What is pneumonia, how is it caused, and how can it be prevented?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites.  Bacteria and viruses are the primary causes of pneumonia, which is characterized by inflammation of the inveoli, microscopic sacs in the lungs that absorb oxygen.  These sacs fill with fluid, so the condition can become serious enough to cause death; often pneumonia is the cause of death in the elderly.

In the United States, more than 3 million people contract pneumonia, but only 5% succumb to death as a result of the infection.  One of the concerns of people who contract influenza is pneumonia.

There are several ways to prevent pneumonia:  Two vaccines exist to prevent the most common type, pneumococcal disease (Prevnar and Pneumovax).  Doctors recommend that people wash their hands regularly, do not smoke, avoid any spitum or cough particles from people with pneumonia, and eat healthy and exercise. 

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pneumonia can have many different symptoms. Sometimes people suffer several of them while sometimes they may experience only one. Some of these symptoms include cough, chills, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting. Usually when pneumonia is present mucus is coughed up from the lungs. People suffer from shortness of breath and sometimes an increased heart rate because of the infection. Pneumonia usually starts as an upper respiratory infection.

Chest x-rays are often used to find out if a person has pneumonia. Sputum cultures are also sometimes collected.

In addition to elderly people, young children under the age of one are especially at risk for developing more serious complications from the infection.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Pneumonia is a disease characterized by inflammation of lungs. It is caused by infection from different type of micro organisms like virus, bacteria, and fungi.  Pneumonia may also be caused by allergic reaction to inhaling irritating chemicals. Conditions like emphysema, heart disease, alcoholism, and deceases that weaken the body's resistance of infection increase the risk of getting pneumonia, and make recovery from it difficult.

Pneumonia is generally caused by the infectious micro-organism present in the air inhaled. It is also caused by the bacteria normally present in mouth, nose and throat getting into lungs. These infectious micro organisms lodge in the air sacks of lungs where the blood interacts with the air inhaled to exchange its carbon dioxide for oxygen. Here the microbes multiply quickly. To wight this infection the blood produces white blood cells, causing the air sacs to get filled with these.

Treatment of Pneumonia requires bed rest until at least two or three days after the fever due to pneumonia ends. For pneumonia caused by viral there is the main treatment. In case of bacterial pneumonia suitable antibiotic drugs are administered.

Pneumonia caused by influenza, can be prevented by influenza vaccination. Similarly pneomococci vaccines protects the body from this type of pneumonia. Such vaccinations are generally required only for patients with long term illness or who have high risk of contracting pneumonia.

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