Pneumonia is an acute inflammation of the lungs (of one or, more commonly, of both) – of a mostly infectious nature. Which, if not recognized and treated, can compromise respiratory capacity. And therefore, in extreme cases, endanger the lives of those affected. Here we will give you a complete guide about what are the symptoms of pneumonia?
Common symptoms include fever, shortness of breath. They are sometimes wheezing or difficulty, chest pain, cough ( first dry, then oily ), fatigue, loss of appetite, malaise, and general laziness. Each of us can get sick with pneumonia one or more times in our life; it is not, in fact, a rare infection. Suffice it to say that on average, in the USA alone. Which over 10 thousand, unfortunately, do not survive. Pneumonia is the leading cause of death from infectious disease in Western countries.
However, it is mostly the most fragile individuals who are vulnerable to this type of infection. The elderly, people with chronic respiratory tract diseases, small children, patients. This image shows a girl wearing a sweater and a voluminous scarf, coughing immunosuppressed, hospital patients. Risk factors are also being smokers. Especially if they are long-term and being prone to recurrent infections of the upper respiratory tract. Infectious agents of various kinds
cause pneumonia: viruses (such as COVID-19, which we will discuss later), bacteria, fungi, protozoa. Each form of pneumonia takes on somewhat different characteristics and provides other treatments. For example, a common cause of pneumonia in over 65 unvaccinated is of ‘virus flu. Which from the upper respiratory tract can. In case of immune weakness, reach the lungs and create infectious foci affecting the alveoli. The tiny cluster- shaped structures that allow oxygen to get into the blood. And which can only be treated with symptomatic drugs.
Conversely, bacterial pneumonia, for example, is caused by Streptococcus pneumonia (or pneumococcus). Especially in the mucous membranes.
When we are weakened, debilitated, elderly or have particular stressful conditions, these germs can become aggressive and infect the lungs. Bacterial pneumonia can be more dangerous than viral pneumonia, have more severe symptoms. If the clinical picture appears serious, it is advisable to carry out the therapy in the hospital.
Speaking of hospitals, it is also interesting to specify that pneumonia comes differentiated. According to whether the contract “in the community,” or preferably in the environments. Each of our lives and works ( home, offices, public places, gyms, schools … ), or in the hospital.
Specifically, this is the classification:
- Community pneumonia (contracted outside healthcare facilities). Mostly caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, and mycoplasma (bacteria-like microorganisms. That infect the interstitial tissue of the lung, not the alveoli);
- Nosocomial pneumonia, contracted in the hospital during a hospital, stays for another illness or surgery. These are generally more severe bacterial pneumonia than community pneumonia, often resistant to antibiotics.
- Pneumonia related to health care affects patients in long-term care, receiving treatment in day hospital, dialysis etc. . Again, the pathogen is mostly antibiotic-resistant bacterial.
Before going into detail and explaining the causes of the different types of pneumonia. The symptoms with which this respiratory severe infection can manifest itself. Let’s see how widespread it is in the world and the USA. And we also dedicate a small study to the new coronavirus 2019-NCoV. Whose speed of diffusion is worrying the World Health Organization and bringing the country of origin to its knees: China.
Pneumonia is still scary, due to the current epidemic caused by the “new” coronavirus 2019-NCoV, originating from the Chinese city of Wuhan, which we will discuss in the next paragraph. Although its prognosis is only in rare cases adverse. Its course and the fact that it affects vital organs such as the lungs, straining the respiratory capacity, must remain conditions to be carefully monitored, in hospital admission, when necessary.
We come to the numbers of its diffusion, leaving aside the alarming figures of the new epidemic. The WHO informs us that in 2017 808,694 children died worldwide of this infectious disease and that pneumonia, therefore, takes away 15% of children under five years of age worldwide, but especially in Poorer countries, where getting sick is more comfortable due to poor hygiene, malnutrition and insufficient, if not non-existent, health care.
- Warning: many of these children could have been saved if they had received adequate antibiotic treatment!
In general, in the world, one million people die of pneumonia every year, most of whom are children ( Unicef data ).
Essential data, which could be superimposed on those of the new pandemic, which can sharply and dramatically aggravate the general picture also in European regions.
From Covid-19 (New Coronavirus) to the pneumonia epidemic that scares the world
Everyone is talking about it, with a growing alarm that has been confirmed by the WHO through official communications that follow one another without interruption: the “new” coronavirus – called 2019-nCoV – is spreading with unpredictable and unexpected speed. At the moment still, it is not possible to develop a vaccine, nor to establish an adequate antiviral therapy.
Image depicting coronavirus bacteria. The Ministry of Health has activated a portal entirely dedicated to the disease. Where it is possible to find updated data and advice for medical staff and ordinary citizens, especially those who for whatever reason have to carry out travel abroad (in particular to China or the East), or have just returned from it. In this paragraph, however, we try to understand what type of pneumonia is caused by the “new” coronavirus. How it manifests itself and what are the real risks that the infection entails or can entail.
What are coronaviruses?
It is a family of viruses responsible for causing respiratory infections in humans, including SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).
The 2019-nCoV coronavirus is the seventh identified so far, capable of being transmitted from human to human. The “primary” vector of the microorganism, however, is undoubtedly animal, probably a bat. The infection then passed from the animal to humans, and the virus “learned” to be transmitted from person to person directly. Important: Just like the flu, neo coronavirus is contagious even before the infected person shows symptoms of the disease.
What are the symptoms of pneumonia new viral infection, and how serious is it?
Initially, the disease manifests itself with flu-like symptoms such as fever, dry cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat. The infection can quickly spread to the lungs, aggravating the general picture.
