To understand what causes pneumonia, we first need to know what it is and what its symptoms are. Having a good grasp of these aspects aids in the identification of proper treatments and preventive methods. What follows is the pneumonia definition and everything else that you need to know about it.
What Are the Symptoms of Pneumonia? | Types, Causes, and Treatments Discussed
In This Article:
- Pneumonia Definition: What Is Pneumonia?
- What Are the Different Types of Pneumonia Based on Source?
- Understanding the Nature of Pneumonia
- Pneumonia Is Contagious
- Other Causes of Pneumonia
- The Pneumonia Virus and Bacteria
- What Are the Symptoms of Pneumonia?
- Risk Factors for Pneumonia
- Protecting Yourself from Contagious Pneumonia
Pneumonia Definition: What Is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a disease wherein your lung tissues begin to inflame. The airway begins to fill with pus or unwanted cell material causing the air sacs to not work correctly. The tissue of the lungs is very delicate as it facilitates air to flow in and out. The tissue of the lungs can be easily damaged with slight mistreatment because they are delicate. If such a scenario takes place, pneumonia can occur.
It’s an Invasion of Organisms
Pneumonia can occur due to the invasion of 30 different organisms. These organisms include virus, bacteria, and fungi. Dust particles and intoxicating fine particles entering the air sacs of lungs may also be potential causes of pneumonia. But in medical science, in most cases, the reason for pneumonia is due to virus or bacteria. The most common type is the Streptococcus pneumoniae.
What Are the Different Types of Pneumonia?
Types Based on Source
As we go through the pneumonia definition, we can also tackle the different types of pneumonia. These can actually be interpreted in several ways due to factors like severity, effect, and also the environment. In most cases, pneumonia is classified by doctors in the way that it is acquired by a host body. Based on such factor, the types of pneumonia is described below.
- Community-Acquired Pneumonia (CAP) – This is a type of pneumonia which is acquired by the host body from the outside environment. In hospitals or general healthcare environments, the case of being affected by pneumonia is comparatively low. In that case, most of the pneumonia patients that come are affected by their community. CAP is a common disease in winter, and such cases are brought forward on a regular basis.
- Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia (HAP) – This is the type of pneumonia that is acquired during hospitalization. The patient develops pneumonia while being admitted for other medical conditions. This type of pneumonia is less promising because the patient already has a preexisting condition.
Classifications Based on Affectation
Other than above classification, another classification exists. This one classifies the illness based on how the inflammatory cells attack the lung tissue. Such types of pneumonia disease are described below:
- Bronchopneumonia is a case in which the patient’s air sacs have scattered inflammation. There are also patchy infiltrates. These are present throughout the lungs.
- Lobar Pneumonia occurs when there is inflammation of a single lung. This inflammation in the single lobe creates effect throughout the whole airspace of that particular lobe.
- Lipoid Pneumonia refers to the coagulation of fats within the air spaces of the lungs. The main reason of lipoid pneumonia is the aspiration of oil or obstruction of the airways.
Categories Based on Causative Agent
Pneumonia can also be categorized by what causing organism. These are the most common types of pneumonia based on which organism is causing the disease:
- Viral Pneumonia: If the person is infected by a virus, then it is called viral pneumonia.
- Bacterial Pneumonia: If affected by bacteria, then the type of pneumonia is called bacterial pneumonia.
- Fungal Pneumonia: If the inflammation is due to fungus, then it is called fungal pneumonia.
Other Known Types of Pneumonia
Other than the previously mentioned types of pneumonia, there are also miscellaneous types:
- Aspiration Pneumonia – If you inhale drink or even food, saliva, or vomit into your lungs, your swallowing reflex is impaired. This impaired reflex hampers your lungs and can also cause pneumonia. This type of pneumonia is known as Aspiration Pneumonia. It is possible when a person is intoxicated or suffering from brain injury.
- Walking Pneumonia – A person suffering from this type of pneumonia will have a sore throat, headache, tiredness, and fever with chills. Mild flu and severe coughing without mucus are other symptoms of Walking Pneumonia. This type is caused by mycoplasma which is an atypical bacterium. It is the smallest agent that can affect humans.
- Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia – This is another type of pneumonia-related with Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia. It occurs when a person is hooked to a ventilator to support respiration. It is most common in intensive care units.
Understanding the Nature of Pneumonia
Pneumonia disease hinders the respiration process that acts as cold or flu. When having pneumonia, the patient has more trouble inhaling oxygen. This is so as the alveoli are infected with pus cells. Thus, the lungs fail to work properly. Oxygen does not enter the bloodstream as it normally would. This results in the patient needing to undergo intensive care and medication.
The Danger of Respiratory Diseases
Pneumonia is a dangerous disease, and in some cases, deadly. In general, respiratory problems are dangerous because they mess up the body’s natural breathing system. Pneumonia is something that people should try to avoid or take precautions to not catch. A very crucial statement here is to understand how a person can be affected by this disease.
