Healthy Living

Everything About Bacterial Pneumonia: Its Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Management

Everything About Bacterial Pneumonia: Its Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Management

Key Takeaways

  • Antibiotics will help reduce your chances of life-threatening complications like respiratory failure and enhance a quick recovery in you.
  • The severity of the disease could vary from person to person.
  • How quickly you will recover from pneumonia will depend on several factors.

What Is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a tenderness or inflammation of the lung, upsetting the air sacs (alveoli) predominantly. It is normally caused by infectious elements such as bacteria and viruses. Risk components of pneumonia are comprised of other lung-linked diseases, such as COPD, asthma, heart failure, etc.

Pneumonia affects almost 450 million people globally (7% of the total world populace) and of these, about four million succumb to it each year.

What Is Bacterial Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a condition where your lungs become infected by an organism, be it a bacterium, virus, or fungus. It is usually mild and easy to treat, but sometimes, pneumonia can become severe and even life-threatening.

The flu is a very common reason for bacterial pneumonia, so a good way to diminish the threat of contracting bacterial pneumonia is to combat the flu first and foremost.

Bacterial pneumonia is a common lung contagion where the lungs’ air sacks become swollen due to infectious components, such as bacteria and specific viruses. These sacs may fill with pus, fluid, and cellular wreckage.

The disease is normally caused by bacteria like Chlamydophila pneumoniae, Streptococcus pneumoniae (the most common culprit), or Legionella pneumophila. Bacterial pneumonia can affect anybody at any age. It can take place on its own or after a severe flu or cold.

Bacterial pneumonia, as the names suggests, is caused by bacteria. It may occupy a very small section of your lung or the entire organ. Pneumonia blocks oxygen from reaching your blood, which can result in improper cell functioning.

The severity of the disease can vary from person to person; for some, it may be a mild case, whereas for others, it could be a severe, life-threatening illness.

How quickly you recover from pneumonia depends on several factors, including the virulence of the instrumental organism, how soon you receive treatment, the status of your immune system (whether it is healthy or weakened), your age, past history of illnesses, and your current health status.

Bacterial pneumonia is a contagion in one or both lungs, causing swelling, tenderness, and fluid build-up. Although any type of pneumonia may be cured with home remedies, a patient of bacterial pneumonia needs to be hospitalized and show improvement in their condition over a period of two to three weeks to be deemed completely recovered.

Bacterial pneumonia can be easily treated, especially if treatment is begun early. Antibiotics will help reduce your chances of life-threatening complications, like respiratory failure, and increase your recovery rate.

What Are the Symptoms of Bacterial Pneumonia?

Symptoms of pneumonia can vary from insignificant to menacing. The common signs of pneumonia can arise abruptly and include:

  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Breathlessness, shallow breathing, or troubled breathing
  • Dry cough
  • Muscle aches
  • High fever
  • Quaking
  • Wheezing or feeling out of breath
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Hurried breathing

Some of the marks of pneumonia may indicate a medical emergency. Seek help if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Your skin turns a blackish-bluish color
  • You notice blood or blood particles while coughing up mucus

What Are the Causes of Bacterial Pneumonia?

Bacterial pneumonia is classified into two categories, depending on the place where the person acquired the infection: if a person develops the infection outside of a hospital or medical care setting, it is known as community-acquired pneumonia; if the infection is contracted while admitted in a hospital, it is known as hospital-acquired pneumonia.

This classification is important because, in both settings, the causative organism of pneumonia is different:

  • Community-acquired pneumonia: This is the most common form of pneumonia. It can be caused by several organisms, including Streptococcus pneumoniaeHaemophilus influenzae, and Staphylococcus aureus.
  • Hospital-acquired pneumonia: This form develops in patients who are in the hospital for another disease. They usually contract pneumonia about two or three days after admission. Hospital-acquired pneumonia is much more serious than community-acquired pneumonia, because the causative organisms are more virulent and resistant to antibiotics, thus making it hard to treat. The common organisms that cause hospital-acquired pneumonia are methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Who Is at Risk for Bacterial Pneumonia?

Those at risk for bacterial pneumonia include:

  • Children
  • Elderly citizens over 65
  • Individuals with a weakened or suppressed immune system
  • Smokers
  • Cancer patients
  • Patients on long-term immunosuppressing drugs, like corticosteroids

What Are the Symptoms?

