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Lung Infection Treatment

Lung Infection Treatment

This article lists some of the major types of lung infections, along with their treatment methods.
Medha Godbole
Last Updated: Apr 8, 2018
Lungs infections are one of the most common types of diseases, and can usually be cured entirely by taking the right medications at the right time, and are also termed as lower respiratory tract infections. Although lung infections can usually be cured completely if treated on time, they might have life-threatening consequences if proper treatment is not provided, and the symptoms get aggravated further. Pneumonia is the most common type of lung infection.

Here, we'll have a look at the major types of lung infections, along with their causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.

Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an infection of the air sacs of the lungs, caused mainly due to a bacterial infection. In this condition, the air sacs called alveoli, suffer inflammation, or the alveoli get filled by fluids. Pneumonia can result in severe sickness or even prove fatal if not cured on time. Older people, babies, and people with other diseases are more at risk of acquiring this condition.

Causes
Most of the cases of pneumonia are a result of bacterial infections, although it can also be caused due to viral or fungal infections. These germs enter the body while breathing, and enter the alveoli sacs, resulting in the formation and accumulation of fluids and pus. This condition is called pneumonia. A bacterium known as Streptococcus pneumoniae is the main cause of pneumonia.

Symptoms
Symptoms of a bacterial infection are usually more severe than those of a viral infection. A pneumonia infection due to bacteria or virus is accompanied by the following symptoms.

➤ High fever with shaking chills
➤ Cough along with mucus or sputum from the lungs, sometimes containing blood
➤ Rapid breathing and shortness of breath
➤ Weakness and fatigue
➤ Severe chest pain, especially while deep-breathing or coughing
➤ Vomiting, sweating, nausea, and diarrhea
➤ Older people may experience a feeling of mental confusion

Diagnosis
The doctor will question the patient about the symptoms experienced, and do a physical examination. He may advice a chest X-ray and/or a blood test to determine the exact nature and location of the infection, and to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment
The treatment depends on whether the pneumonia infection is bacterial, viral, or fungal, and on how severe it is. Bacterial infections are usually cured by taking the full course of prescribed antibiotics as per the instructions of the doctor. Antibiotics are usually ineffective against viral infections, but can usually be cured just by taking rest at home for a few days. Fungal infections are cured with the help of antifungal medicines. In order to take care of the pneumonia symptoms like fever, pain, and cough, some over-the-counter medications may be prescribed to provide comfort and rest. If the symptoms are severe, hospitalization may be advised, where antibiotics may be administered intravenously, and oxygen therapy may be given. In addition, some respiratory treatments may also be performed, if necessary.

Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection of the lungs. Although the lungs are the most common site for this kind of infection to happen, it can occur in any organ of the body, like the spinal cord, kidneys, or the brain. TB is contagious and can spread to a healthy person from a person infected with it. TB may be either latent or active. A latent type does not show any symptoms until it becomes active.

Causes
Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium called the Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and can spread from one person to another through the air.

Symptoms
➤ Cough along with mucus or sputum from the lungs, sometimes containing blood lasting for 2 - 3 weeks
➤ Weakness and fatigue, along with gradual weight loss
➤ Fever and sweating
➤ Chest pain
➤ Difficulty in breathing

Diagnosis
Tuberculosis is diagnosed by undergoing a blood test, skin test, and some imaging tests. Latent TB can be diagnosed by taking a tuberculosis skin test called the Mantoux test. A chest X-ray may be advised to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment
The treatment depends on whether the tuberculosis is latent or active. Treatment takes a long time and can span up to a period of more than 9 months. For latent TB, an antibiotic known as isoniazid (INH) is administered for a period of around 9 months. For active TB, the doctor usually prescribes a combination of four different types of antibiotics, given for a period of around 6 months, which might be extended to continue for another 3 - 4 months if needed. In severe cases, a surgery to remove the affected lung tissues may be required. It is imperative that the patient takes the medicines for the suggested period regularly without missing any dose.

Bronchitis
Bronchitis is the swelling or inflammation of the bronchial tubes (the air passage between the nose and the lungs). This results in swelling and formation of mucus, such that less amount of air reaches the lungs. It is termed to be acute when the mucus formation is due to a cold or a flu. Chronic bronchitis happens due to mucus forming cough, persisting over a long period of time, and the symptoms are more severe in such a case.

Causes
Bronchitis can be caused due to bacteria, virus, or any particle that may cause irritation of the bronchial tubes. Acute bronchitis is usually caused due to a virus, although bacteria, smoking, or exposure to certain particles can also result in this condition. Smoking is the main cause of chronic bronchitis.

Symptoms
➤ Swelling or inflammation of the bronchial tubes
➤ Difficulty in breathing
➤ Fever, along with shaking chills
➤ Coughing, along with mucus formation
➤ Runny nose
➤ Weakness and fatigue

Diagnosis
The doctor will question the individual about the symptoms and do a physical examination. The doctor may advise an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis. A sputum culture test may be advised to check for the presence of bacteria in the sputum of the cough.

Treatment
The mild symptoms experienced due to acute bronchitis can be easily cured at home by getting adequate rest and taking over-the-counter medications like cough suppressants and medicines for soar throat, along with consuming plenty of fluids. There is no treatment for viral chronic bronchitis, but the doctor may prescribe antibiotics in case of a bacterial infection and to prevent any secondary infection. The doctor may also prescribe cough medicines along with anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce the swelling of the bronchial tube. Quitting smoking and tobacco is the best way to prevent chronic bronchitis.

Influenza
Influenza or flu is a lung infection caused due to a virus. It is a highly contagious disease caused by influenza A, B, or C virus. It can spread by way of droplets in the air containing the virus, and due to coughing, sneezing, or through direct contact with an infected individual. It can also result into an epidemic due to its highly contagious nature. It is often confused with common cold.

Causes
Influenza can spread by way of droplets in the air containing the virus and due to coughing, sneezing, or through direct contact with the person infected with the influenza virus.

Symptoms
➤ High fever with shaking chills
➤ Weakness and fatigue
➤ Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
➤ Headache, and pain in the joints and limbs
➤ Dry cough and sore throat
➤ Itchy and watery eyes

Diagnosis
The doctor will question the individual about the symptoms and do a physical examination. The doctor may order a flu test to confirm the diagnosis. A swab from the mouth is taken and tested to identify the influenza virus. In some cases, a rapid flu test may also be advised before prescribing any medication.

Treatment
Usually, antibiotics are ineffective against the influenza virus. Some of the symptoms of this infection can be taken care of by consuming over-the-counter medications such as painkillers and cough medicines as per the prescription of a doctor. It is advisable to stay and rest at home, and avoid contact with other people. Depending on the symptoms, the doctor may prescribe the required medicines. In case the individual has a nasal congestion, the doctor may prescribe a decongestant to clear the nasal passage. Antihistamines may be suggested in case of symptoms like watery eyes, sneezing, and a runny nose, to relieve the symptoms.

There are many more types of lung infections that can be caused due to bacteria or virus. Most lung infections usually have similar symptoms. So it is very essential that one seeks professional guidance of a doctor before reaching any conclusion about the medical condition. Usually, patients suffering from any type of lung infection are cured completely and are able to resume their normal lives within a few weeks. But chronic infections that do not get cured on time can have lethal consequences. Timely treatment is a must for curing lung infections. Leading a healthy lifestyle and following a well-balanced diet, with a focus on eating food stuff containing vitamin C that helps strengthen the immune system of the body, can help prevent the risks of acquiring a lung infection.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be taken as a replacement for the advice of a medical professional.