Pneumonia Is Contagious
Speaking of which, is this disease contagious? The answer is, it varies. You have known that there are several types of pneumonia. These diseases are not the same, though they display the same symptoms. We have to understand that the contagious factor of pneumonia is also not the exact same for all its types. Generally, viral and bacterial pneumonia is contagious.
Defining a Contagious Disease
We have covered a number of pneumonia facts to discuss whether pneumonia is contagious or not. But the term contagious has several clauses within. To understand fully the contagious nature of pneumonia, we must figure out what actually contagious diseases are.
The Transmission to Other People
A contagious disease is a subset category of transmissible diseases transmitted from one person to another. This is by physical contact with the person suffering the disease, by casual contact with their secretions, through objects touched by them, or through airborne route. This is the basic definition used to describe a contagious disease. We now know that a contagious disease has the potential to get transmitted to another person.
How Is Pneumonia Transmitted?
Contagious diseases are very much dangerous and are likely to create an epidemic. It is very much recommended to stay alert and cautious.
Modes of Transmission:
- Physical contact – This is the first and the most dangerous mode of transmission of disease. A contagious disease is due to virus or bacteria. It must have the trait to be transmitted through physical contact, then and only then you will be affected.
- Casual contact – This is another mode of transmission of contagious diseases. Casual contact is contact with the secretion of the person infected. You may also get infected if you touch objects touched by the person infected with the contagious disease.
- Airborne – Contagious diseases may also be airborne. The virus or bacteria causing the contagious disease may affect you through the air that is transmitted into the body from the host.
Examples of how pneumonia can be transferred from one susceptible host to another:
- Touching things out in the open
Note: Pneumonia is also contagious but not all the types. Children below the age of 2 and above 65 are very much prone to pneumonia as the immune system is not up to the mark.
Other Causes of Pneumonia
Pneumonia is a contagious disease, but only if caused by bacteria or virus. There is also another reason for pneumonia. When chemicals or toxic fumes are inhaled, it may hamper the respiratory tracts. This is also a potential cause of pneumonia but the better side is that it is not contagious. Bacteria and virus are the main agents to transfer the disease from one host body to the other. If a person is affected by other types of pneumonia and not from bacteria and virus, then that patient is not a potential threat. He is not likely to spread the disease. That form of pneumonia is not contagious.
To understand the topic more, we need to understand more about the pneumonia definition and its contagious types. Along with getting in-depth knowledge about the types of pneumonia, we must also find out why and when this type of pneumonia is contagious – how it will affect the patient and how one will react when infected.
The Pneumonia Virus and Bacteria
Pneumonia is actually not contagious. That is if you do not catch pneumonia directly from a germ. It is just the name of the disease. What you actually get affected with is the germ that has the potential to cause pneumonia to the host body. In that case, we are referring to virus and bacteria. Virus and bacteria can move from one host body to another host body. From the host body, the germ invades the next body and infects it.
It Needs a Carrier
From this, we have understood that for pneumonia to be contagious, it must be carried through an agent. That agent is a microorganism like a virus or a bacterium. Microorganisms cannot be seen through naked eyes. They find a host body to invade.
Reproduce Until the Immune System Fails
In their life cycle, microorganisms reproduce based on its natural process. When the virus or bacteria are a potential threat — if they have the capability to bring forth pneumonia — then it is dangerous for the host body. The whole immune system will fight to keep the invading germs away. When the immune system fails, then you will be affected by pneumonia.
What Is the Incubation Period for Pneumonia?
The incubation period of a disease is the period between exposure to an infection and the appearance of the first symptoms. It is the time period when the germs enter your body to the time of the first surfacing of the symptom.
It takes time for the incubation period to onset. When the germs are developing, then your immune system will not hold it back. Your organ systems will begin to work, and you will show symptoms of the concerned disease. There is a gap between getting infected with the disease and showing the first symptom of that disease. This is known as the incubation period.
First Signs of the Disease
After a fixed period of time, you will be showing several sorts of symptoms of pneumonia. This fixed period of time is known as the incubation period of pneumonia. The incubation period of pneumonia is 7 to 10 days, but the incubation period of pneumonia may vary due to age or overall health. For example, children below 2 years of age or people who are more than 65, their incubation period will be lesser.
What Are the Symptoms of Pneumonia?
Symptoms are generally the signs of the disease which help us to identify the disease in the first step. After learning about the symptoms, we can easily conclude what sort of disease is that and later on we can work on the cure.
Upon knowing the pneumonia definition, we can conclude that it is a disease that needs immediate attention. Without proper care and taking the right decisions from the very beginning, the case is likely to become worse and ultimately get out of hand.
1. Flu-Like Fever and Chills
In the early stage, the symptoms of pneumonia are very similar to that of flu or the same when you catch a cold. But with time, it will gradually become worse and it will last more than 10 days. The body will have a high fever along with chills.
2. Coughing with Mucus
Coughing will be common and will produce a lot of mucus. During those coughs, there will be much pain in the chest and also there will be aching during the inhalation and exhalation process. Fatigue will be common, and you will have shortness of breath more often.
