What is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung affecting primarily the small air sacs known as alveoli. Typically, symptoms include some combination of productive or dry cough, chest pain, fever, and difficulty breathing. The severity of the condition is variable.
Pneumonia is usually caused by infection with viruses or bacteria and less commonly by other microorganisms, certain medications, or conditions such as autoimmune diseases. Risk factors include cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, diabetes, heart failure, a history of smoking, a poor ability to cough such as following a stroke, and a weak immune system. Diagnosis is often based on the symptoms and physical examination. Chest X-rays, blood tests, and culture of the sputum may help confirm the diagnosis. The disease may be classified by where it was acquired, such as community- or hospital-acquired or healthcare-associated pneumonia.
Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus (purulent material), causing cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing. A variety of organisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, can cause pneumonia.
Pneumonia can range in seriousness from mild to life-threatening. It is most serious for infants and young children, people older than age 65, and people with health problems or weakened immune systems.
- Pneumonia accounts for 15% of all deaths of children under 5 years old, killing 808 694 children in 2017.
- Pneumonia can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi.
- Pneumonia can be prevented by immunization, adequate nutrition, and by addressing environmental factors.
- Pneumonia caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotics, but only one-third of children with pneumonia receive the antibiotics they need.
Pneumonia is the single largest infectious cause of death in children worldwide. Pneumonia killed 808 694 children under the age of 5 in 2017, accounting for 15% of all deaths of children under five years old. Pneumonia affects children and families everywhere but is most prevalent in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Children can be protected from pneumonia, it can be prevented with simple interventions, and treated with low-cost, low-tech medication and care.
In 2017, there were around 20 deaths from influenza and pneumonia per 100,000 population, a slight increase from previous years. Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is a highly contagious viral infection and a frequent cause of pneumonia. Pneumonia is a more serious infection of the lungs and is particularly deadly among young children, the elderly, and those with certain chronic conditions.
The following are statistics from various sources about Pneumonia:
- 90,000 people die annually from pneumonia (USA)
Pneumonia can be spread in a number of ways. The viruses and bacteria that are commonly found in a child’s nose or throat, can infect the lungs if they are inhaled. They may also spread via air-borne droplets from a cough or sneeze. In addition, pneumonia may spread through blood, especially during and shortly after birth. More research needs to be done on the different pathogens causing pneumonia and the ways they are transmitted, as this is of critical importance for treatment and prevention.
Symptoms of Pneumonia
Your symptoms can vary depending on what’s causing your pneumonia, your age, and your overall health. They usually develop over several days.
Common pneumonia symptoms include:
- Chest pain when you breathe or cough
- Cough that produces phlegm or mucus
- Fatigue and loss of appetite
- Fever, sweating, and chills
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Shortness of breath
Along with these symptoms, older adults and people with weak immune systems might be confused or have changes in mental awareness, or they might have a lower-than-normal body temperature.
Newborns and infants may not show any signs of infection. Or they might vomit, have a fever and a cough, and seem restless or tired.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you have difficulty breathing, chest pain, persistent fever of 102 F (39 C) or higher, or persistent cough, especially if you’re coughing up the pus.
It’s especially important that people in these high-risk groups see a doctor:
- Adults older than age 65
- Children younger than age 2 with signs and symptoms
- People with an underlying health condition or weakened immune system
- People receiving chemotherapy or taking medication that suppresses the immune system
For some older adults and people with heart failure or chronic lung problems, pneumonia can quickly become a life-threatening condition.
Where Pneumonia can be Acquired
Community-acquired pneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia. It occurs outside of hospitals or other health care facilities. It may be caused by:
- Bacteria. The most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in the U.S. is Streptococcus pneumoniae. This type of pneumonia can occur on its own or after you’ve had a cold or the flu. It may affect one part (lobe) of the lung, a condition called lobar pneumonia.
- Bacteria-like organisms. Mycoplasma pneumoniae also can cause pneumonia. It typically produces milder symptoms than do other types of pneumonia. Walking pneumonia is an informal name given to this type of pneumonia, which typically isn’t severe enough to require bed rest.
