Pneumonia: What are its symptoms, causes and how to cure it

Pneumonia is a respiratory disease, it consists of a infection that inflames the air sacs of one or both lungs. Causing the lung alveoli to fill with fluid or pus and make it difficult for oxygen to get into the bloodstream. Your treatment depends on whether it is mild or severe, according to the causes of the infection. But in both cases it generates symptoms such as fever, cough with phlegm or pus, chills and trouble breathing. How to cure it? We will talk about all this below.

This respiratory condition can become life threatening. It is even more serious in babies and young children, people over 65 years of age, and patients with health problems or who have a weakened immune system.

Is pneumonia contagious?

It may be the first question that comes to mind for someone diagnosed with the disease. In general terms, pneumonia is not contagious, however, the bacteria and viruses of the upper respiratory tract that generate it yes they are contagious. They are usually present in fluids expelled from the nose and mouth of infected people. In this sense, the person is capable of transmitting the disease to others when they cough or sneeze.

One should also avoid sharing glasses or cutlery and touching the used tissues of an infected person, as it can transmit pneumonia. That said, it is best to keep children and vulnerable people away from anyone with signs of a respiratory infection. The question now is, how to recognize an infected individual? You will know immediately.

Symptoms of pneumonia

Woman with cough and shortness of breath

According to whether the pneumonia is moderate or severe, the signs and symptoms of this disease can vary. They also depend on the type of germ that caused the infection, the age and general health of the person. Typically, when pneumonia is mild, its symptoms may be similar to a common cold or flu, but last longer.

Symptoms and signs of pneumonia may include the following:

  • Cough that usually produces phlegm
  • Chest pain when breathing or coughing.
  • Fever.
  • Fatigue.
  • Chills with shaking.
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation and lower body temperatures (in adults 65 years and older).

In the case of newborns and babies, you may show no symptoms to be suffering from the disease. But, it can also happen that they vomit, have a fever, cough, appear restless or tired, have difficulty breathing or eating.

Causes of pneumonia

Many infectious agents like germs can cause pneumonia. The most common are viruses and bacteria that are present in the air we breathe. Generally, the human body prevents these microorganisms from infecting the lungs. However, they can sometimes overpower the immune system, even if general health is good.

Depending on the type of agent that acts on the lungs infecting it, the type of pneumonia that a person suffers can be classified.

Bacterial pneumonia

The common cause of this bacterial lung infection worldwide is the Streptococcus pneumoniae. This type of pneumonia usually occurs on its own, or it can happen after you've had a cold or flu. It can affect one lobe of the lung, known as lobar pneumonia, or it can be both lungs. In this place fluid or pus accumulates that makes it almost impossible for oxygen to pass into the blood system.

Streptococcus pneumoniae often colonizes the throat and then moves down to the lungs. And usually, it is the bacteria that cause pneumonia in almost all age groupsexcept in newborns.

Pneumonia from bacteria-like organisms

He Mycoplasma pneumoniae, It can also cause pneumonia, but it usually produces milder symptoms. As it is not serious enough to require bed rest, the disease has been christened "Ambulatory pneumonia". However, it also requires treatment and care so that the person can recover.

Fungal pneumonia

Typically this type of pneumonia is common in people with weakened immune systems or chronic health problems.

The fungi that cause the infection can be found in the soil, in bird droppings or in mold on the walls.

Bilateral pneumonia

Some viruses that cause colds and flu can also cause a respiratory infection, known as bilateral pneumonia. This occurs when the virus or bacteria develop pathogens that inflame the lungs.

Often this type of pneumonia can be mild, but in some cases it becomes severe. The Covid-19 virus can cause a serious state of this disease.

Treatment of pneumonia

The way to treat pneumonia is using antibiotics, since it is an infectious disease. These antibiotics consist of chemicals produced by bacteria and fungi, which have the ability to prevent the growth or destroy other microorganisms.

Treatment is often started empirically, analyzing the most common and probably implicated germs. In the same way, the response of the patient is studied. That is, a treatment is started without determining the germ that has caused the infection.

The antibiotics used to fight pneumonia are beta-lactams (amoxicillin and amoxicillin / clavulanate, both at high doses) and penicillin. The choice of antibiotic treatment is made according to the severity of the case, and usually lasts from 7 to 10 days or 10 to 14 days. In severe cases, medical intervention is required to stabilize patients with fatal pneumonia.

Pneumonia vaccine

Pneumonia can be prevented, vaccines can help prevent pneumonia. In many countries of the world, two vaccines are produced that fulfill the special mission of preventing respiratory infections. Among them is pneumococcal.

PCV13: This pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria and those that cause pneumonia.

PPSV23: the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) protects against 13 types of bacteria that cause pneumonia.

Both are recommended for adults over 65 and adults over 19 with certain conditions.