Lungs play an important role in the uptake of oxygen. When an infection spreads in patches around the bronchi or bronchial tubes, the condition is called 'bronchial pneumonia'. It is also known as bronchopneumonia. The characteristic property of this condition is that the infection and inflammation of the bronchial tubes are not restricted to a single location. Bronchi are air canals through which oxygen is passed through during respiration. Body cells require oxygen for survival. Bronchial pneumonia leads to formation of fluid and pus in both lungs. This considerably affects the oxygen exchange that takes place in lungs. Take a look at the following section which explains why bronchopneumonia is considered as a life-threatening condition.
When only a section or lobe of the lung is infected, it is referred to as 'lobar pneumonia'. Bronchial pneumonia is a condition wherein infection spreads in the lungs. Not only one section but various sections are affected due to the infection. Those who are prone to asthma or allergies and those who smoke excessively are more likely to develop bronchial pneumonia. When a person with a weak immune system contracts pneumonia, the condition is described as 'serious illness'. As the infection spreads to one or both lungs, it can severely affect the oxygen supply to body cells. The infection can gradually infest the whole body as it can spread widely through the blood stream.
Viruses, bacteria or certain types of fungi or parasites can cause pneumonia. The bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae is the main cause of bronchial pneumonia. But other bacteria like H.influenza, Legionella, Moraxella catarrhalis, Staphylococcus aureus and even Chlamydia can cause bronchial pneumonia. If a person has a weak immune system, then an upper respiratory tract infection or influenza can lead to pneumonia; because microorganisms grow rapidly in such cases.
In severe cases, air supply to lungs can get cut off due to swollen bronchial tubes. If the condition is not treated promptly, it can prove to be fatal. When a cold or flu leads to bronchopneumonia, the condition is referred to as 'walking pneumonia'. Symptoms of bronchial pneumonia vary according to the cause of pneumonia.
If the question, 'is bronchial pneumonia contagious' is swirling in your mind right now, then here is the answer. Yes, bronchopneumonia is contagious. If one is exposed to the infectious secretions (coughing and sneezing) of the patient, one can catch the infection. Close contact with the infected person can result in transmission of the infection. Utmost care should be taken while washing the used handkerchiefs, towels and toothbrushes; or while throwing away the used tissues.
Sharing of cups, bowls, glasses, spoons and utensils should be strictly avoided. Those with compromised immune system are more likely to catch the infection. Once the patient starts taking antibiotics, chances of transmission of the infection gets reduced. During the incubation period and widespread growth of the bacteria, the infection is highly contagious.
Inflammation of bronchial tubes due to infection leads to several health complications. Swelling of these tubes, as they get filled with mucus, causes breathing difficulty. Initially, the symptoms are mild. They may be similar to the symptoms of cold and flu. Fever around 100 degrees Fahrenheit is noticed in the initial stage. Increasing fever causes both sweating and chills.
Dry cough with little or no mucus, persistent coughing, wheezing, rapid shallow breathing indicating breathing difficulty are the symptoms seen in patients of bronchial pneumonia. Sharp chest pain, especially while breathing, suggests bronchopneumonia. Blood tinged mucus is also noticed in some cases. The sputum can be greenish or rusty (blood tinged). Continuous coughing leads to discomfort and fatigue. High fever, lasting for an extended period needs prompt medical attention.
As the entire body suffers due to the effects of infection, the patient experiences abdominal pain and headache. Impaired function of other body systems lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and excessive weakness. A viral infection can cause nasal congestion and sore throat. The patient may complain about muscle and joint pain. Some patients may develop skin rash like measles. People with HIV or AIDS are likely to develop bronchial pneumonia due to fungal infections. Loss of appetite and weight loss can be noticed in these patients. Progression of pneumonia symptoms can be rapid or slow, depending upon the cause and overall health of the person.
The doctor will examine the symptoms and advise several tests like chest X-ray, blood test, blood arterial gas test, pulse oximetry, sputum test, etc. to confirm the diagnosis of bronchial pneumonia. The treatment for bronchopneumonia may vary according to the cause, severity of the symptoms and overall health of the person. Oral antibiotics or antibiotic injections can inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
Patients should consume lots of fluid to maintain the energy. In case of severe breathing difficulty, oxygen mask, intravenous administration of fluids would be required. Therefore, when symptoms of bronchial pneumonia are noticed, one should immediately consult a physician. Prompt medication and sufficient rest are important for a speedy recovery and can also prevent the condition from worsening.