- Fungi. This type of pneumonia is most common in people with chronic health problems or weakened immune systems, and in people who have inhaled large doses of the organisms. The fungi that cause it can be found in soil or bird droppings and vary depending upon geographic location.
- Viruses. Some of the viruses that cause colds and the flu can cause pneumonia. Viruses are the most common cause of pneumonia in children younger than 5 years. Viral pneumonia is usually mild. But in some cases, it can become very serious.
Some people catch pneumonia during a hospital stay for another illness. Hospital-acquired pneumonia can be serious because the bacteria causing it may be more resistant to antibiotics and because the people who get it are already sick. People who are on breathing machines (ventilators), often used in intensive care units, are at higher risk of this type of pneumonia.
Health care-acquired pneumonia
Health care-acquired pneumonia is a bacterial infection that occurs in people who live in long-term care facilities or who receive care in outpatient clinics, including kidney dialysis centers. Like hospital-acquired pneumonia, healthcare-acquired pneumonia can be caused by bacteria that are more resistant to antibiotics.
Aspiration pneumonia occurs when you inhale food, drink, vomit, or saliva into your lungs. Aspiration is more likely if something disturbs your normal gag reflex, such as a brain injury or swallowing problem, or excessive use of alcohol or drugs.
Pneumonia can affect anyone. But the two age groups at highest risk are:
- Children who are 2 years old or younger
- People who are age 65 or older
Other risk factors include:
- Being hospitalized. You’re at greater risk of pneumonia if you’re in a hospital intensive care unit, especially if you’re on a machine that helps you breathe (a ventilator).
- Chronic disease. You’re more likely to get pneumonia if you have asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or heart disease.
- Smoking. Smoking damages your body’s natural defenses against the bacteria and viruses that cause pneumonia.
- Weakened or suppressed immune system. People who have HIV/AIDS, who’ve had an organ transplant, or who receive chemotherapy or long-term steroids are at risk.
Even with treatment, some people with pneumonia, especially those in high-risk groups, may experience complications, including:
- Bacteria in the bloodstream (bacteremia). Bacteria that enter the bloodstream from your lungs can spread the infection to other organs, potentially causing organ failure.
- Difficulty breathing. If your pneumonia is severe or you have chronic underlying lung diseases, you may have trouble breathing in enough oxygen. You may need to be hospitalized and use a breathing machine (ventilator) while your lung heals.
- Fluid accumulation around the lungs (pleural effusion). Pneumonia may cause fluid to build up in the thin space between layers of tissue that line the lungs and chest cavity (pleura). If the fluid becomes infected, you may need to have it drained through a chest tube or removed with surgery.
- Lung abscess. An abscess occurs if pus forms in a cavity in the lung. An abscess is usually treated with antibiotics. Sometimes, surgery or drainage with a long needle or tube placed into the abscess is needed to remove the pus.
Causes of Pneumonia
Bacteria, viruses, or fungi can lead to pneumonia.
Top causes include:
- Flu viruses
- Cold viruses
- RSV virus (the top cause of pneumonia in babies age 1 or younger)
- Bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pneumoniae
To help prevent pneumonia:
- Get vaccinated. Vaccines are available to prevent some types of pneumonia and the flu. Talk with your doctor about getting these shots. The vaccination guidelines have changed over time so make sure to review your vaccination status with your doctor even if you recall previously receiving a pneumonia vaccine.
- Make sure children get vaccinated. Doctors recommend a different pneumonia vaccine for children younger than age 2 and for children ages 2 to 5 years who are at particular risk of pneumococcal disease. Children who attend a group child care center should also get the vaccine. Doctors also recommend flu shots for children older than 6 months.
- Practice good hygiene. To protect yourself against respiratory infections that sometimes lead to pneumonia, wash your hands regularly, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizes.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking damages your lungs’ natural defenses against respiratory infections.
- Keep your immune system strong. Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and eat a healthy diet.
Chest X-ray showing pneumonia
Your doctor will start by asking about your medical history and doing a physical exam, including listening to your lungs with a stethoscope to check for abnormal bubbling or crackling sounds that suggest pneumonia.
