pneumonia and influenza are the eighth leading cause of death in the United States. About one million people are treated for pneumonia each year in the United States, and about 50,000 people die from the disease.
Symptoms of pneumonia
The first sign of pneumonia is usually similar to the symptoms of a cold or flu. The person then develops a high fever, chills, and cough with sputum. Common symptoms of pneumonia are listed below:
- Rapid breathing and shortness of breath
- Chest pain that usually gets worse with deep breathing
- Rapid heartbeat
- Fatigue and weakness
- nausea and vomiting
- Muscular pain
- Confusion or delirium, especially in the elderly
- Dark skin due to lack of oxygen in the blood
Note that symptoms may vary depending on other underlying conditions and the type of disease.
What are the causes of pneumonia?
Bacteria and viruses are the leading causes of this disease. The germs that cause the disease can settle in the alveoli and multiply in them after a person breathes. Interestingly, pneumonia can be contagious, and the bacteria and viruses that cause it are usually inhaled. These viruses and bacteria can be transmitted through coughing and sneezing or by touching objects.
In general, this disease can occur for various reasons. For example, pneumonia is often caused by another illness or infection, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, influenza, or Covid-19. When a person’s immune system is healthy, his body can often prevent severe infections. However, if bacteria, fungi, or viruses overwhelm the immune system, a more severe illness may develop. Keep in mind that the body sends white blood cells to fight infection; This causes the airbags to become inflamed. Bacteria and viruses fill the lung sacs with fluid and pus and cause pneumonia. (Moderna Corona Vaccine And Efficacy 94.5%)
Types of pneumonia
Bacterial pneumonia: The most common cause of this type of pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumonia, But many other bacteria can also cause it.
- Viral pneumonia: This type of pneumonia can be caused by the obstructive respiratory virus (RSV) and influenza A and B.
- Aspiration pneumonia: This type of pneumonia usually occurs when a person breathes food, fluid, or stomach contents into the lungs. Aspiration pneumonia is not contagious.
- Fungal pneumonia: This pneumonia is caused by a disease such as caused by Rift Valley fever.
- Hospital-acquired pneumonia: This type of pneumonia may occur in patients treated in the hospital for other conditions. For example, it may occur in people who need a respirator for a variety of reasons.
The disease has similar signs and symptoms, regardless of the cause.
Methods of diagnosing pneumonia
The doctor first asks the person about the symptoms and medical history and performs a physical examination. If he hears a loud breathing sound, wheezing, or shortness of breath while listening to his chest sound through a stethoscope, he may suspect pneumonia. Your doctor may also check your blood oxygen level with a device called an oximeter, which is used to measure the percentage of blood oxygen saturation to ensure your respiratory system’s health. Here are some ways to diagnose pneumonia:
- Chest X-ray: This test can confirm the diagnosis and show which parts of the lungs are affected.
- Chest CT scan: This will give you more accurate information about the disease.
- Blood test: A blood test measures the number of white blood cells. In this test, the severity of the infection is determined, and the exact cause of the type of pneumonia (bacterial, viral, or fungal) is determined.
- Blood culture: This method may show if the microorganism has spread from the lungs to the bloodstream.
- Arterial Blood Gas (ABG) Test: This test may show more accurate characteristics of the body’s oxygen and carbon dioxide levels and other factors.
- Sputum test: Doing this can determine which organism caused pneumonia.
- Bronchoscopy: This procedure is sometimes done for further examination.
Another way to diagnose the disease is to place the patient under anesthesia, and the doctor inserts a thin, flexible, light tube called a bronchoscope into the lungs. Doing so enables the doctor to examine the infected parts of the airways and lungs directly.
Treatment of this disease depends on its type and severity. The bacterial types of pneumonia are usually treated with antibiotics. The viral types are usually treated with rest and plenty of fluids, and the fungal types of pneumonia are usually treated with antifungal drugs. Your doctor will usually prescribe over-the-counter medications to help manage the disease symptoms, including treatments to reduce fever, reduce pain, and improve cough. Also, it is essential to rest and drink plenty of fluids; Because staying hydrated will help reduce the concentration of sputum and thus reduce coughing.