Just like with other types of pneumonia, the symptoms of bacterial pneumonia include:

Is Bacterial Pneumonia Contagious?                                                  

Bacterial pneumonia is an infection of the lungs by germs such as viruses, bacteria, and, sometimes, fungi. Pneumonia is not infectious or contagious on its own, but the germs causing it can be.

The viruses and bacteria that cause the flu, common cold, or bacterial contaminations can lead to pneumonia.

Children under two years of age are more predisposed to pneumonia, and people over 65 are also inclined to contract this ailment because their immune systems do not have sufficient strength to fight such illnesses.

Smoking cigarettes and excessive alcohol consumption may also increase one’s risk of getting pneumonia.

Diagnosing Bacterial Pneumonia

Your doctor will take your detailed medical history and perform a complete physical examination to reach a differential diagnosis. They will listen to your lungs, and if they hear crackles or crepitation, and if all the other symptoms fit the description of pneumonia, they will order further tests to confirm the diagnosis.

The following are a few steps to diagnose pneumonia:

  • Your medical specialist may conduct a physical inspection, where they check your lungs with a stethoscope. If the lungs are affected by pneumonia, they may create echoing, bubbling, or scrunching sounds when you inhale.
  • The doctor may suggest a chest x-ray. 
  • Several patients may have to go through other tests, such as a blood test to check white blood cell count (WBC) and try to identify the germ causing pneumonia.
  • Arterial blood gases may be ordered to screen the idyllic oxygen level rolling into blood from the lungs.
  • A CT scan of the chest can elucidate the state of the lungs.
  • Sputum tests may be usedto uncover the bacterial symptoms.
  • A pleural fluid culture may be ordered if there are watery elements in the area neighboring the lungs.
  • Pulse oximetry estimates the amount of oxygen moving through the veins by clasping a tiny clip to the finger for a short period.
  • If you are hospitalized and antibiotics are not showing any positive results, a bronchoscopy, a procedure used to see into the lungs' airways, may be ordered.

Treating Bacterial Pneumonia

Treatment of pneumonia depends upon the type of pneumonia one has and how serious it is. The purpose of the treatments is to cure the disease and avoid additional complications.

The mainstay treatment in bacterial pneumonia is antibiotics. Initially, when the exact causative organism is not known, your doctor will start you on a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Broad-spectrum antibiotics target several likely organisms responsible for pneumonia. Once the sputum culture and antibiotic sensitivity test results come in, your doctor will change the antibiotics to a more appropriate one.

Additionally, some cough medications, antipyretics, and analgesics will also be prescribed to control your cough, fever, and pain, respectively.

To treat bacterial pneumonia, antibiotics are generally recommended by medical specialists. They have to be taken as per the prescription; if you stop taking the antibiotics before the treatment is complete, the pneumonia can recur at any time. Most people experience progress after only one to three days of treatment.

In some cases, pneumonia can be treated with home remedies, if not too serious.

Precaution is the best “cure” for bacterial pneumonia. Some preventive measures to avoid getting pneumonia include:

  • Immunization: Getting vaccinated and immunized is an easy way to avoid contracting the disease.
  • Practicing good hygiene: Maintaining hygiene is necessary to avoid pneumonia. Washing hands frequently with anti-bacterial soaps or hand wash liquids is highly recommended by physicians. If washing hands is not possible, you may alternatively use hand sanitizers, which are convenient to carry wherever you go.
  • Avoid contact with infected people: Avoiding contact with people who are infected with a cold, cough, flu, or other respiratory tract infections is extremely important to avoid pneumonia.

Home Remedies to Treat Pneumonia

  • Fenugreek: This helps remove poisonous components from the body through sweating and also helps clear a clogged chest. 
  • Garlic: Garlic is notable for its cold-dwindling characteristics due to its hot nature. It also supports the killing of germs around and inside the body when inhaled. Inclusion of garlic in your diet may help you get rid of pneumonia.
  • Essential oils: Taking a hot bath with supplementary essential oils such as camphor, lavender, tea tree, or eucalyptus helps clear jamming and congestion in the chest.
  • Salt water: Gargling salt water helps clear soreness in the throat and congestion in the respiratory tract.
  • Cabbage: Boil a few cabbage leaves in water and inhale the steam. This works wonders for all kinds of chest congestion, colds, and coughs.