Fact sheet: Pneumonia
Part A: Fact sheet definitions and reference list
Pneumonia is an acute respiratory infection which directly and severely affects the lungs. The condition of the lungs in Pneumonia is severe due to filling of pus and fluid in alveoli, which are small sacs which constitute the lung. When a person breathes, the alveoli sacs fill up with air. In case of pneumonia, due to the presence of pus and fluids in the lungs, it becomes painful and difficult for a patient to breathe.
Pneumonia has been known to have caused 16% of the deaths among children globally. It is not easily curable once it reaches a state of extreme severity. It is required that there be focus on understanding the symptoms in great detail in order to identify pneumonia in its early stages. This can help increase the chances of curing pneumonia to a great extent.
Pneumonia can be caused by viruses, bacteria and fungi. Each of these result in similar symptoms thus making it difficult to identify the nature of the pneumonia except for the fact that it is affecting lungs severely. It makes it important to ensure that antibiotics are given in case of bacterial infections leading to pneumonia.
Streptococcus pneumonia and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) are the most common bacteria causing bacterial infections leading to pneumonia. Pneumonia is one of the largest cause of deaths in children below 5 years. Pneumonia spreads very easily. It spreads to lungs when common virus and bacteria which are commonly found in children’s throat and nose are swallowed or inhaled.
Pneumonia may spread based on air borne infections where in droplets from sneeze or cough can infect others. In case of infants, it is possible that pneumonia spreads through blood transmission from the mother. Treatment of pneumonia and its prevention are extremely important. Antibiotics can help cure pneumonia in case of bacterial infections.
In case of pneumonia, most healthy children and adults can fight the infection on their on based on their immunity systems. But in case of malnourished or under nourished children, or in case of infants who are not breastfed or even in case of children whose immunity systems are compromised the chances of pneumonia are very high.
The following environmental factors also increase a child's susceptibility to pneumonia:
- indoor air pollution caused by cooking and heating with biomass fuels (such as wood or dung)
- living in crowded homes
- parental smoking.
Symptoms like excessive cold, rapid breathing, fever and inward movement of chest while breathing should not be ignored as this may indicate pneumonia. It is essential that doctors be consulted in case of cold or fever prolonging for more that 3 to 4 days. Medical tests and pathology reports become essential in such conditions to be able to identify the cause and type of infection.
The symptoms of bacterial and viral pneumonia infections are very similar and pathological tests become essential in order to identify the nature of pneumonia. Only based on these tests, accurate medication becomes possible. It is required that doctors prescribe medical tests in case of fever more than 3 to 4 days and common cold not subsiding even after 5 to 6 days.
Under normal circumstances, a common cold or fever, when ignored or not treated on time can become severe and result in dire conditions of pneumonia. In case of infants pre conditions like HIV and measles can also increase the chances of pneumonia to a large extent.
The effects of pneumonia can be severe and can also lead to death. In case of pneumonia, immediate treatment based on antibiotics becomes essential. It is also required that there is effective detection of the disease and immediate and effective treatment for pneumonia. In case of pneumonia immediate treatment can help reduce the chances of severances’ and death in most patients.
Pneumonia can be prevented by immunization, adequate nutrition, and by addressing environmental factors. Pneumonia can also be cured using antibiotics. It becomes extremely important that there be treatment provided to patients suffering from pneumonia in order to help them survive in conditions of painful and difficult breathing.
Prevention of pneumonia can help patients to a great extent. Awareness becomes essential in order to prevent pneumonia. It is required that we do not take common cold and fever in children lightly. It is important to keep a tab of symptoms and also ensure that a doctor is consulted in case of prolonged cold or fever.
- Pneumonia: Pneumonia is a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs. The lungs are made up of small sacs called alveoli, which fill with air when a healthy person breathes. When an individual has pneumonia, the alveoli are filled with pus and fluid, which makes breathing painful and limits oxygen intake.
- Alveoli: The lungs are made up of small sacs called alveoli, which fill with air when a healthy person breathes.
- Air borne: Carried or transported by air
- Antibiotics: a medicine (such as penicillin or its derivatives) that inhibits the growth of or destroys microorganisms
- Immunity: the ability of an organism to resist a particular infection or toxin by the action of specific antibodies or sensitized white blood cells or resistance to, resilience to, non-susceptibility to, lack of susceptibility to, protection from, ability to fight off, ability to withstand, ability to counteract, defenses against