Pneumonia is a very common condition that affects over three million people in the United States each year. It is an infection that can cause a severe illness in which one or both lungs can fill with fluid or phlegm, mucus that is generated in the lungs. Accumulation of fluid in the lungs can lead to the development of pneumonia. Additionally, an overabundance of mucus in the lungs can cause scarring, and in extreme cases, it can result in significantly more damage to the lungs. Read on to explore the different causes of pneumonia.
Bacteria is the leading cause of pneumonia, with Streptococcus pneumonia being the most common etiologic cause of bacterial pneumonia. Bacterial pneumonia caused by Streptococcus can be the result of an infection of this bacterial species or as a secondary infection that can occur following infection with a different bacterial species. Atypical pneumonia is another form of pneumonia that is usually only prevalent during the latter half of the year, primarily during the summer and winter months. Mycoplasma pneumonia also often leads to the condition. There are also several other types of bacteria that can lead to forms of pneumonia, but most have the same basic side effects and symptoms as those mentioned above.
While forms of bacterial pneumonia will respond well to treatment with antibiotics, viral pneumonia does not. There is are a plethora of viral infections that can quickly turn into pneumonia, including rhinovirus, adenoviruses, influenza (commonly referred to as “the flu”), respiratory syncytial virus (also known as RSV), and the virus known as parainfluenza. Depending on the intensity of the viral infection, the likelihood of a virus progressing to pneumonia may be high or low.
Another form of pneumonia is fungal pneumonia, which also has different causes. Fungal pneumonia is caused by fungi that infect one or both lungs, typically through inhalation of spores. Two main types of fungi can cause pneumonia: opportunistic and endemic fungi. Fungal pneumonia is a rare type of pneumonia; travelers often contract this version when in regions where endemic fungi are present. The resulting condition, Valley Fever, has symptoms like high fever, rash, harsh coughing, headaches, and muscle aches. Patients with compromised immune systems are at even greater risk of developing fungal pneumonia.
Nosocomial organisms are organisms that are acquired in a community setting and have frequently been exposed to strong antibiotics or have been exposed to them for an extended period, leading to antibiotic resistance. If these nosocomial organisms find their way into the lungs, then nosocomial pneumonia can develop as a direct result. This type of resistant bacteria can be fairly common in healthcare institutions like nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. You may also contract it when in the hospital. Have you ever heard about how you should frequently sanitize your hands, especially when at doctor’s offices or when visiting friends in the hospital? This is a prime example of why you should take this recommendation seriously.
We have all heard about why clean drinking water is so important. We also know how harmful it can be to our bodies it isn’t clean. However, did you know that doing so can also lead to pneumonia, not just a bad stomach ache? Harmful bacteria called Legionella pneumonia-philia can be found in contaminants. An infection can develop when you’re exposed to this bacteria. This can become pneumonia. This initial bacterial infection is Legionnaire’s Disease, which comes from bacteria that grow in air conditioning units that are not properly cleaned and maintained.
Although we have already discussed how bacteria is the primary cause of pneumonia, there is one bacterial condition that does deserve a special mention: bronchitis. Bronchitis is a condition caused when the bronchial tubes in the lungs become inflamed, creating a multitude of symptoms, most significantly a rattling, telltale “hacking” sound. When this bacterial infection goes untreated, or when the bacteria begin to multiply, bacterial pneumonia can readily develop. This is why it is extremely important to diagnose and treat bronchitis as early as possible.
Weakened Immune Systems
When our bodies are fighting off other infections or illnesses, it begins to take a toll on the immune system. When the immune system is in this weakened state, it makes us more susceptible to other diseases and conditions. There is even a form of pneumonia that commonly originates in this way. Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia is particularly dangerous because it generally affects both of the lungs. Because it attacks the body when it is functioning at a weakened state, it makes it that much easier to spread from one lung to the other.
Occasionally there are news reports of severe outbreaks that affect a large number of people. We’ve seen outbreaks of H5N1 influenza virus, more commonly known as the bird flu. SARA or severe acute respiratory syndrome has also become widespread. A body weakened by these outbreaks, particularly the immune system, is more susceptible to pneumonia. Of course, it is vital to treat outbreaks immediately to avoid further health complications, including pneumonia.
Smoking can be the root of so many health conditions, from the development of a chronic cough to more serious problems like lung cancer. However, did you know that smoking can also make a person more susceptible to pneumonia? Well, it is very true! Individuals with COPD, also known as a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or other lung ailments, especially when combined with smoking, can easily develop pneumonia from other sicknesses. When a person continues to smoke through illnesses, it can weaken the lungs to the point where pneumonia can quickly take hold.
When the body is malnourished, it becomes easily susceptible to a long list of sicknesses and severe health conditions. You can also add pneumonia to that list. When a person is malnourished, it leads to poor lung health. This is the perfect invitation for the development of pneumonia. Of course, many infections can turn into pneumonia. This serious condition can occur that much more quickly when the body is already malnourished. The condition can lead to many illnesses, including pneumonia.