3. Diarrhea, Nausea, and Vomiting
Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting are also the symptoms of pneumonia. Firstly, you will have the common symptoms of the flu. But gradually, it will develop into these symptoms in not more than 1 to 3 days in total. If you see such a condition, it is likely that you have been affected by pneumonia and if that pneumonia is viral or bacterial, it will be contagious, too.
4. Difficulty Breathing
The patient suffering from pneumonia will have serious problems in breathing. Cracking sounds can be heard while breathing too. This can be heard through a stethoscope. It is advised that a doctor should be consulted at the very initial stage before the effects of pneumonia can turn severe.
Risk Factors for Pneumonia
You are more susceptible to getting infected with pneumonia if you have a weaker immune system. Your immune system is the only defense against the pathogenic organism that tries to invade your body. The pathogens or alien bodies get into your body through various agents and later on try to break the barriers and make your body their host. This is when you get affected with a disease.
1. Weakened Immune System
If your immune system is weak, you are more prone to catching pneumonia. We have understood that the virus or bacteria is the main cause of contagious pneumonia. So if your immune system is weak, it cannot protect against the severity of those germs or harmful pathogens.
2. Old Age and Infants
Other than this, there is a factor of age. People who are above the age of 65, begin to lose their protection against pneumonia. Their immune system does not work properly to keep contagious diseases away. Again, children below the age of 2 are also in the same category. Their immune system is not that of an ideal one resulting in the failure to keep away germs. They are prone to viral and bacterial pneumonia that is contagious.
3. Frequent Smokers
Smoking is a very bad habit and creates abruptness in the lungs. As we know that pneumonia creates pus or liquid in your lungs and thus create an obstacle to breathing. Respiration process gets hindered due to pneumonia. It gradually destroys the lungs with the harmful particles in the puff of cigarettes. So for smoking, your lungs will fail to work properly and your body will become very much prone to pneumonia. The same goes for alcohol. Smoking and drinking is not a healthy way to lead your life and so it is advised that you keep yourself away from such things. It will help you to keep away from pneumonia as well as other diseases.
Protecting Yourself from Contagious Pneumonia
The virus and bacteria from the person affected with pneumonia can come to your body or the people around and they will also catch pneumonia. We obviously do not want that, and we would want to get away from this disease. To save ourselves from pneumonia, we should follow some basic instructions. The next segment will be about the precautions of contagious pneumonia and how you can save yourself as well as your family from this disease.
- Do not come in direct contact with a person with pneumonia: The first chance for the germs to enter your body is through contact. Your hands and your face is more likely to catch the germ and make it possible for the germs to enter your body. That is why it is advised to wash your hands with antiseptic after coming in contact with a patient. In general, wash your hands with antiseptic to keep away from germs and diseases.
- Cover your mouth when sneezing: Keep a cover on your mouth and nose too. It is also a good practice to cover your mouth when sneezing so that germs do not spread.
- Have a healthy lifestyle: Your immune system should always be ready for any sort of diseases. For that, you should be healthy. Your lifestyle should be healthy and try to keep fit all the time. It will keep away not only pneumonia but also all sort of diseases. Eating a healthy diet is the best prevention for all the diseases and all the specialists in this field will recommend you the same. You must also take adequate rest and sleep well.
1. Take Supplements
You are also advised to take plenty of Vitamin C. It helps loosen the mucus in your lungs lose so they can work properly without any complications.
Dietary supplements like the Priority One Bio Vegetarian tablets provide immune system support with its nutrient-packed formulation. It combines all the essentials needed to boost defense against foreign bodies:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
- Herbal extracts from barberry, Oregon grape, and echinacae root
- Citrus bioflavonoids like myrrh resin, ginger root, cayenne, garlic, and grapefruit seed extract
2. Watch Out for Signs of Pneumonia
Once you show the signs of a minor cough, cold, or flu, it is advised that you take precaution right from then. The primary symptoms of pneumonia are like simple flu but with time, it evolves to pneumonia.
3. Consult with a Doctor
Once you see the symptoms of pneumonia, the best first step is to consult with a doctor. A doctor will prescribe medicine and the antibiotic will work for you. It will clear away the disease and make you healthy like before. In the case of bacterial pneumonia and fungal pneumonia that are contagious, drugs are very much effective. But in the case of viral pneumonia, the situation is not the same.
Doctors have their own way of handling the matter and so it is recommended that you consult the doctor and get healthier as soon as possible. A speedy recovery is possible if you follow these guidelines. However, there is still a chance you could still catch contagious pneumonia. At this point, you would want to then seek a doctor’s help.
4. Seek Necessary Medical Procedures
Other than these simple forms of pneumonia in patients, there are some severe cases where medicine or simple remedies are not enough. Medical procedures are required to drain out the infected tissue from the lungs.
To know more about the pneumonia definition and why you have to take this seriously, watch this video from Pfizer’s channel:
Pneumonia is a threat to health and can be life-threatening if allowed to progress. Prevention and treatment are core to the pneumonia definition. Proper health teachings and information dissemination can pave ways to keep the spread of the disease.
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Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. None of the nutritional products mentioned is intended to Diagnose, Treat, Cure, or Prevent Any Disease.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 17, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.