Healthy Living

How Does Pneumonia Develop?

How Does Pneumonia Develop?

Key Takeaways

  • Pneumonia is a serious disease affecting people of any age.
  • When your immune system is weak, infectious microorganisms rapidly multiply and spread causing pneumonia.
  • Whenever the infected person coughs, the expelled air and mucus will be highly contaminated by germs, which can affect people around them. 

Pneumonia is a disease that affects the lungs due to an infection caused by bacteria, virus, or fungus. Pneumonia can either affect the left, right, or both lobes of the lungs.

Pneumonia is a serious disease affecting people of any age. However, toddlers and young children are more affected by pneumonia. Pneumonia can even affect elderly people who have a weakened immune system. To summarize, immunosuppressed individuals get easily infected by pneumonia. It can also affect people who have other health problems such as diabetes, flu, long-term lung disease, heart diseases, AIDS, and other conditions that can suppress the immune system.

Inhalation of infected air droplets can easily allow the development of pneumonia in your lungs if your immune system is very weak to fight and destroy the germs. There are various reasons why people have an impaired immune system and some of them include:

  • newborns and very young children
  • old people
  • having a disease wherein your immune system is very busy fighting it or is exhausted
  • alcohol dependence
  • other types of chronic illnesses

Pneumonia also affects people who live in an environment where there are people already infected by the disease and where the pneumonia-causing germs are more concentrated.

When an individual is infected by pneumonia, the fluid present in the lungs starts shedding the dead cells, which clog up the air sacs called alveoli. Alveoli are important for breathing and for the exchange of oxygen. The clogged air sacs will cause a difficulty in breathing and reduce the absorption of oxygen into the bloodstream and other organs.

In the process of breathing, we inhale air through our nostrils. The air that we inhale passes through the trachea, bronchi, bronchioles, and finally, reaches the alveoli (air sacs). The alveoli contain thin porous walls meshed by very fine blood vessels. The inhaled oxygen moves into the blood capillaries and the carbon dioxide present in the blood moves into the air sacs. This carbon dioxide is exhaled out back through the nostrils. Our mouth, respiratory tract, and lungs are constantly exposed to microorganisms through the air we breathe, and the food and fluids that we consume. 

Your body's immune system regularly destroys the harmful microorganisms that enter your body, and infections are always in check when the immune system is very strong. When your immune system is weak, infectious microorganisms rapidly multiply and spread causing pneumonia. Later, more and more white blood cells accumulate in the alveoli to defend the body, resulting in a collection of dead blood cells, proteins, and other fluids that lead to inflammation. As the accumulation of fluid increases in your lungs, the quantity of air decreases causing swelling of the pleurae and breathing difficulties, especially while lying down or sleeping.

In about two to three days, the small blood vessels that surround the air sacs swell up and break, resulting in blood leaking into the air sacs. The lungs will start appearing grayish brown in color due to the accumulation of red blood cells. The sputum that you cough up will be greenish or brownish in color due to the presence of blood cells. In this stage, the infection is already advanced. Whenever the infected person coughs, the expelled air and mucus will be highly contaminated by germs, which can affect people around them. Wearing a mask is advisable to avoid spreading the infection and also to prevent getting infected by the contaminated air.

Common Symptoms of Pneumonia

The symptoms of pneumonia quickly show once the person has been infected.

Diagnosis

Pneumonia is not an uncommon disease. It is faced by thousands of people each year. However, there is a proper treatment for pneumonia. The treatment varies according to the severity of the illness. It also varies according to age. The first thing a doctor does is examine the medical history of the

The first thing that a doctor does is to get the medical history of the patient and then followed by a physical examination. The doctor makes use of a stethoscope to listen to the lungs. If you have pneumonia, your lungs may have a bubbling, crackling, or rumbling sound when you inhale. You may also experience wheezing, and it may be hard to hear the sound of breathing in some areas of the chest. If the doctor suspects of pneumonia, the x-ray of the chest will be taken. There are some patients, who may require other tests. In these people , the symptoms may not be too evident. Other related tests, will help confirm this. A blood test is done to check the count of white blood cells so as to identify the germs present in the blood. Pneumonia is caused by specific

If the doctor suspects of pneumonia, a chest X-ray will be done. There are some patients who may require other tests if their symptoms are not too evident. Other related tests will help confirm their condition. A blood test is done to check the count of white blood cells so as to identify the level of infection in your body. 

A CT scan of the chest can be done to get a better view than that provided by an X-ray. The mucus collected from a deep cough can also identify the organisms present in it. Pleural fluid culture is a test to find out if there is fluid surrounding the lungs. Bronchoscopy is a method used to look into a lung’s airways, which is carried out only if you are hospitalized and antibiotic treatments are ineffective. 

How serious is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a very serious lung disorder. One should not do the mistake of taking it too lightly. Thousands of people lose their lives to pneumonia each year. Utmost care and importance should be given to this condition. Pneumonia tends to be more serious for people who are old or too young, or people who are already dealing with some other chronic illnesses and taking medication for the same.

If you develop pneumonia, your chances of a fast recovery are greater if:

  • your pneumonia is detected at the earliest
  • you are young
  • lead a physically active lifestyle
  • the infection hasn’t spread
  • your immune system is functioning well
  • you are not suffering from another type of illness

People who are at risk of developing pneumonia

  • people who are older than 65 years
  • smokers
  • people who have had a stroke, have issues in swallowing or are bedridden
  • people with a complicated illness such as cancer or AIDS 
  • have underlying lung diseases, including cystic fibrosis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or emphysema
  • people who are diabetic
  • those who excessively consume alcohol
  • drugs dependents