What causes pneumonia

lung infection

Pneumonia, also known as pneumonia, is one Infectious disease of the lung tissue by different pathogens. Viruses can be the cause of pneumonia as well as certain ones bacteria such as pneumococci (particularly aggressive spheroidal bacteria), but also Mushrooms and Parasites. On the other hand, gas, dust and radiation as well as allergic reactions can be chemical or mechanical triggers of pneumonia without infection.

Transmission of the causative agents of pneumonia

Pneumonia is most commonly caused by pneumonia Droplet infection transmitted in daily life. Pneumonia acquired in this way is also referred to by specialist medicine as community-acquired pneumonia. The pneumonia developed through transmission is now one of the widespread diseases in Germany more than 500,000 people fall ill every year on it. There is also nosocomial pneumonia (acquired in hospital), for example due to long-term ventilation or lying down for a long time.

In principle one is community acquired pneumonia contagious, however, it does not necessarily lead to an outbreak of the disease after the transmission. Vaccination is only possible against pneumococci as a pathogen and is recommended for infants from two months, seniors over 60 years and people with a weakened immune system. The vaccination must be repeated after six years.

Different symptoms of typical or atypical pneumonia

At a typical course pneumonia shows characteristic symptoms such as

  • high fever,
  • severe chills,
  • purulent expectoration and
  • strong, painful cough.

However, there are also those harder to spot cold or atypical pneumonia with little or no fever, but cold sweat, dry cough without sputum, chest tightness and shortness of breath.

The typical pneumonia with a high fever and slimy sputum is mostly transmitted by bacteria, the atypical creeping or cold often by viruses. However, there is also atypical to cold running pneumonia that is triggered by bacteria such as mycoplasma and is not caused by viruses. At a atypical pneumonia the tissue between blood vessels and alveoli is particularly affected. In typical or classic pneumonia, the bacterial infection attacks the lobes of the lungs.

Pneumonia should not be confused with one that attacks the mucous membranes and trachea and not the lung tissue bronchitis. With bronchitis, the course of the disease is usually less severe and there are fewer breathing difficulties. Since the symptoms in the initial stage are similar to those of cold pneumonia, an examination by the doctor is essential for a clear diagnosis and healing therapy.

Various triggers: pneumonia caused by bacteria or viruses, fungi or parasites

In both bacterial and viral pneumonia or pneumonia caused by fungi and parasites, the majority of the pathogens penetrate the lungs through the air we breathe. Yet it happens with one Infection with viruses or bacteria does not necessarily lead to an outbreak of the disease. In addition to the Aggressiveness of the pathogens and their quantity Various factors also play a role in the person of the affected patient. A general weakness of the immune system as well as previous damage to the lungs or a weak cough reflex can accelerate the onset of the disease. Infected babies and toddlers, the elderly, bedridden and otherwise ill people are therefore more at risk than healthy people.

When making a diagnosis, it is important for the success of the treatment to have a distinguish bacterial from viral infection. Because only bacteria with a metabolism and cell wall can be effectively combated with antibiotics; such drugs that target bacterial infections are not effective against viruses. Doctors use so-called atypical viral pneumonia Antivirals one to stop and influence the replication of the viruses. The viruses responsible for viral pneumonia cannot be destroyed with drugs like bacteria. The recovery process is to be considerably strengthened here, above all by strengthening the self-healing powers with the aid of medication.

Other causes: minor epidemics from mycoplasma and transmission through water or birds

There are many ways of getting infected with the pathogens of bacterial or viral pneumonia. So solve Mycoplasma, tiny bacteria reminiscent of fungi, so-called minor epidemics, for example in schools, homes and mass accommodation. Legionella (rod-shaped bacteria living in water and triggers of Legionnaires’s disease) are dangerous in shower stalls or infected water boilers, and chlamydia (very small bacteria that live as parasites) are even transmitted to humans by birds such as budgies and parrots. The Variety of viral, bacterial or other pathogens Like mushrooms, the symptoms of pneumonia are very diverse and the course of the disease is very different.

A careful diagnosis by the doctor is therefore a basic requirement for pneumonia in order to initiate an effective treatment. If pneumonia is suspected, the attending physician ideally includes the medical history in the diagnosis and therapy. A previously damaged lung can aggravate the course of the disease and lead to severe shortness of breath as a result of a lack of oxygen. A symptom of this are e.g. blue-colored lips and mucous membranes. Liver damage, for example from alcoholism or a weakened immune system such as an HIV infection, can also worsen the course of the disease, depending on the individual case.

Diagnosis: from wiretapping and x-rays to chest CT and bronchoscopy

After this Initial meeting with the patient and the anamnese As a rule, a responsible doctor does not leave it to one (recording the medical history) Examination with the stethoscope. Especially with atypical pneumonia, the rattling noises typical of classic pneumonia due to mucus and compacted tissue in the lungs are often missing. Even with typical pneumonia, these symptoms are absent or poorly developed if the affected area is not directly behind the eavesdropped wall of the chest.

The next step will provide more information X-ray examination. Here, too, the findings can be unclear in the case of cold pneumonia and a Chest CT (Computed tomography of the chest). The lungs in the chest are depicted precisely in several layers. In order to isolate the pathogen more precisely and to adapt the following therapy to it, one is recommended in individual cases Bronchoscopy (Reflection of the airways). Some pathogens can also be detected in urine or blood.

Treatment of pneumonia

In addition to drug treatment with an antibiotic or an antiviral, attention should usually be paid to increased fluid intake, especially if you have a fever. The attending doctor will decide whether you have to go to the hospital if you have pneumonia. Lowering the fever, mechanical assistance with breathing and, if necessary, suctioning off the aspirate (cough phlegm) are other possible measures.

The Healing process and the duration of pneumonia vary and can two to three weeks or if you have severe chronic pneumonia up to three months include. In any case, careful diagnosis and treatment are important in order not to spread pneumonia, i.e. not to cure the infection properly. Then the heart and lungs are in danger, which in the worst case can be fatal. If the flu is spread, it can also lead to pneumonia.

Submit an application for rehab after severe pneumonia to RV or health insurance

If you have had very severe and protracted pneumonia with complications and lengthy bed rest or mechanical ventilation, you can apply for rehab. The goal is that Improvement of the quality of life as well as the restoration of productivity and work ability, in children of school age.

The measure is in one Rehabilitation clinic specializing in lung diseases perform and includes among other things

  • Respiratory therapy,
  • Increase in exercise capacity as well
  • Stimulation of the secretion flow for the removal of mucus.

Rehabilitation after severe pneumonia usually takes time three weeks.

For the application, submit the completed form from the RV (pension insurance) or your health insurance company together with the report from the family doctor and the treating pulmonologist. One is possible inpatient or full-day outpatient pneumological rehabilitation in a qualified rehab facility.

Last changed on: 02.11.2018

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