Pneumonia is a health condition, in which, one or both the lungs get infected, either by a virus, a bacterium, or a fungus. When a person contracts this infection, the airways and air sacs (known as alveoli) in the lungs become inflamed and get filled with fluid. As a result, the lungs are unable to function properly, making it difficult for oxygen to enter deep in the lungs from where it is normally passed on to the blood.
Thus, it can lead to serious consequences considering the fact that both these conditions lead to a deficiency of oxygen in the blood. It is observed that people, whose immune system is weak, are above the age of 65, who smoke or drink in excess, or who suffer from illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDS are much more likely to get pneumonia than other healthy individuals. To understand this health condition better, below are the causes and symptoms explained in detail, followed by the treatment options for the same.
- A person can catch bacterial pneumonia, if he gets infected by the bacteria present in the environment such as, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Haemophilus influenzae, and Klebsiella pneumoniae.
- Another cause is, when a person breathes in organisms such as Legionella pneumophila from the environment, resulting in Legionnaire's disease.
- Certain viruses, such as, the adenoviruses, rhinovirus, influenza (flu) virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and parainfluenza virus, can cause viral pneumonia.
- Allergies such as farmer's lung can produce the symptoms of pneumonia.
- Inhalation of substances such as, smoke or certain hazardous chemicals.
- Fungal infections, like, histoplasmosis, blastomycosis, coccidiomycosis, cryptococcosis, and aspergillosis, can lead to pneumonia.
- A persistent cough, which is dry initially, but later, is experienced with yellow/green/rust colored, smelly phlegm.
- Pain in the chest
- Other symptoms in adults include, fever, breathlessness, and night sweats.
- People above the age of 60 may experience confusion and difficulty in balancing
- The symptoms of fluid in lungs, also known as pleural effusion, accompanied by difficulty in breathing, is seen in patients, if their condition deteriorates further.
- If the infection spreads to the blood or other body parts, blood infection, known as septicemia occurs in patients.
To diagnose pneumonia, the doctor examines the patient for its signs and symptoms. He uses the stethoscope to check breathing sounds, checks the oxygen amount in the blood through a device, and may recommend an X-ray to find the exact location of the infection as well as its severity. Sometimes, samples of phlegm/blood are sent for testing to a laboratory. All these tests are done to ascertain which microorganism has caused pneumonia, so that, appropriate treatment can be undertaken.
For treating pneumonia, usually, antibiotics are given. If the condition of the patient is serious, he is given antibiotics through a drip. Patients, who are facing severe breathing problems are put on ventilators. Usually, after taking antibiotics, people get well within a week; however, the recovery time may sometimes stretch to two months, if the infection is severe or the immune system is really weak. Along with the treatment, complete bed rest and increasing the intake of fluids is recommended. If the pain in chest is unbearable, then to minimize it, paracetamol can be taken, but only after consulting the doctor.
Apart from pneumonia, fluid in your lungs, can also result from cardiac pulmonary edema, also known as congestive heart failure. It happens when the left ventricle is not able to pump out enough blood, which it gets from the lungs, and results in an increased pressure in the left atrium, pulmonary veins and capillaries. This causes the fluid to push from the capillary walls in the air sacs.
Thus, fluid in the lungs and heart conditions, such as congestive heart failure are inter-related. Fluid present in lungs after a heart surgery, especially that, which involves valve replacement, is a common occurrence, and is not considered something serious. As can be seen, besides pneumonia, there are many other causes behind fluid-filled lungs. Timely treatment should be undertaken, or it can become a life-threatening condition.