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What is Pneumonia?

Immune | May 28, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

Immune

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a type of respiratory infection that affects the lungs. The infections can either be of a bacterial or viral nature which can partially determine the type of pneumonia symptoms experienced by someone.

Initially when an individual develops pneumonia, symptoms are the same whether the infection is caused by a bacteria or a virus. These symptoms include mild fever, a dry cough, headache, muscle pains and fatigue and/or weakness. Feverish symptoms tend to get worse however within several days when the pneumonia infection is bacterial in nature. Most people will start to display more severe pneumonia symptoms within three to four days of the infection taking hold. These symptoms include having trouble breathing, coughing up mucus and also developing higher fevers. In some cases, viral pneumonia causes more symptoms than bacterial cases do, although each individual case is different.

Is Pneumonia Contagious?

 Yes, pneumonia can spread from person to person, but it can also develop in other ways too.

Infectious agents that cause pneumonia can be transmitted from person to person or spread from certain parts of someone’s body (like the nose) to the lungs. Some of the ways these agents are passed from person to person include:

  • Inhaling them. Organisms can be spread via airborne droplets.
  • Being near someone else who is infected with pneumonia and coughing or sneezing.
  • Being exposed to blood from someone with pneumonia.
  • Pregnancy and delivery. If the mother is infected, the infant can become infected after being exposed to her blood.

The same types of bacteria or viral pathogens that cause pneumonia infections are already present in many people’s airways and sinuses, especially in children, who carry these organisms in their noses and throats.

pneumoniaThe problem starts when these organisms enter and infect the lungs.

How strong someone’s immune system is largely determines whether or not these organisms have the chance to spread, proliferate and cause an acute lung infection.

 

Signs and Symptoms of Pneumonia

The most common signs and symptoms of pneumonia are as follows:

  • Persistent coughing
  • Coughing up mucus. Sometimes mucus can contain small amounts of blood or appear green and/or yellow
  • Trouble breathing normally and shortness of breath.  Wheezing is more common when the pneumonia is viral
  • Chest pains, especially upon movement
  • Rising Fever. Usually fevers are mild but in some people become high.  In cases of bacterial pneumonia, fevers can sometimes cause body temperature to rise to 40 degrees. In the case of bacterial pneumonia, it can take several days for fevers to become severe.
  • Experiencing symptoms that can accompany a fever, such as having the chills, headaches, stomach aches, confusion/disorientation, shaking or sweating
  • Fatigue and muscle aches
  • Rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, changes in skin colour and becoming delirious, especially when experiencing a high fever

In infected infants, serious complications can sometimes develop, including being unable to drink, unconsciousness, hypothermia and convulsions

How Long Does Pneumonia Last?

Every person’s body and immune system will cope with pneumonia infections differently, but most usually start to show symptoms within about three to seven days of the infection developing. Some have pneumonia symptoms in as little as one day, while others might be contagious but not show symptoms for up to 10 days. Most people have pneumonia symptoms for about two to three weeks before feeling totally better, although a quicker recovery and developing complications that last longer are both also possible.

Causes of Pneumonia

Pneumonia is caused by a variety of infectious agents and develops when the lungs become filled with pus and mucus, making it hard to breath, get enough oxygen and control coughing. The parts of the lungs that are most affected by pneumonia infections are called the alveoli, which are small sacs that normally fill up with air/oxygen allowing for normal breathing to take place.

While people of all ages and levels of health can develop pneumonia for many different reasons, researchers believe that there are five main infectious agents to blame that are the primary causes of pneumonia:

Harmful bacteria

Causes of PneumoniaThese most common ones include streptococcus pneumoniae (especially in children with pneumonia) and haemophilus influenzae type b. Pneumocystis jiroveci is another type of bacteria that is associated with death due to pneumonia in children with viruses, such as HIV.

Viruses

This type of pneumonia is often called respiratory syncytial virus.

