On November 12, the world celebrates World Pneumonia Day.
Pneumonia is an acute infectious inflammatory process in the lungs that causes breathing problems and can be life-threatening. Pneumonia can be a complication of the flu, COVID-19, etc.
The Public Health Center of the Ministry of Health explained how to recognize pneumonia and prevent the disease.
What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs.
It is the main infectious cause of child mortality worldwide.
In 2019, more than 740,000 children under the age of 5 died as a result of it, which is 14% of all deaths of children under the age of 5.
“Lungs consist of small sacs (alveoli), which are filled with air during breathing in a healthy person.
When a person has pneumonia, the alveoli fill up with mucus and fluid, making breathing painful and limiting oxygen consumption.” – the department explains.
Pneumonia is caused by viruses, bacteria and fungi. The most common among them are:
- Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in children.
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is the second most common cause of bacterial pneumonia.
- Respiratory syncytial virus is the most common viral cause of pneumonia.
- In infants infected with HIV, Pneumocystis jiroveci is one of the most common causes of pneumonia.
Symptoms of pneumonia
In general, the symptoms of bacterial and viral pneumonia are similar, but a patient with viral pneumonia may have more symptoms.
The most common symptoms of pneumonia are:
- increase in body temperature (38-39°C, less often – 37.2-37.4°C), fever;
- cough with muco-purulent sputum discharge, but a dry cough is also possible;
- feeling of lack of air;
- decreased appetite, fatigue, drowsiness;
- shortness of breath during physical exertion;
- retraction of the chest – during inhalation, its lower part collapses (in a healthy person, the chest expands during inhalation);
- wheezing while breathing (more often during viral infections).
Infants may experience decreased appetite, body temperature, and sometimes convulsions.
“Very often during pneumonia, they try to listen to wheezing in the lungs, but it is not always possible. So, X-ray, computed tomography, pulse oximetry, blood and sputum analysis come to the rescue here.
How is the infection transmitted?
Pneumonia can be transmitted in several ways. Viruses and bacteria that are normally found in a child’s nose or throat can infect the lungs when inhaled.
They can also be spread by airborne droplets when coughing or sneezing. In addition, pneumonia can spread through blood, especially during and shortly after birth.
Worldwide, almost one in three (31%) children with suspected pneumonia do not receive medical care, and many are at risk of developing pneumonia due to low vaccination coverage, high levels of malnutrition and air pollution.
“Pneumonia prevention involves vaccination, a balanced diet, a healthy lifestyle, compliance with the rules of personal hygiene, and timely treatment of other health problems”– they also add in the CGZ.
Read also: Scientists have determined which complications are most often caused by COVID-19. Research
What to do if you suspect pneumonia?
Immediately consult a doctor, who will diagnose you and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
“Remember that treating pneumonia on your own is dangerous”– they say in the CGZ.
Self-medication, especially with the use of antibiotics, can complicate the diagnosis of pneumonia and further treatment!
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