A host of harmful substances can result in pneumonia. Bacteria and viruses that enter our body through the air we inhale are the most common causes. In most cases, the body is equipped with the ability to defend itself against these pathogens and stop them from getting into the lungs. However, some germs can sometimes assert too much power over the immune system even in an individual that is in overall good health.
There are three primary types of pneumonia, categorized based on the types of germs that incite it as well as the place of acquisition.
This type of pneumonia is the most prevalent, occurring as a result of a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. Streptococcus is the leading cause of bacterial pneumonia in the United States, which can sometimes develop following a cold or the flu.
Another common cause of bacterial pneumonia is mycoplasma pneumonia. Mycoplasma pneumonia–also referred to as walking pneumonia–usually presents itself with symptoms much milder than those of other forms of pneumonia. The reason it is called walking pneumonia is that it usually does not necessitate bed rest as it does not impact one’s ability to carry out daily activities.
The same viruses that lead to colds and the flu can also result in a case of pneumonia. In most cases, viral pneumonia is not very severe and does not require medical treatment. Young children under the age 5 are more likely to catch viral pneumonia.
Fungal pneumonia usually affects those with a pre-existing chronic condition or impaired immune systems. The culprit fungi are usually present in soil or bird excrement but also differ geographically.
Also commonly known as hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP), people catch this type of pneumonia while staying in a hospital for treatment of another condition. HAP can be more dangerous because the bacteria responsible for its rise can potentially be antibiotic-resistant and also the individuals who catch it are probably already in poor health. Those who spend time in intensive care units hooked up to ventilators are at an increased risk of catching HAP. The same risks apply to those who reside in hospices or get treatment in outpatient healthcare centers.
Aspiration pneumonia develops when food, vomit, or saliva enters the lungs. This type of pneumonia typically occurs when there is a disruption to your regular gag reflex, which can be due to brain trauma, a swallowing issue, or alcohol or drug abuse.
Anyone can catch pneumonia, but there are two demographics who are considered high-risk:
– Infants of 2 years or under
– Individuals aged 65 and over
Some other factors that increase one’s risk of pneumonia are:
Hospitalization. A hospital stay, especially being in intensive care unit and on a ventilator, increases the risk of pneumonia.
Chronic conditions. Individuals with chronic ailments such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, or COPD are at an increased risk of getting pneumonia.
Impaired immune system. Those with a condition or who are undergoing treatment that can weaken the immune system, including HIV/AIDS, organ transplantation, and cancer medications, are also at an increased danger of catching pneumonia.
Smoking. Smoking cigarettes destroys your body’s ability to protect itself against the pathogens that can lead to pneumonia.
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