Mycoplasma

This contributes to walking pneumonia in most cases. Walking pneumonia is a mild case of pneumonia or “atypical pneumonia” because it’s not like more serious cases of pneumonia and a lung infection is often to blame.

Infection

Due to other organisms, including fungi.

Exposure to certain toxic chemicals

These include those from fumes, tobacco products or cigarettes that weaken the immune system.

Risk Factors for Pneumonia:

  • Becoming infected with the flu or another respiratory infection or virus (such as a common cold, laryngitis, bronchitis or influenza)
  • Having a chronic respiratory or lung disease, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or cystic fibrosis
  • Being elderly. Research shows that the elderly tend to suffer from pneumonia and experience more serious complications than younger adults
  • In children, having any form of chronic respiratory disease or frequent respiratory infections, especially COPD, severe allergies or asthma 
  • In infants, if their mothers were infected or have another respiratory illness they can become infected too
  • Having a weakened immune system due to other illness like autoimmune disorders, viruses such as HIV, measles, hepatitis or serious infections
  • Malnutrition or undernourishment due to a poor diet
  • Taking medications that lower immunity
  • In infants, being formula-fed instead of breast-fed, which improves immunity
  • Smoking cigarettes and having related complications, such as lung damage or emphysema
  • A history of common inflammatory diseases that weaken the immune system, including diabetes, heart disease or liver disease/damage
  • Recovering from surgery or trauma

Herbs for Pneumonia

Garlic

Herbs for PneumoniaGarlic contains allicin, a compound that is responsible for providing protection against bacterial, viral and parasitic infections as well as preventing sicknesses, enhancing the immune system, and combatting oxidative and inflammatory stress. 

Garlic can be added at the end of cooking or taken as a capsule daily for an extra immune boost.

Ginger

A pneumonia-fighting root vegetable, ginger eliminates toxins and heals spasmodic pneumonia. It can be added fresh or dried to smoothies, stir-fries, or salads, or drunk as a tea. Ginger capsules can also be taken on a regular basis for prevention or an increased dose in an acute case of pneumonia.

Astragalus

This herb encourages antibody production, boosts the immune system and raises the body's resistance to viruses and bacteria. There are capsules, powdered root and essential oils available.

Echinacea

Echinacea is helpful for patients with pneumonia due to its antiviral and antibacterial nature. Echinacea also enables the immune cells to be more effective at combatting bacteria, viruses and abnormal cells, and raises the amount of immune system cells. Echinacea capsules and tinctures are available to be used daily or in the case of pneumonia.

Fenugreek

Fenugreek is an excellent mucolytic that helps relieve mucous congestion making it an effective home remedy for pneumonia. It also induces copious perspiration which helps dispel toxicity from the body. This herb can be taken as a capsule, tincture or tea.

Turmeric

Herbs for PneumoniaTurmeric powder is a natural mucolytic which helps to expel mucous phlegm and catarrh from bronchial ducts. Taking one tea spoon of turmeric powder orally is an effective cure for pneumonia, as to are turmeric tablets or capsules.

Goldenseal

Pneumonia patients can greatly benefit from goldenseal's antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. Moreover, an alkaloid present in goldenseal called berberine, plays an essential role in fighting various bacteria, protozoa and fungi, and facilitates easier elimination of bacteria.

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References

http://data.unicef.org/topic/child-health/pneumonia/

https://lungfoundation.com.au/?s=pneumonia&searchsubmit=

http://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/pneumonia/?referrer=https://www.google.com/

https://www.webmd.com/lung/understanding-pneumonia-basics

https://statistics.blf.org.uk/pneumonia

http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/pneumonia

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)61459-6/abstract

http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/86/5/07-048769.pdf

Leech, D. 11 Proven Health Benefits of Garlic. Authority Nutrition, April 2016

Ware, “Ginger: Health Benefits, Facts, Research,” Medical News Today, January 5, 2016

https://articles.mercola.com/pneumonia/treatment-remedies.aspx

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3608175/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15688692

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4032839/

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