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Pneumonia Disease : The Symptoms, Risk Factor, And Possible Treatments
pneumonia disease symptoms risk factor possible treatments

    Pneumonia Disease : The Symptoms, Risk Factor, And Possible Treatments

Saturday, December 3,2016

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs most often caused by a virus or bacterium.

The infection affects more precisely the pulmonary alveoli, these tiny balloon-shaped sacs located at the tip of the bronchioles . It usually affects only one of the 5 lobes of the lung (3 lobes in the right lung and 2 in the left), hence the term lobar pneumonia. When pneumonia also reaches the bronchi, it is called bronchopneumonia.

Pneumonia, in fact, means very different infections that can be life-threatening . Thus, if pneumonia appears as a complication of a serious illness or in an elderly person, it can be fatal. In very rare cases, pneumonia can also be fatal in a healthy person.

The disease usually manifests itself in a cough often accompanied by sputum, shortness of breath, fever and chills. Pneumonia usually catches itself as a flu or a cold, by inhaling contaminated particles. In some cases, it occurs after another respiratory infection, such as a flu or bronchitis, which “degenerates” and settles in the alveoli of the lungs. Some of the symptoms may last several weeks. It is usually not contagious.


Almost all pneumonia is caused by a virus or bacterium. When the microbe attacks the lungs, the body reacts by triggering an inflammatory reaction. The alveoli are filled with pus and inflammatory fluid, which causes difficulty breathing.

The physician must distinguish between two modes of contraction of pneumonia: contraction in hospital (nosocomial pneumonia) and contraction outside the hospital (community or community acquired pneumonia). Nosocomial pneumonia is generally more dangerous because it occurs in people impaired by another disease. At the hospital, pneumonia is often transmitted by mechanical ventilation devices (intubation) to intensive care units.

The exact type of bacteria or virus responsible for pneumonia in a given patient is only known in half of the cases, partly because laboratory techniques are not performing well. For information, here are the ones that are most frequently found in people with pneumonia.

Bacteria. Bacterial infections usually cause typical pneumonia (see Symptoms section). Most of the time, Haemophilus influenzae, Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pneumoniae (causing pneumococcal pneumonia) bacteria are responsible.

Atypical pneumonia manifests itself in symptoms that may be less pronounced than typical pneumonia. For example, some people with pneumonia have no fever or chest pain. Pneumonia resembles a respiratory infection, such as bronchitis, sinusitis or influenza (influenza). Among the bacteria that cause atypical pneumonia are Mycoplasma pneumoniae (causing mycoplasma pneumonia), Chlamydia pneumoniae and Legionella pneumophila (responsible for Legionnaires’ disease).

Virus. The most frequent are influenza and parainfluenza viruses, respiratory syncytial virus, cold viruses (rhinoviruses), herpes-like viruses or even SARS. The influenza virus, that is to say the influenza virus, sometimes affects the pulmonary alveoli and thus causes viral pneumonia. Subsequently, the respiratory system weakened by the viral infection can open the door to a potentially more serious bacterial superinfection.


According to the Quebec Lung Association, between 200 000 and 300 000 Canadians have pneumonia each year and the mortality rate can reach 30% in certain populations (elderly, hospitalized, etc.). Pneumonia acquired in hospital affects between 0.5% and 1% of inpatients, but up to 40% of patients under mechanical ventilation in the intensive care unit.


The doctor evaluates the symptoms, asks about family history and ausculates the lungs. He may administer a radiological examination of the lungs and ask for an analysis of the pulmonary secretions (expelled by coughing). If necessary, it will use other tests, such as the search for bacteria in the blood.


Pneumonia is cured most of the time in 2 weeks or a little more. However, more time is often needed before recovering completely.

Although they are rare, some serious complications are possible.

Pleural effusion. It is the accumulation of inflammatory fluid between the two layers of the pleura, which causes a compression of the lung. If there is a lot of liquid, it should be removed by suction. Exceptionally, this fluid may persist and become purulent. Surgery is often necessary.
An abscess in the lung.

Respiratory distress. When pneumonia affects both lungs, breathing becomes extremely difficult. Assisted ventilation is often necessary.

A septic shock, that is to say a generalized infection of the body due to the passage of the bacteria from the lungs to the blood. This occurs mainly with pneumococcal pneumonia.

With antibiotics, pneumonia causes fewer deaths than before. Nevertheless, both pneumonia and influenza (influenza) are the leading cause of death from an infectious disease in Canada. Very old people with a lower immune system and people with other serious illnesses are more likely to succumb to it.

Symptoms of pneumonia

Pneumonia, typical

A sudden rise in fever up to 41 ºC (106 ºF) and severe chills.

Short breath, rapid breathing and pulse.
A cough. At first the cough is dry. After a few days, it becomes greasy and is accompanied by yellowish or greenish secretions, sometimes streaked with blood.
Thoracic pain that intensifies during coughing and deep breathing.
Degradation of the general state (fatigue, loss of appetite).
Muscular pains.
Some signs of severity must lead to immediate hospitalization.

Altered consciousness.

Pulse too fast (greater than 120 beats per minute) or respiratory rate greater than 30 breaths per minute.
Temperature above 40 ° C (104 ° F) or below 35 ° C (95 ° F).
Atypical pneumonia

Atypical pneumonia is more misleading because its symptoms are less specific. They can be manifested by headaches, digestive disorders or joint pain. Coughing is present in 80% of cases, but in only 60% of cases in the elderly.

