The pneumonia is a type of acute respiratory infection that occurs in lung tissue. It can be caused by various germs that cause uncomfortable symptoms such as cough, fever, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

This infection can affect different age groups, the most vulnerable being children and the elderly, where a severe infection can be generated that sometimes requires intravenous treatment.

This disease is due to several causes, being evidenced in different contexts, depending on the age of the patient, the place where the infection was acquired (home, hospital or nursing home), if the person suffers from any disease that compromises their defenses (cancer, diabetes or steroid treatment) or if you have a neurological disease (epilepsy, stroke, etc.).

Causes of pneumonia

There are various germs or microorganisms that can cause pneumonia, including viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

In children

In children under 5 years of age, the most common pneumonia is caused by respiratory viruses (including Influenza and Parainfluenza viruses) and secondly, pneumonia caused by bacteria is very common , being Streptococcus pneumoniae (known as pneumococcus), Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes the most important.

In children older than 5 years, infections are more frequently caused by pneumococcus and by other germs such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Chlamydia pneumoniae. In children with diseases that compromise their defenses such as leukemia and lymphoma, there may be other causes of pneumonia , with more aggressive germs such as gram-negative bacteria, resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and fungi such as Aspergillus .

In adults

In previously healthy adults, community-acquired pneumonia is caused by pneumococcus and respiratory viruses, with other germs such as Haemophilus influenza, Moraxella catarrhalis and other bacteria that also affect children.

When an adult is hospitalized or regularly attends a nursing home or receives hemodialysis, the so-called pneumonia associated with health care occurs , where resistant bacteria such as resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are involved , which must be treated in time to in order to avoid complications.

In people with cancer, alcoholism, Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection, and autoimmune diseases, pneumonia can be caused by germs such as Pneumocystis jirovecii, Cryptococcus, Histoplasma, Aspergillus, and even the Mycobacterium tuberculosis that causes tuberculosis. Bacteria such as Haemophilus influenzae, Pseudomona and Moraxella catarrhalis can be found in smokers and patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease All of these microorganisms can be treated with antibiotics.

In people with neurological diseases such as epilepsy, aspiration pneumonia can be seen , produced by anaerobic germs found in the oral cavity of patients, so the treatment may be different.

Symptoms of pneumonia

The symptoms of pneumonia may be different for each person. In children, the main symptoms are fever and cough . In the elderly, fever is rare, with cough and respiratory distress predominant in this group. Symptoms presented at all ages are generally:

  • Fever.
  • Shaking chills.
  • Dry cough or with expectoration.
  • Transparent, greenish or yellowish expectoration.
  • Decay.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Headache.

There is a type of pneumonia called atypical produced by Mycoplasma pneumoniae and the Chlamydia pneumoniae, which presents a different symptomatology, characterized by a chronic course and slow with coughing episodes dry constant pains sporadic throat and ears, muscle aches and pain head, which may be accompanied by alterations in other organs such as blood and skin.

If you have any of these symptoms, consult your doctor to make a timely diagnosis and receive the appropriate treatment.

How do you get pneumonia?

The Pneumonia is a respiratory disease transmitted from person to person. Most cases are due to person-to-person transmission through respiratory droplets contaminated by viruses, bacteria and fungi that come out of the mouth and nose through coughing and sneezing, being received through the respiratory tract of another individual who subsequently develops the infection.

In some cases of hospitalized patients or in an advanced stage of some disease, pneumonia may appear due to hematogenous dissemination (the bacteria travels from another place through the blood and lodges in the lung), being able to find bacteria that are not originally in the respiratory tract.

Another mechanism by which pneumonia can be contracted is aspiration , which is generated when secretions from the oral cavity enter the airway after vomiting episodes or when an elderly patient chokes while eating some food.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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