Bacterial Lung Infection

Bacterial infections can lead to several health complications, especially if they affect the lungs. Here, we shall discuss some such infections.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Jan 23, 2018
Sick Woman Coughing in Bed
Infections caused by bacteria are called bacterial infections. Lung infections are often of this type. Several lung diseases, such as tuberculosis, bacterial pneumonia, chronic bronchitis and asthma, are/can be caused by bacteria. One of the FAQs about bacterial infections is 'Are they contagious?'. The answer is, it depends on the type of infection that affects you. Bacterial lung infection can cause severe health concerns if not treated early. A chronic lung infection is certainly one of the most dangerous ailments, as it gradually reduces the vital capacity of our lungs to take in oxygen.
There are several possible modes of bacterial entry into our body, primary of which is through air, i.e., our breath. Sometimes, bacterial infections are caused due to pollution or contamination of foods or drinks. Moist areas favor the growth of bacteria. Depending on an individual's immunity towards bacterial invasion, the body responds to bacterial infection. Inhaling pollutants, toxic gases, dust and other harmful substances weakens the lung capacity, makes our immune system weaker and hence, makes us susceptible to the onslaught of pathogens.
Bacterial lung infections are usually manifested through symptoms such as cough, chest pain, sore throat, fever, etc.
Diseases Caused
The following are a few of the major lung diseases caused by bacteria. It is important to know about them and do our best to avoid them.
Tuberculosis (TB)
Caused by the eponymous bacterial species Mycobacterium tuberculosis, TB is a dangerous chronic lung infection. It affects the efficiency and oxygen-carrying capability of our lungs. A person affected by TB shows symptoms like persistent cough, discolored or blood-tinged sputum, erratic episodes of pain in the chest, as well as discomfort during breathing. This infection takes a long time to surface and is usually mistaken for flu or common cold at the onset. TB is a contagious disease, spreading when an affected person sneezes or coughs. A person suffering from TB must use separate personal items like utensils, handkerchiefs, clothes, etc.
Bacterial Pneumonia
Pneumonia is the medical term for lung inflammation, particularly affecting the alveoli. It can occur due to several different reasons, one of which is bacterial infection in lungs. Bacterial pneumonia is caused due to the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. The primary symptoms are cough and fever accompanied by shaking chills, fatigue, shortness of breath and chest pain. In elders, pneumonia can also cause confusion.
Acute Bronchitis
Although acute bronchitis is usually caused by viruses, bacteria such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydophila pneumoniae and Bordetella pertussis contribute to about 10% of cases. It is an inflammatory condition concerning the bronchi. Symptoms include cough, which is often productive.
Prevention and Precautions
Lung infections, especially those of the bacterial kind, must be given adequate medical attention. This is essential because lung infections advance faster in their subsequent stages, which are often more difficult to treat. Hence, an early medical intervention is necessary. Antibiotics are prescribed to people suffering from lung infections. However, an expert medical practitioner must be consulted before taking antibiotics, as some people may be allergic to some medications and the doctor knows better than anyone else as to which type of antibiotic should be used in a particular situation. Symptoms like persistent, wheezing cough or oddly colored sputum must not be mistaken for a common cold or fever and neglected.
Maintaining personal hygiene is essential in avoiding the spread of bacterial infection in the lungs. A person suffering from bacterial infection must also ensure that his/her meals are as per the prescribed diet. A poor diet may nullify, or even oppose, the effects of the treatment. As bacterial infection in the lungs is majorly caused due to inhaling polluted air, it's advisable to use nose filters while traveling. Treating bacterial infection in the lungs requires a holistic approach, taking into consideration all the facets of the disease.