People at risk and risk factors for pneumonia (pulmonary infection)

People at Risk

The children. The risk increases more for those who are exposed to second-hand smoke.
Seniors, especially if they live in nursing homes.
People with chronic respiratory disease (asthma, emphysema, COPD, bronchitis, cystic fibrosis).
People with a chronic disease that weakens the immune system, such as HIV / AIDS, cancer, or diabetes.
People who receive immunosuppressive therapy or corticosteroids are also at risk of opportunistic pneumonia.
People who have just had a respiratory infection, such as the flu.

Inpatients, especially in an intensive care unit.
Persons exposed to toxic chemicals in the course of their work (for example, varnishes or paint thinners), bird breeders, workers engaged in the manufacture or processing of wool, malt and cheese.
Aboriginal populations in Canada and Alaska are at increased risk of pneumococcal pneumonia.

Risk factors

Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke
Alcohol abuse
Drug use
Unhealthy and overcrowded housing

Prevention of pneumonia

Basic Preventive Measures

Have a healthy lifestyle (sleep, eating, physical exercise, etc.), especially during the winter. See our Strengthening our immune system for more information.

No smoking helps prevent pneumonia. Smoke makes the airways more vulnerable to infections. Children are particularly sensitive.
Wash hands regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based solution. The hands are constantly in contact with microbes that can cause all kinds of infections, including pneumonia. These come into the body when you rub your eyes or nose and when you put your hands to your mouth.

When taking antibiotics to treat an infection, it is important to follow the treatment from the beginning to the end.
Observe the hygiene measures displayed in clinics and hospitals such as washing hands or wearing a mask if necessary.

Other measures to prevent the onset of the disease

Vaccine against influenza. The influenza virus can cause pneumonia directly or indirectly. Thus, the influenza vaccine reduces the risk of pneumonia. It must be renewed every year.

Specific vaccines. Pneumococcal vaccine protects against pneumonia with Streptococcus pneumoniae, the most common in adults (it combats 23 serotypes of pneumococci). This vaccine (Pneumovax®, Pneumo® and Pnu-Immune®) is most suitable for adults with diabetes or COPD, people with weakened immune systems, and those aged 65 years and older. Its effectiveness has been convincingly demonstrated in seniors residing in long-term care facilities.

Prevenar® vaccine offers good protection against meningitis in young children, and a slight protection against ear infections and pneumococcal pneumonia. The Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization advocates its systematic administration for all children 23 months of age or younger to prevent meningitis. Older children (24 months to 59 months) may also be vaccinated if they are at high risk of infection. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends this vaccination.

In Canada, systematic vaccination against Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) is recommended for all infants at the age of 2 months. Three conjugate vaccines are registered in Canada: HbOC, PRP-T and PRP-OMP. The number of doses varies according to the age at the first dose.

Measures to Promote Healing and Prevent Aggravation

First of all, it is important to respect a period of rest.
Throughout the course of the illness, avoid exposure to smoke, cold air and air pollutants as much as possible.

Measures to prevent complications

If the symptoms of pneumonia persist with the same intensity 3 days after the start of an antibiotic treatment, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

Medical treatments for pneumonia

Treatment depends mainly on the cause of pneumonia (bacteria, virus, fungus …). In order to choose the appropriate treatment, the physician also relies on age, health status and a physical examination of the person and, if necessary, on various complementary analyzes.

Treatment at home

Bacterial pneumonia. In healthy individuals, most acquired pneumonia in the community is treated with a macrolide antibiotic (erythromycin, clarithromycin, azithromycin). There is usually no reason to go to the hospital.

The bacteria responsible for pneumonia are increasingly resistant to antibiotics. The phenomenon is particularly worrying in the case of pneumonia acquired at the hospital. If the antibiotic does not appear to take effect after a few days, it may be necessary to change the antibiotic. To avoid contributing to resistance, it is important to take your treatment to the end, as prescribed by the doctor.

Viral pneumonia. Most of the time, viral pneumonias heal without treatment. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses. In some cases, antiviral drugs may be used, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) or zanamivir (Relenza®). If needed, other medications will help relieve chest pain and lower fever (paracetamol, also called acetaminophen, and more rarely Ibuprofen in Quebec).

As for the cough, it should not be eliminated completely because it helps to expel the secretions that clutter the bronchi. Cough syrups are generally discouraged by doctors. To relieve coughs and sore throats, natural solutions, such as drinking hot water in which a little honey is added, are preferable.

Respiratory physiotherapy. This technique, especially used in people with chronic respiratory disease, can help to de-clutter the airways. In Quebec, respiratory therapists teach patients. Percussion movements are performed on the back of the patient, which triggers the cough and evacuates the secretions. The person should be lying on the stomach, the upper body tilted down. Respiratory physiotherapy seems to help shorten healing time and prevent complications.

Followed. A visit to the doctor 4 to 6 weeks after diagnosis and a chest x-ray will ensure that pneumonia is well cured. If it does not heal within the usual time frame, the doctor will recommend appropriate investigation, such as a CT scan or bronchoscopy. Persistent pneumonia can be caused by a tumor in a bronchus.

Treatment in hospital

When pneumonia is severe or the risk of complications is high, hospitalization may be necessary. Drugs can then be administered intravenously or oxygen may be supplied if blood oxygen levels are found to be too low. Most people hospitalized for pneumonia are babies, young children, the elderly, or impaired and chronically ill.
For better comfort

The seating position is the most comfortable. Horizontal breathing is more laborious. At night, opt for a slightly inclined position. Raise the back with pillows.
Applying a warm, moist compress on the chest helps relieve chest pain.
Well hydrate.
In the early stages of the disease, avoid exposing yourself to cold air.
Stop demanding physical activities. Recover them gradually, according to capacities.
Do not take cough syrup without asking the doctor. Some over-the-counter syrups may prevent mucus evacuation and worsen the situation.

Published On

Saturday, December 3,2016-15:29:22[London]


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