Pneumonia is a serious infection that affects one or both lungs. Our lungs consist of sacs called alveoli, which get filled with air when a healthy person breathes. But, in a person suffering from pneumonia, these get filled with pus and other fluids, which makes it difficult to breathe. Pneumonia is caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungi, and is associated with symptoms such as fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing.
Symptoms For Pneumonia
Whatever may be the pathogen, pneumonia caused either by a virus or bacteria, exhibits similar symptoms. However, viral pneumonia has more symptoms than bacterial pneumonia. One thing that should be noted is that the severity of pneumonia symptoms varies from person to person. Some have symptoms that are so mild that they are hardly visible, while some develop such serious symptoms, which require hospitalisation. Following are some of the signs, and symptoms associated with pneumonia.
- Cough, with yellowy-green, or even bloody mucus
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid, and shallow breaths
- Wheezing, i.e. high-pitched whistling sound while breathing
- Chest pain, especially while breathing
- Muscle pain
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of energy
- Blue lips and fingernails
- Confusion, and even delirium in the elderly
Types Of Pneumonia
As we saw, pneumonia is caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Here are the primary types of pneumonia:
- This is caused by viruses such as the flu virus, coronavirus, etc.
- Viral pneumonia constitutes 1/3rd of all pneumonia cases.
- This is caused by bacterias, the most common being Streptococcus pneumoniae.
- This generally enters the lungs, when the body is weakened due to age, poor nutrition, a medical condition, or compromised immunity.
- This is caused by the bacteria Mycoplasma pneumoniae.
- Mycoplasma pneumonia is often called atypical pneumonia as it exhibits different signs and symptoms.
- It affects all age groups and generally causes mild pneumonia that spreads wide.
- There are other, less common kinds of pneumonia.
- They are caused by fungi and other pathogens.
Risk Factors of Pneumonia
Although pneumonia can affect people across age groups, there are people who are at a greater risk of developing pneumonia than others:
- Adults of age 65 and above
- Kids under the age of 2
- Immunocompromised people are at a greater risk of developing pneumonia.
- Those suffering from chronic lung disease
- Serious illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.
- People who smoke heavily
Complications Caused By Pneumonia
Although most pneumonia patients respond well to the treatment, those in the high-risk group are at risk of developing complications, such as:
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is an extreme kind of respiratory system failure.
- Lung abscesses in which pus gets filled inside or outside the lungs.
- Respiratory failure
- Sepsis, in which the infection enters the bloodstream, thus increasing the risk of organ failure.
Treatment For Pneumonia
Once you are diagnosed with pneumonia, treatment begins, which depends on the cause, your age, medical condition, and the severity of the infection. The aim of the treatment is to both cure the infection, as well as prevent complications, hence follow it carefully.
- In the case of bacterial pneumonia, it is generally treated with antibiotics, such as amoxicillin dispersible tablets, as per the World Health Organisation.
- Antibiotics are also given in case of mycoplasma pneumonia.
- Similarly, for viral pneumonia, an antiviral might be prescribed.
- Hospitalisation is only required in case of serious infection.
Tips To Manage Pneumonia Symptoms
As we saw that hospitalisation is needed only in the case of severe pneumonia. Others can manage their symptoms at home. Here are some tips:
- Your doctor might prescribe certain medicine for fever.
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids.
- Drink warm beverages such as green tea, chai, or kadha.
- In case of cough, do not take medicines by yourself, and consult your doctor. This is because by coughing your body tries to get rid of the pathogen. If coughing is making you miserable, consult your doctor.
- Use a humidifier to ease breathing. If it doesn’t improve over time, consult your doctor.
- Avoid smoking, and give your lungs the time to heal. Not just cigarettes, try to protect yourself from second-hand smoke, and wood smoke too.
- Get enough rest. It is better to seek help with the daily chores. A good idea is to divide them up among family members.
Tips To Prevent Yourself From Getting Pneumonia
It is possible to protect yourself from this disease. Here are the tips you must follow:
- Wash your hands several times with soap, and use sanitiser.
- Smoking damages your lungs and weakens your ability to fight infections. In fact, smoking is a risk factor for pneumonia. The ideal thing is to quit smoking altogether. However, if it seems difficult to you, do away with it gradually.
- Just like smoking, indoor pollution also damages the lungs. Hence, opt for cleaner fuel.
- A healthy diet and enough physical exercise boost the body’s immune system, helping it to guard against infections.
- Pay ample attention to your personal hygiene.
- Other than these, you must pay attention to the symptoms, and if you experience any signs associated with pneumonia, consult your doctor right away.
Foods During Pneumonia
Pneumonia is a disease whose severity ranges from mild infections to severe, which requires hospitalisation. However, having a well-balanced nutritious diet, in any case, helps with easing the symptoms, and for quicker recovery. Here are some foods you must include in your diet when suffering from pneumonia:
Citrus fruits such as orange, kiwi, and berries are packed with antioxidants, and vitamin C, which boost the immune system leading to quicker recovery.
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, and kale contain antioxidants in large amounts. They also contain essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, C, and potassium, which are good in case of respiratory illnesses, such as pneumonia.
Whole grains such as wheat, ragi, bajra, buckwheat, etc are rich in carbohydrates, the macronutrient that provides energy. Since weakness and fatigue are among the symptoms of pneumonia, you must include whole grains in your diet while suffering from the infection.
Just like there are foods that ease symptoms, and aid quick recovery, there are those that worsen the infection, hence should be avoided. Here are the foods you should avoid while suffering from pneumonia:
- Cold foods such as ice cream, and cold beverages.
- Fried foods
- Processed foods
- Limit your salt intake