If pneumonia is suspected, your doctor may recommend the following tests:
- Blood tests. Blood tests are used to confirm an infection and to try to identify the type of organism causing the infection. However, precise identification isn’t always possible.
- Chest X-ray. This helps your doctor diagnose pneumonia and determine the extent and location of the infection. However, it can’t tell your doctor what kind of germ is causing pneumonia.
- Pulse oximetry. This measures the oxygen level in your blood. Pneumonia can prevent your lungs from moving enough oxygen into your bloodstream.
- Sputum test. A sample of fluid from your lungs (sputum) is taken after a deep cough and analyzed to help pinpoint the cause of the infection.
Your doctor might order additional tests if you’re older than age 65, are in the hospital, or have serious symptoms or health conditions. These may include:
- CT scan. If your pneumonia isn’t clearing as quickly as expected, your doctor may recommend a chest CT scan to obtain a more detailed image of your lungs.
- Pleural fluid culture. A fluid sample is taken by putting a needle between your ribs from the pleural area and analyzed to help determine the type of infection.
Treatment for pneumonia involves curing the infection and preventing complications. People who have community-acquired pneumonia usually can be treated at home with medication. Although most symptoms ease in a few days or weeks, the feeling of tiredness can persist for a month or more.
Specific treatments depend on the type and severity of your pneumonia, your age, and your overall health. The options include:
- Antibiotics. These medicines are used to treat bacterial pneumonia. It may take time to identify the type of bacteria causing your pneumonia and to choose the best antibiotic to treat it. If your symptoms don’t improve, your doctor may recommend a different antibiotic.
- Cough medicine. This medicine may be used to calm your cough so that you can rest. Because coughing helps loosen and move fluid from your lungs, it’s a good idea not to eliminate your cough completely. In addition, you should know that very few studies have looked at whether over-the-counter cough medicines lessen coughing caused by pneumonia. If you want to try a cough suppressant, use the lowest dose that helps you rest.
- Fever reducers/pain relievers. You may take these as needed for fever and discomfort. These include drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).
You may need to be hospitalized if:
- You are older than age 65
- You are confused about time, people, or places
- Your kidney function has declined
- Your systolic blood pressure is below 90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or your diastolic blood pressure is 60 mm Hg or below
- Your breathing is rapid (30 breaths or more a minute)
- You need breathing assistance
- Your temperature is below normal
- Your heart rate is below 50 or above 100
You may be admitted to the intensive care unit if you need to be placed on a breathing machine (ventilator) or if your symptoms are severe.
Children may be hospitalized if:
- They are younger than age 2 months
- They are lethargic or excessively sleepy
- They have trouble breathing
- They have low blood oxygen levels
- They appear dehydrated
Lifestyle and home remedies
These tips can help you recover more quickly and decrease your risk of complications:
- Get plenty of rest. Don’t go back to school or work until after your temperature returns to normal and you stop coughing up mucus. Even when you start to feel better, be careful not to overdo it. Because pneumonia can recur, it’s better not to jump back into your routine until you are fully recovered. Ask your doctor if you’re not sure.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to help loosen mucus in your lungs.
- Take your medicine as prescribed. Take the entire course of any medications your doctor prescribed for you. If you stop taking medication too soon, your lungs may continue to harbor bacteria that can multiply and cause your pneumonia to recur.
PLEASE ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST!!!
11 Home Remedies for Pneumonia
Pleurisy root is really a favorite herbal remedy utilized in fighting pneumonia since it will help reduce inflammation of the pleural membranes in the lungs, enhances secretion of healthful lung fluids, and is really a lymphatic system stimulant. Pleurisy root has been utilized to take care of many different illnesses, including pleurisy, pneumonia, bronchitis, influenza, and chronic coughing.
With this herb, it is recommended that you mix the skullcap, which is often acquired in Chinese herb shops, together with several other antibiotic herbs such as barberry, goldenseal, Oregon grape, and yellow root. However, always keep in mind that pneumonia is a possibly life-threatening disease and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Everyone should pay their primary health care provider a visit to ascertain whether herbal treatments make sense as either an alternative or complementary therapy in their overall pneumonia treatment.
