Pneumonia is the inflammation of the lung’s air sacs. It is a serious lung infection that can be caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi.
What are the signs and symptoms of pneumonia?
- Difficulty in breathing
- Chest pain
- Fever and chills
- Muscle pain
Normally, all the germs in the air you breathe are trapped in the mucous layer lining your trachea, bronchi and bronchioles. The hair like structures called cilia constantly sweeps them upwards to your throat and the germs are expelled out by coughing.
Sometimes, the germs get passed your mucous and cilia and enter your alveoli. Normally, cells from your immune system attack these germs which keep them from making you sick.
You have 2 lungs. Each lung has separate sections called lobes.
Normally as you breath, air moves freely through your trachea (wind pipe), then through large tubes called bronchi and small tubes called bronchiole. Finally the air moves into tiny sacs called alveoli. When you breathe in, each air sac inflates like a small balloon and when you breathe out it deflates. These air sacs are surrounded by capillaries through which blood flows. The oxygen in your air sacs is exchanged with carbon dioxide in the blood via diffusion. The carbon dioxide released to the air sacs will be then exhaled out.
When you have pneumonia- the alveoli( air sacs) become inflamed and fill up with fluid.
What are the complications?
- Respiratory failure – This is when your breathing becomes so difficult that you need a machine called a ventilator to help you breath.
- Bacteraemia – This is when the bacteria multiplying in your alveoli manage to enter your blood stream. They may travel to infect other organs.
- Lung abscess – In some cases of pneumonia, large collections of fluid and pus called an abscess may form inside one of your lungs.
- Empyema – When an abscess forms around the outside your lungs, it is called as an empyema.
- Pleural effusion – This is when some of the fluid enters the pleural cavity surrounding your lungs.
- Antibiotics are given if the cause is bacterial.
- Antiviral drugs are given if the cause is viral.
- Antifungal medication if it is a fungal cause.
- If you have severe pneumonia, you may be admitted to the hospital and given oxygen and intravenous antibiotics.
- Simple analgesia such as paracetamol may be given for pain.
Pneumonia is usually not serious and lasts only for a short period. If you have a bacterial pneumonia, the most common type, it can be cured easily if treatment is started early.
However, the flu virus causing viral pneumonia can sometimes be severe or fatal.