Understanding Pneumonia

There are certainly all kinds of medical conditions and diseases out there that can be harmful to our health, and one of the more common maladies is that of pneumonia. An infection that causes either one or both of our lungs to be filled with fluid or pus and leads to inflammation, it is a condition that can be problematic for some.

The inflammation can also lead to phlegm buildup, coughing, as well as fever or breathing troubles. Pneumonia is definitely nothing to sneeze at, coming in second behind cancer as a fatal condition in Singapore causing 20.7% of deaths in 2019.

The following is a list of symptoms of pneumonia that everyone should keep an eye out for:

  • Cough that may produce green, yellow or bloody mucus
  • High fever
  • Bluish colour in lips and fingernails
  • Confused state or delirium in adults age 65 and over
  • Heavy sweating
  • Rapid or trouble breathing
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Rapid pulse
  • Sharp or stabbing pain when coughing or breathing

Causes of Pneumonia

In general, there are three main causes of pneumonia that the populace is vulnerable to:

  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • Pneumonia can be caused by a bacteria
  • Most commonly Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Other bacteria include Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Legionella pneumophila

Viral pneumonia

  • Pneumonia can also be caused by respiratory viruses
  • Usually milder and can improve with 1-2 weeks of self-recovery
  • Examples include the likes of influenza (flu), respiratory syncytial virus, rhinoviruses (common cold)

Fungal pneumonia

  • Originates from fungi from bird poop or soil
  • Affects people with a poor immune system
  • Examples include Pneumocystis jirovecii, Cryptococcus species, Histoplasmosis species

Pneumonia Prevention

The most comprehensive way of defending oneself against the danger of the condition is going through vaccination. As there are different strains of pneumonia, it is necessary to consider the different vaccines that are available. It is also important to take into consideration your age group and prevailing health conditions.

Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23 help prevent the condition caused by pneumococcal bacteria. The former is effective against 13 types of bacteria, and can be used for children under the age of two and for all adults, even those with chronic conditions. The latter is effective against 23 types of bacteria, and is not suitable for children under the age of two.

Flu vaccines are also important, as pneumonia can be due to the complication of the flu, while one can also consider the Hib vaccine. This protects against Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), a type of bacteria that can cause pneumonia, and is safe to use for all children under five years old.

Treatment for Pneumonia
Should you find yourself a victim of such infection, there are various ways in which you can recover from it safely.

Depending on the cause of pneumonia, there are various medications that can be used to treat the condition. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, antiviral, or even antifungal medication. Be sure to finish your course of medication for the most effective results. For certain patients, the doctor could just require you to rest at home for the condition to clear on its own.

Home Care
Patients who are asked to recover at home can count on over-the-counter medication in order to relieve any pain or fever that may arise. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen will certainly help, as will getting lots of rest and drinking plenty of fluids.

Lastly, if your condition worsens and is very severe, you may need to be hospitalised. Doctors will be on hand to keep track of your vitals, and use treatments such as intravenous antibiotics, respiratory therapy which may involve medication being delivered to the lungs, or oxygen therapy to help maintain oxygen levels in the bloodstream.

Knowledge to Protect Your Health
Nobody likes to get sick, but the more you know about the enemy, the better equipped you are to deal with the effects. Pneumonia can be a dangerous condition, but with the knowledge that there are cures and treatments available, you are able to put up a better fight and get well soon