Among garlic’s added advantages as an antibiotic is its selectivity. Garlic appears to focus on bad germs without also killing the good bacteria which are required for the human body to work correctly. This works better than most prescription antibiotics that blindly kill good and bad bacteria. Talk with a health practitioner before pursuing this path.
Turmeric has a few medicinal properties and is extensively used in treating a host of ailments. Additionally, it aids against pneumonia. Other herbs like fenugreek, black pepper, and ginger will also be advantageous for your lungs when used together with turmeric. It’s possible for you to consume these either cooked or uncooked, your choice.
Ginger is really a well-known remedy for treating the majority of respiratory diseases.
6) Holy Basil
Holy basil is likewise quite helpful with pneumonia. Add a bit of ground black pepper to a tea or juice from this herb and take it at six hourly intervals.
7) Remove Animal Proteins
Remove excessive quantities of animal protein from your daily diet. Excessive quantities of animal protein might be hard in your digestive tract, particularly should you be ill. When you’re sick, it’s important to keep yourself in a good routine (in the bathroom) and allow whole foods to work fast so that your body is able to consume their nutrients and fight the disease. A wholesome quantity of protein is found in vegetables like artichokes, beets, spinach, cauliflower, peas, eggplant, and potatoes.
8) Drink a Potassium Broth
Have some broth with your lunch. Creating a potassium broth is straightforward. It may be accomplished by juicing 4 cloves of garlic, 2 radishes, 2 big carrots, 2 stalks of celery plus a couple of pinches of parsley. It’s significant to have the maximum amount of potassium as you possibly can throughout a spell with pneumonia. Potassium helps repair damaged tissue within the lungs. When you’ve got a heart illness don’t drink a potassium broth; potassium in excessive amounts could be dangerous with such a condition.
9) Drink Some Carrot Juice
Drink a 12-oz glass of carrot juice with dinner. Add 1 tablespoon of pepper to make it more effective. Carrot juice can help the lungs greatly, and add anti-oxidants to your body’s damaged tissue. Carrot juice, in addition to being an excellent generator of vitamin A, can be rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamin B-complex. Cayenne pepper will raise the efficacy of the carrot juice.
Based on the Mayo Clinic, Vitamin C may play a part in the prevention of pneumonia. However, additional research is required to validate available study results.
11) Drink Water
Drink ample water. It’s normally advised to drink eight 8-oz. glasses daily to support a wholesome hydration level. When dealing with pneumonia, patients should attempt to drink between 8 to 10 eight-ounce glasses at a minimum.
Astragalus also is known as Huang Quai and milk vetch is a herb that is used for several medicinal purposes. Astragalus has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties that help to boost the proper functioning of the lungs and prevents the occurrence of various disorders like pneumonia and bronchitis. It is available in capsule, tincture, and liquid form. You can even make a tea out of this herb, just steep 2 teaspoons of this dried herb in boiling water. Then strain the water and drink it three times a day.
Pneumonia can be treated well with fenugreek tea. When pneumonia is in the early stage, tea made out of fenugreek seeds helps the body to perspire, dispel toxicity, and reduce fever due to pneumonia. A pneumonia patient should take this tea four times a day. You can reduce the quantity once you feel the difference in your condition. Infuse 15 grams of fenugreek seeds in 250 ml of water. Add a few drops of lemon to flavor the tea.
Tea tree oil has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that say goodbye to pneumonia. Washcloth with tea tree oil and hot water. Add 4 drops of this tea tree oil to the wash cycle to destroy infectious organisms. Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan and then remove from the heat. Add 6 drops of tea tree oil. Place a towel over your head and breathe in the steam to get rid of pneumonia symptoms.
Olive leaf has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that help to fight off lung infections. Oleuropein is one of the active ingredients present in an olive leaf that helps to treat pneumonia. Other important compounds present in the olive leaf are Verbascoside, Caffeic acid, 4-0-glucoside, 7-0-glucoside, and Luteolin. Thanks to such important constituents that help to attack the organisms that cause fungal and bacterial infections. Just steep olive leaf in boiling water and drink it when it cools down.
