Complications of bacterial pneumonia can be severe for some, and mild for others. It depends on the overall health of the affected individual, and the extent of damage the infection has inflicted on the body.
Bacterial pneumonia can lead to serious complications if not treated on time. People who are healthy with a strong immune system are less vulnerable to contract this infection. However, some bacteria can be such that they have the potential to attack the immune system of even healthy people. But even if they do, they can be treated easily. When it comes to older adults, the situation could be worse.
What is Bacterial Pneumonia?
Pneumonia, as many of us are already aware of, is characterized by lung inflammation. Besides bacteria, the same can also be brought upon by virus, fungi or parasites; most common being bacteria or viruses. In this case, it is not just one type of bacterium that causes this infection. Some bacteria are known to trigger the infection in course of daily life (known as community-acquired pneumonia), while some are hospital-acquired pneumonia.
Under the first group, that is community-acquired pneumonia, the common bacteria species that cause the infection may include:
- Streptococcus pneumoniae
- Mycoplasma pneumoniae
- Haemophilus influenzae
- Chlamydophila pneumoniae
- Legionella pneumophila
- Bordetella pertussis
The common bacterial species that cause infections within a hospital setting include:
- Escherichia coli
- Enterobacter species
- Acinetobacter species
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Streptococcus species
Know that the infection, when contracted in hospitals, is usually more severe than the community-acquired infections. This is because the person is already dealing with an illness thus, is in a state of lowered immunity.
Complications of Untreated Bacterial Pneumonia
A severe complication of the infection may occur when the causal bacterium gets into the bloodstream of the affected person. This may give rise to an infection known as sepsis. This infection triggers the immune system of the body to react in such a way that it may cause damage to multiple organs in the body. As this condition progresses, it can cause a fatal drop in the blood pressure of the body.
Fluid may accumulate between the thin membranes that are known to provide a covering to the lungs and the membranes that line the inner surface of the chest wall. This may trigger another infection thus, worsening the symptoms, and pushing the condition itself to a more severe stage.
The part of the lungs that is attacked by the infection, can develop a type of cavity filled with pus. This occurs when the bacterium invades a lung tissue and begins to multiply. In order to fight this infection, the body responds by forming a wall around the infected part, which later gets filled with pus.
Meningitis could also result from pneumonia. The brain and the spinal cord are surrounded by membranes known as meninges. In some cases, bacteria that cause pneumonia can infect the meninges and cause them to suffer inflammation. This condition is known as meningitis.
Another severe repercussion of the infection could be difficulty in breathing. This condition deprives the body of oxygen, which may further deteriorate the condition.
These complications can turn out to be more severe for people who smoke, or are suffering from some ailment of the heart, lungs, or people over the age of 65. The best approach to avoid them, is to keep yourself from contracting the infection in the first place. This is because, although antibiotics can treat most types of bacterial pneumonia, there are some strains that have been able to develop a resistance to all such medications. That is why it is always recommended to complete the entire course of antibiotics, in order to prevent any recurrence, and reduce the chances of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Keep safe!