If a person has severe symptoms or a weakened immune system and other serious illnesses, they may be hospitalized for treatment. In the hospital, patients are generally treated with antibiotics and intravenous fluids; They may also need oxygen.
Home remedies for pneumonia:
It is an inflammatory disorder of the lungs caused by an infection of the airways. This disease is severe, and home remedies do not cure it, But some home remedies may help reduce symptoms and improve recovery.
You should know that this disease can be life-threatening; Therefore, it is necessary to see a doctor. Many people have to be hospitalized, after which recovery may take several weeks or months. Note that medical treatment is necessary, But home remedies can help manage symptoms.
Depending on the cause of pneumonia, your doctor may prescribe medication to treat the infection. In addition to medication, he advises the patient to do the following:
- plenty of rest
- Eat nutritious foods
- Drink plenty of fluids
- We will discuss these in more detail below.
If the lungs produce excess mucus as part of the immune response, the body uses coughing to flush these fluids out of the lungs. For this reason, your doctor may not recommend cough medicine. However, some natural remedies may help reduce the severity of the cough, including:
- Peppermint tea, eucalyptus, and fenugreek
Many hot herbal teas can help soothe a sore throat, but herbs are more beneficial. Studies conducted in 2011 showed that herbs, including mint and eucalyptus, positively affect the throat of people with upper respiratory tract infections. These herbs may help break down mucus, reduce pain and inflammation caused by pneumonia.
A 2018 study found that fenugreek seeds may help break down mucus. Therefore, tea made from ground fenugreek seeds can relieve a persistent cough. Eucalyptus and tea tree oils may also help relieve cough. Of course, people should pay attention to the fact that in the beginning, limit the consumption of these oils; Because the use of these oils in some people will worsen the symptoms.
- Gargle with saltwater
The presence of mucus in the throat and chest can cause more coughing and irritation; But gargling with warm salt water may help clear the mucus or germs in the throat, thereby relieving the cough.
- Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath is another common symptom of a respiratory infection that should be taken very seriously; Therefore, if a person has difficulty breathing, he needs immediate medical attention if the symptoms are mild.
Drinking a small amount of caffeine, such as a coffee or black or green tea, may help open the lungs’ airways and make breathing easier.
- Hot and humid air
Inhaling warm, humid air may make it easier for the person to breathe and prevent a sore throat. Breathing in the steam from taking a hot shower or breathing in a cup of hot tea may help relieve shortness of breath.
Rest is essential for repairing the body’s cells and is especially useful in improving shortness of breath. A person with pneumonia should get enough rest and minimize their stress.
- Ginger or turmeric tea
Persistent coughing can lead to chest pain. Drinking hot tea made with fresh ginger or turmeric root may help reduce the pain. It is interesting to know that each of these plants’ roots can have a natural anti-inflammatory effect on the body. (What Are The Benefits Of Turmeric?)
It is enough to crush a piece of the root of each of them to the size of a thumb and boil it in a glass of water. If one prefers strong tea, one can boil it for a long time or add more root. If this tea’s taste was very spicy, you could add a spoonful of honey to it. (12 Useful Properties Of Using Ginger + Its Side Effects)
- Consume plenty of fluids
When a person has a fever, consuming fluids and electrolytes can prevent dehydration. Drinking cold beverages can significantly cool the body and thus help reduce fever.
- Fenugreek tea
A study in 2018 shows that making tea from fenugreek seeds may cause a person to sweat and reduce his body temperature by a large amount.
- Homes without a prescription
Some over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil), can help reduce fever and pain. Note that you should take these medications with food and do not exceed the recommended amount.
- Bath or compress of lukewarm water
Soaking your body in lukewarm water may help cool it down. If bathing is not possible for you, you can put a towel on your body after immersion in lukewarm water. Doing so helps cool the body and thus reduces fever. Note that as soon as the towel warms up, you should dip it in the water again and place it on your body.