Basil is an excellent herb that has anti-inflammatory properties that help to treat pneumonia. It is truly suggested taking beverages extracted from 7 to 8 basil leaves merged with black pepper to combat pneumonia. This decoction helps to soothe pneumonia symptoms. Take this infusion every 5 hours for the desired result. Apart from the above, Berries, garlic, sage, mullein, peppermint, apple cider vinegar, and cranberry juice also helps to treat pneumonia.
Diet for Pneumonia
There is no specific pneumonia diet as there are no real dietary causes or foods that help cure pneumonia. Your diet is important, however, as it does have a direct effect on your general health and the functioning of your immune system. Following a healthy diet is important as this will help to boost your immunity, better enabling your body to fight off the infection naturally.
- Include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet to get a blend of essential nutrients and also include some amount of protein-rich foods like fish or lean meats like chicken. Any meat product should be consumed in moderation, however.
- It may be a good idea to consume a lot of fresh vegetable juices, like parsnip, cucumber, or beet. Your fluid intake should be increased to prevent the risk of dehydration.
- Cut down on your intake of sugar and any sugar-rich foods, carbonated, caffeinated, and alcoholic drinks.
- Instead of using sugar to sweeten any drinks or foods, try to use honey as honey is known to antibacterial properties.
Pneumonia diet is as important as medicines to treat this debilitating disease.
To avoid complications and enhance the healing process, consuming an adequate amount of calories and nutrients is valuable in treating pneumonia.
A healthy pneumonia diet is one that comprises proteins, carbohydrates, a moderate amount of fat with other vital vitamins and minerals. Even if the patient is sick and lying in bed, he spends a lot of energy and electrolytes due to fever, difficult breathing, vomiting, etc.
Aside from this, a lack of appetite can result in malnourishment and weight loss. In such a situation diet for pneumonia can help to maintain the electrolyte balance, restore the tissues which are damaged, improve the level of resistance to infection, and overall health.
- Getting enough calories to sustain the energy needs and gain weight is of prime importance in pneumonia diet treatment. Eat small meals frequently, at least five to six times rather than three large meals. Add high-calorie items such as milkshakes, custards, pudding, butter, eggs, and cottage cheese in your meals.
- Protein is necessary to rebuild the damaged tissue of the lungs in pneumonia. Choose protein-rich foods such as fish, chicken soup, eggs, lean meat, soybeans, seeds and nuts, flax seeds, tofu, etc.
- Eat a moderate amount of fat as it also helps to increase the calories. Butter, oil mayonnaise, etc can be used in food preparations.
- Vegetables and fruits should be a part of the pneumonia diet; they are useful to enhance the immunity to fight the infection. Besides, they contain vitamins and minerals that are vital for the recovery process.
Pneumonia diet treatment is as important as a medicinal treatment to recuperate from the disease.
It boosts the immune system and overall health of the patient.
- Drink water in enough quantity. You can add electrolyte powder to water or make simple salt and sugar solution with a teaspoon of lemon juice.
- Vitamin C is necessary for healing. Drink fruit juices such as orange juice or apple juice.
- Drink a glass of carrot juice or incorporate carrots into your food. The antioxidant value of carrots makes it a vital food for pneumonia patients. You can also include spinach and other green leafy vegetables in your diet.
- Avoid refined sugar, white flour, alcoholic beverages, strong tea, and coffee
We are living in a world where we face issues about climate change, caused mainly by humans polluting the Earth. In many cases, the air we breathe does contain several toxins.
March 07/2020, the coronavirus I am sure is on most people’s minds. COVID 19 as it is being called can be transmitted via the air that we breathe. The recommended distance three to six feet for safety mentioned on a special NBC program I watched last night. Only an opinion here, but I do think we take certain things for granted, and panic when things go wrong. The “World Health Organization” does not want to call this a pandemic as they feel this will panic the people further.
Well, COVID 19, as well as most respiratory illnesses, are on the rise. Please stay informed and take the necessary steps to protect yourselves. The guidelines are there.
When I include alternative remedies to treat diseases it is strictly a personal choice.
I AM NOT A DOCTOR. I AM A RESEARCHER. PLEASE ALWAYS CONSULT WITH A MEDICAL PRACTITIONER FIRST!!!
Thank you for reading,
Comments are welcome.