Pneumonia: Everything you need to know

Posted on : November 5, 2020 by Clinic One Team on Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a type of lung disease caused by a virus or fungi that causes alveoli (air sac) of the lungs to swell, which makes it hard for oxygen to get in your bloodstream.

It is a type of disease that affects children (mostly under 5) and adults (mostly of old age i.e., above 65 years) in which symptoms range from mild to life-threatening.

Pneumonia was responsible for 13% of deaths of children under the age of five in Nepal in 2019.

According to WHO, pneumonia is accountable for 14% of all deaths of children under 5 years of age killing more than 0.74 million lives worldwide in 2019.

So, we must understand its symptoms, causes, and preventive measures, which are described in the following paragraphs.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, pneumonia has become even more dangerous. COVID virus enters your body through the mouth, eyes, or nose and starts to multiple.

After multiplying, it starts to affect your lungs. It starts to damage your air sacs and surrounding tissues which also affects oxygen flow to your bloodstream.

As your body continues to fight the virus, swelling can cause you to build fluids and dead cells in your lungs, which leads to symptoms like shortness of breath and coughing.

Since COVID-19 pneumonia and regular pneumonia have the same symptoms, it is necessary to differentiate between them to get vaccinated and prevent pneumonia properly.

For further direction or consultation related to it, please consult a doctor.


What are the causes of Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a lung disease caused by:

  • Bacteria: It includes Streptococcus pneumoniae germ which lives in the upper respiratory tract of the lungs. It mainly occurs when you have had flu or viral cold. Other bacteria include Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydophila pneumoniae, Legionella pneumophila, etc..
  • Virus: Viruses that cause influenza (Flu) can also cause pneumonia, which is most common in adults, and the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) mostly affects children. It is not as serious as pneumonia caused by bacteria, it affects people severely only when they have a pre-existing condition. 
  • Fungi: It affects people who come into contact with birds droppings and contaminated soil. It is most common in people with health problems or weakened immune systems. It includes Pneumocystis pneumoniais (most dangerous in people with a weakened immune system) and other fungi.


What are the symptoms of Pneumonia?

  • Cough, sometimes with yellowy or even bloody mucus
  • Fever
  • Sharp or stabbing-like chest pain that gets worse while breathing deeply
  • Breathing heavily
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating and shaking chill
  • Nausea and vomiting, especially in children
  • Confusion, especially in old people, etc.

If you feel any or all of the symptoms given above, visit a doctor immediately. It is necessary to prevent or even cure pneumonia effectively, especially for people of old age and children.

To prevent and protect against it, you should get the pneumonia vaccine. Vaccination against flu and HIV/AIDS can also prevent pneumonia (Because flu and HIV/AIDS can also cause pneumonia).

Anyone should get vaccinated i.e. people in the most dangerous situations (such as old people, children, or people with a health problem). 


Who should get the Pneumonia Vaccine?

As per the CDC, the following people should get vaccinated:

  • Children (Under age 2), adults (above 65 years) by discussing with their physician, and people (2 years or older) with a health problem should get the PCV13 vaccine.
  • All adults (over 65 years), people (between 2 – 64 years) with health problems, and people (between 19 – 64) who smoke should get the PPSV23 vaccine.
  • People with a high risk of getting pneumonia should also get vaccinated, such as:
    • Who have an illness related to the spleen (abdominal organ with the function of production and removal of blood cells in most vertebrates).
    • Those with respiratory-related disease.
    • People with heart-related disease.
    • Those with chronic kidney, and liver-related disease.
    • People with a weakened immune system.
    • People who work in an occupationally risky field, such as welders, etc.


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Who should not get the Pneumonia Vaccine?

As per the CDC, the following people should not or don’t need to be vaccinated:

  • People (children or adults) who have an allergic reaction to the vaccine or the vaccine components.
  • People (children or adults) with serious health issues should consult with their doctor first before taking the vaccine.
  • Children (below 2 years) should not get the PPSV vaccine, and if that person has any allergies, consult with your doctor.
  • Pregnant women should not get the PPSV vaccine just to be safe (i.e there is no evidence of any adverse effects of the vaccine in a pregnant woman or her child but, should not be vaccinated just for precautionary safety)


Is there any side effect of the vaccine? Or Is it safe?

People do not get pneumonia from the vaccine. Some people do feel some mild effects of the vaccine, such as swelling, soreness, or redness of the spot where they got vaccinated, mild fever, fussiness/Irritation, loss of appetite, etc.

But, these side effects go away after a few days or even a few hours. But, if you have any allergies, please consult a doctor for proper direction.


Precautions to prevent Pneumonia

Vaccination against pneumonia can cure people. But, as an individual, you can also follow some procedure for preventing pneumonia, such as:

  • Quit smoking: Smoking can weaken your immune system, so quitting it can make the immune system stronger.
  • Do not forget to wash your hands continuously: Especially, if you have visited an infected place.
  • Cover while sneezing, and dispose of used tissues immediately.
  • Do regular exercise.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Do not consume a high amount of alcohol, etc.

Hence, it is necessary to get the vaccine for pneumonia to prevent and cure its effects on people.

The world is facing and fighting the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic right now, and if you get COVID-19, your immune system gets weaker which can lead you to get pneumonia disease.

Also with the ongoing pandemic, flu season is coming, with COVID and flu both attacking a person’s immunity, it can lead to a really weakened system.

So, we must get a vaccination against pneumonia (for people described above) promptly i.e if feeling any of the symptoms. 


References:

https://www.unicef.org/nepal/press-releases/more-23000-children-nepal-could-die-decade-unless-world-acts-pneumonia-leading

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