- Hot liquids
herbal teas and soups may help warm the body and prevent chills.
- Natural compounds
Several household products contain compounds that may help boost a person’s recovery process.
- Indian pepper
- Tea tree oil
Note that none of the above can cure pneumonia and related diseases such as Covid-19 and are only recommended for the patient to improve and manage symptoms. It is most effective when the symptoms are mild, or the patient is recovering.
When should we see a doctor?
In general, anyone who has trouble breathing should see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Note that the patient must follow all the tips recommended by the doctor; So be sure to pay attention to them, and if your symptoms worsen or you do not experience any significant improvement after a few days, you should see a doctor.
Pneumonia in children
Most children’s immune systems can protect against pneumonia; So if a child gets the disease, it is usually because of a virus. Symptoms of this disease in children include the following:
- Difficulty breathing
- Inadequacy to food
- bad temper
Children may feel pain in their chest and vomit after coughing. Treatment for this disease in children includes adequate rest and regular fluid intake. Your doctor may prescribe medication for your baby’s abdominal problems, But cough medicines will not improve the condition. Note that adults should never smoke around children; Because this will increase their risk and severity.
Risk factors for pneumonia in individuals:
Pneumonia can affect anyone; But some conditions and risk factors will increase it, which we will mention in the following:
- Age under five years or over 65 years
- Smoking or drinking alcohol
- Underlying conditions such as cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and conditions affecting the kidneys, heart, or liver
- Diseases that cause weakness or disorders of the body’s immune system, such as AIDS and cancer
- Medications used for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- People who have recently had a cold or flu infection
- Those who have recently been admitted to the intensive care unit for various reasons
- People exposed to certain chemicals or contaminants
Coronavirus and pneumonia:
The main symptoms of Covid-19 include persistent dry cough and fever. If a person has severe chest pain or difficulty breathing, your doctor will treat it with pneumonia. The person may need to be hospitalized and use a respirator to help them breathe. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people experience mild symptoms and stay home until they feel better. If a person has more severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, they should be hospitalized immediately.
Methods of preventing pneumonia
There are two vaccines available to prevent pneumonia: the Prevnar conjugate vaccine and the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine. These vaccines cover a wide range of pneumonic infections and are recommended for children and adults depending on different health conditions. Keep in mind that Prevnar is usually recommended for vaccinating infants and in some medical conditions for children under two years of age, adults over 65 years of age, and between 2 and 64 years of age.
Pneumovax (PPSV23) is also recommended for children and adults at higher risk for pneumococcal infections. In the following, we will introduce these people:
- Adults 65 years and older
- People with diabetes
- People with chronic heart, lung, or kidney disease
- People who smoke or drink alcohol
- People who have had their spleen removed during surgery for various reasons
People 2 to 64 years old with other medical conditions are recommended to use this vaccine. Note that this vaccine may not completely protect the elderly against pneumonia. Still, it can significantly reduce the risk of developing it and other infections caused by pneumonia, including blood and brain infections.
In addition to vaccinations, doctors recommend the following:
- Regular hand washing
- Taking the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
- Refrain from smoking
- Eat healthy foods
- Exercise (at least five days a week)
- Avoid people who cough or have pneumonia
Most people recover within one to three weeks of getting pneumonia. Those with severe symptoms should be vaccinated.
Preventing pneumonia naturally
Prevention of pneumonia is not always possible; But some lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of developing or experiencing severe symptoms, which we will mention below:
- Adopt a varied and healthy diet
- Regular exercise
- Not smoking
- Manage stress levels and get enough sleep
- Practice washing your hands regularly to reduce the risk of infection
- Follow all your doctor’s instructions to stay healthy
Keep in mind that a healthy lifestyle can help strengthen the body to fight infections, including those that lead to pneumonia.
Pneumonia is related to a lung infection and can be life-threatening. The disease often requires medical treatment and people usually have to spend weeks or months in hospital for treatment. Doing some home remedies can help manage and improve your symptoms. Vaccination is also recommended to prevent the disease.