Encyclopedia

Bacterial pneumonia

What is bacterial pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs. The inflammation more often simultaneously covers the alveoli, through which gas exchange takes place between the air we inhale and the surrounding lung tissue, which is called the interstitium. This condition causes disruption of the usual breathing process.

The body’s immune system normally protects the lungs from infection. In bacterial pneumonia, bacteria multiply in the lungs as the body tries to fight the infection. This response of the body to invading bacteria is called inflammation.

When inflammation develops in the alveoli – the microscopic air bubbles in the lungs – they fill with fluid.

The lungs become less elastic and cannot provide enough oxygen to the blood or remove carbon dioxide from it efficiently.

When the alveoli do not function properly, the lungs’ ability to extract oxygen from the air decreases. This leads to a feeling of shortness of breath, which is the most characteristic symptom of pneumonia.

What are the symptoms of bacterial pneumonia?

Doctors often group pneumonia into typical and atypical, according to the signs and symptoms.

This helps your doctor to determine in advance the type of bacteria that caused the pneumonia, the duration of the illness, and the method of treatment.

The most characteristic symptoms of typical pneumonia are:

  • High temperature and chills;
  • Moist cough with yellow or brown sputum;
  • There may also be chest pain that worsens with breathing and coughing;
  • The chest may also be painful to touch or pressure;
  • Shortness of breath especially if the patient has chronic lung diseases such as asthma or emphysema.
  • Chest pains can be a sign of other serious diseases and therefore do not try to diagnose them yourself, but seek medical help as soon as possible;
  • In the elderly, inflammation of the lungs can cause confusion.

The atypical form of the disease progresses gradually and its most common symptoms are:

  • Body temperature is usually slightly elevated and chills are less likely;
  • Headache, body and joint pains are also possible;< /strong>
  • The cough may be dry or accompanied by the release of a little sputum. The patient may not even have any chest pain;
  • Abdominal pain is possible;
  • Fatigue and a feeling of weakness;

In most cases of atypical pneumonia, the abnormalities in the lungs seen on X-rays are greater than the severity of the symptoms that occur.

What are the causes?

The disease is most often caused by bacteria or viruses, with bacteria being the most common cause.

Pneumonia can affect people of all ages, but people in certain age groups are at increased risk of developing pneumonia.

The most common bacterial cause of pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae, also known as pneumococcus. This bacterium is responsible for about half of all cases of bacterial pneumonia.

Streptococcus pneumoniae is highly contagious and is transmitted through airborne droplets or direct contact with an infected person.

Another important bacterial pathogen causing bacterial pneumonia is Haemophilus influenzae. However, this bacterium is a less common cause than Streptococcus pneumoniae and accounts for about one-fifth of all cases of bacterial pneumonia. Haemophilus influenzae usually attacks children and adults with weak immune systems.

Chlamydophila pneumoniae is a bacterium that can also cause bacterial pneumonia. It is a less common cause, but still plays a role in just over a tenth of cases. Chlamydophila pneumonia usually affects younger adults and is often associated with seasonal epidemics of pneumonia.

These bacteria are just some of the many microorganisms that can cause bacterial pneumonia.

Viruses can also be to blame for this disease, but they usually cause viral pneumonia, which differs from the bacterial form in terms of symptoms and treatment.

Factors that increase the risk of developing bacterial pneumonia include age (young children and adults over 65 are more vulnerable), a weak immune system (for example, in people with chronic diseases or after an organ transplant), nicotine addiction, chronic lung diseases and others.

The effective preventive measure to reduce the risk of bacterial pneumonia is vaccination.

Vaccines such as pneumococcal and Haemophilus influenzae can significantly reduce the likelihood of contracting the relevant bacteria and developing severe pneumonia.

Also, maintaining good hygiene, avoiding contact with infected people and strengthening the immune system through a healthy lifestyle are key factors in preventing this serious respiratory disease.

Treatment of pneumonia

Treatment of the bacterial form of the disease consists of the application of antibiotic therapy, maintaining the body’s hydration, taking medication to reduce the high temperature such as paracetamol or ibuprofen and to suppress the cough , if necessary.

  • Avoid smoking, as smoking has been shown to reduce the ability of the lungs to absorb oxygen from the air.
  • Choosing the appropriate antibiotic is done by the attending physician – a pulmonologist, who takes into account the age of the patient, whether he has chronic diseases. It is also taken into account whether the patient is a smoker and whether he consumes alcohol. The assessment also depends on whether the person affected by pneumonia is taking other medications.
  • The patient must inform his attending physician if he has had allergic reactions to certain medications in the past and, if possible, present a list with these drugs.

Hospitalization is necessary if the patient has severe breathing difficulties or the blood oxygen levels are too low.

In this case, an oxygen mask is placed on the patient, which provides additional amounts of oxygen and facilitates difficult breathing. In the hospital, it is also possible to prescribe an intravenous infusion of antibiotics.

How to protect ourselves?

In order to protect and maintain health and well-being, it is important to follow a few basic guidelines. First, get your vaccinations regularly to protect yourself from various infections.

Second, maintain strict personal hygiene by washing your hands frequently with soap and water.

Avoid contact with highly contagious people during disease outbreaks. Strengthen your immune system with a balanced diet, physical activity and enough sleep.

Last but not least, listen to your body’s signals and consult a doctor if symptoms occur. By following these steps, we can strengthen our health and protect ourselves from various diseases.

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