People in good health have no difficulty in healing. Still, acute viral pneumonia of this type in elderly or already debilitated people, for example with previous heart, liver or kidney problems, suffering from diabetes, chronic diseases or with a weakened immune system, they can experience respiratory complications and even death.
How is it treated?
Treatment is currently symptomatic. As this is not a virus known to date, in fact, a vaccine or other specific therapy has not yet been developed.
How is contagion prevented?
The recommended measures are more or less the same as for preventing flu: Avoid close contact with people who show respiratory symptoms or who may have come into contact with the virus, wash your hands often, wear masks in crowded places and, in case of symptoms, immediately go to a health facility for checks.
Also Read: What Are The Symptoms Of The Flu
Furthermore, it is also good not to consume raw meat or fish, wash vegetables and fruit well, drink bottled water. These measures are especially valid if we are in areas of the world where the epidemic is present, or where some instances of contagion have already occurred, but since it is not predictable if (and when) the infection reaches the USA, we must be on guard.
Good to know: COVID-19 infection does not necessarily develop into pneumonia
Warning: it is not a fatal disease. It can, just like any pneumonia, aggravate a terrible overall health picture, and lead to complications and death, but that in no way means that getting this viral infection is a death sentence.
Symptoms: What are the symptoms of pneumonia disease
Infographic illustrating symptoms and prevention of pneumoniaDiagnosing pneumonia from symptoms isn’t always straightforward, such as the seasonal flu or a cold that does not heal. Especially viral pneumonia can present “almost” asymptomatic, or with nuanced and heterogeneous manifestations that can easily be underestimated or confused with another kind of infectious disease.
In children under the age of five, for example, who have symptoms such as coughing and laboured breathing. That the rib cage, during the breath, tends to sag as the abdomen rises.
Furthermore, always in young children. Breathing appears accelerated, and other specific symptoms may occur concomitantly. Such as inappetence (infants, for example, do not want to latch on to the mother’s breast or the nipple of the bottle). Hypothermia, loss of consciousness and convulsions. Note: dyspnea (i.e. difficulty in breathing), is a more common symptom in viral pneumonia.
Pneumonia can occur quickly without fever, although the temperature rise is a fairly common symptom. Viral pneumonia has, in many cases, originated from a previous infection of the upper respiratory tract ( nose, bronchi ). It manifests itself initially with flu-like symptoms including sore throat, headache, fever and chills, fatigue, joint pain and muscle, loss of appetite, dry cough.
From this primary, non-worrying symptom picture. Which can last from a few days to a week. However, it can lead to a rapid worsening of the general situation. With severe disorders including:
- Cough that turns from dry to productive (therefore with sputum );
- Chest pains ;
- Breathing difficulties ;
- High fever ;
- Blue discolouration of the lips ;
In children nausea and/or vomiting.
With symptoms of this nature. If the disease is bacterial in nature or caused by pneumococcus or another bacillus, then the first symptoms are the causes of pneumonia. There is the possibility that a bacterial infection will overlap, much more severe, especially in subjects over 65.
In this case, the symptoms already seen for viral pneumonia, are associated with fever even higher, accompanied by profuse sweating, rapid pulse. Even more difficulty breathing, bluish fingernails (a clear sign that the body is in high oxygen debt) and the ‘sputum may show streaks of blood. It goes without saying that such a clinical picture requires immediate hospitalization.
Viral and bacterial pneumonia, however, is not the only possible ones. As we will clarify in the next paragraph, in fact, pneumonia can also be “atypical”. In this case, in fact, lung inflammation occurs without fever, and cough and/or breathing difficulties arise late, slowly.
Causes: What Are The Symptoms Of Pneumonia
When these microorganisms reach the lungs and infect them, it happens that the alveoli, or the smallest components of the “respiratory tree”, which we can imagine as small hollow bags. That allows the gaseous exchange between the inhaled air and the blood. Become inflamed filling with pus and thus compromising the respiratory capacity.
Also Read: High Blood Pressure Symptoms
In the list of the most common pathogens, we find: what are the symptoms of pneumonia
- Haemophilus influenzae type B: the “common” seasonal influenza virus. Which is also the second, albeit indirect, cause of bacterial pneumonia. Because the inability of the immune system to neutralize the influenza virus allows this and other bacteria already present in the debilitated organism. To generate infectious foci in the lungs, inflaming them;
- Staphylococcus aureus: a rather aggressive bacterium. Which can create infectious foci in different areas of the body and subsequently “migrate”. Through the blood to the lungs, infecting them in turn;
- The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes the majority of cases of viral lungs in the world. It is a ubiquitous and contagious microorganism, which causes infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract. This type of viral pneumonia is particularly common among children ;
- In subjects, particularly children, with HIV, the microorganism. That most frequently causes pulmonary complications is Pneumocystis jiroveci, a fungus (just like Candida albicans ). Which acts as a pathogen in immunocompromised physicists;
A separate case is the so-called “atypical” pneumonia, in which it is not so much the alveoli that become inflamed. But the interstitial spaces between one alveolus and another.
- Mycoplasma pneumonia: a pseudo bacterium that usually tends to infect young people (under 40). Who live or work in crowded environments. Often this form of pneumonia manifests itself in a subtle, subacute way. Which is why those affected have subtle symptoms. Often the absence of fever and the diagnosis comes only when the general picture begins to worsen;
- Chlamydophila pneumonia: this microorganism most commonly causes infections of the upper respiratory tract but in some cases. It can also degenerate into non-acute pneumonia;
Other “at-risk” categories are:
- The addicted are (especially standing) and in general those who are exposed to secondhand smoke for many hours a day (e.g., children, children of addicted are);
- Those who suffer from the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma or cystic fibrosis ;