Pneumonia is an acute illness, and is considered one of the global health’s most solvable problems. It is the inflammation of one or more parts of the lungs, where the air sacs (alveoli) become inflamed, congested and fill with fluids. Pneumonia reduces oxygen exchange in lungs, thus leading to cough, breathlessness or painful breath.
With pneumonia, only the upper respiratory tract gets infected, and the remainder is left unaffected. Inspite of not being a common occurence, pneumococcal disease is a very serious illness. Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia is the most common nosocomial infection in the ICU.
Causes
Pneumonia may be caused by bacteria, viral, fungi, parasite infections and non-infectious agents. It is caused by inhaling these germs into the lungs. These germs settle in the lungs, enabling pneumonia to contract
Pneumonia is most likely to infect a person if the person is suffering from cold or flu. This infection is difficult for the body to ward off.
1. The most severe cases of pneumonia are caused by bacteria, especially S. pneumonia and H. influenza.
2. The most common type of viral pneumonia is Syncytial virus.
3. The most common cause of pneumonia in children is Pneumocystic jiroveci.
Types
1. Bacterial – It infects more suddenly, usually after a cold or flu.
2. Non-Bacterial – It infects slowly, and the patient may not feel sick at the onset.
Transmission
Pneumonia spreads by a number of ways, most commonly by coughing, sneezing, physical contact, blood, etc. Its virus and bacteria are commonly found in nose and throat, thus affecting lungs easily on inhalation.
Symptoms
1. High fever/chills
2. Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
3. Cough
4. Chest pains
5. Rapid increase in heart rate

Other symptoms
1. Nausea
2. Headache and vomiting
3. Tiredness and muscle aches

Prognosis
Pneumonia can be a fatal disease, but most patients recover from it. People of all age-groups are vulnerable to it. Those who are at a greater risk are:
1. Elders (>65 years of age)
2. Young children
3. People with lung diseases, HIV/AIDS, other chronic diseases
4. Nursing home visitors
5. Patients recovering from surgery
6. Pregnant women
7. Hospital patients

Interesting Facts

  • Major types of pneumococcal disease are: Pneumonia (Lung disease), bacteremia (blood infections), meningitis (infection of brain and spinal cord).
  • Pneumonia kills more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
  • It kills more than other lung-affecting conditions, and is the primary cause of death in children.
  • Nearly 28% of all deaths are attributed to acute respiratory infections.
  • Pnemonococcal bacteria are transmitted via respiratory droplets.
  • Humans are reservoirs of these bacteria; insects and animals are not known carriers.
  • Pneumonia kills more children at the age of five than any other diseases, calming a young life every 20 seconds.
  • Children below 2 to 5 years are at risk in poorest communities.
  • Breastfeeding during the first 6 months of life can help prevent pneumonia and many other diseases.

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