PNEUMONIA is an infection in one or both lungs. It can be caused by bacteria, virus­es or fungi. Bacterial pneumonia is the most common type in adults. Pneumonia causes inflammation in the air sacs in your lungs, which are called alveoli. The alveoli are filled with fluid and pus making it diffi­cult for one to breath.

Pneumonia symptoms can be mild to life threatening. The most common symptoms of pneumonia can include coughing, that may pro­duce phlegm, fever, sweating and chills. Individuals with pneumonia also show shortness of breath and chest pain. Children under the age of five years may have fast breathing called tachypnea. Infants may vom­it, experience lack of energy or have trouble drinking or eating.

Pneumonia’s classification is three folds based on the germ caus­ing pneumonia, the location in which it was acquired and how it was acquired.

Bacterial pneumonia is by far the most common and is caused by streptococcus pneumoniae. Chlam­ydophila and Legionella can also cause bacterial pneumonia. Viral pneumonia often causes pneumo­nia especially in young children and elderly people. Viral pneumo­nia is often self-limiting and last for a short duration. Mycoplasma pneumonia is caused by mycoplas­mas which are neither bacterial nor viral but have traits common to both and this type is often mild in presentation. Fungal pneumonia is often caused by fungi from soil or bird droppings.

Fungal type of pneumonia is common in people with chronic diseases or weakened immune sys­tems. Classification based on where it was acquired is either Hospi­tal-Acquired Pneumonia (HAP) or nosocomial pneumonia referring to pneumonia contracted by a patient in a hospital at least 48 to 72 hours after being admitted in hospital.

Community-Acquired Pneumo­nia (CAP) refers to pneumonia that is acquired outside of a hospital or institutional setting. Aspiration pneumonia occurs when you inhale bacteria into your lungs from food, drink or saliva. This type of pneu­monia occurs in individuals with swallowing problems or due to a se­dating effect of medication, alcohol or illicit drugs. Ventilator-Associat­ed Pneumonia (VAP) is commonly seen in high care or Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Anyone can get pneumonia, but certain people are at high risk.

Infants from birth to two years and individuals over the age of 65 years are susceptible to pneumonia infections.

People who have had a stroke, swallowing problems and those that are bed ridden and have weakened immune systems have also high risk of contracting pneumonia.

Antibiotics, antiviral and antifun­gal drugs are used to treat pneumo­nia.

Dr. Makemba Shayela Nelson – MBChB – University of Kwazu­lu-Natal, Durban, South Africa, Nesha Medical Practice.

Source: Confidente