“Approximately 3.7 lakh children die of pneumonia annually in India. This accounts for 50 per cent of the world’s pneumonia deaths. The condition can range from mild to life-threatening and is most serious in infants, young children, senior citizens, and people with compromised immune systems,” says Dr Satish KS, Senior consultant for Pulmonology at Fortis Hospital.
He adds that pneumonia, caused by organisms like bacteria, viruses, and fungi, is a contagious infection that inflames the air sacs present in the lungs with fluid or pus which leads to cough, fever, chills, and difficulty in breathing.
What causes pneumonia?
“Bacteria are the most common cause of pneumonia, that can occur on its own or develop after viral infections. Several different types of bacteria can cause pneumonia, including, Streptococcus pneumonia, Legionella pneumophila, Mycoplasma pneumonia and more,” points out Dr KS.
However, he adds that while viral pneumonia is often mild and subsides within a few weeks, in some cases, the severity of the condition may require immediate medical intervention.
“Fungal pneumonia is seen in people with chronic health problems or weakened immune systems which are often caused by bacteria including, Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP), Coccidioidomycosis, and Cryptococcus,” says the doctor.
What are the symptoms of pneumonia?
The signs and symptoms depend on individual cases and vary from mild to severe. Not only that, but it also depends on other factors such as the type of germ causing the disease, the patient’s age and overall health. Some of the prominent symptoms of pneumonia include:
Fever with chills and rigours
Severe cough with or without blood-tinged phlegm
How to prevent pneumonia?
“It is advisable to consult your medical professional and get the flu or pneumonia shot that can help prevent the disease,” suggests Dr KS. If you have children who are younger than two years, get them vaccinated too as soon as possible since they pose a higher risk of contracting the disease.
Make sure everyone practices good hygiene. “It is imperative to protect yourself against respiratory infections that may lead to pneumonia. Thus, wash your hands regularly and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer” says Dr KS. Lastly, get enough sleep, eat clean and exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.
“While preventive measures are essential to keep the infection at bay, consulting your medical professional in case of queries is advisable,” says the doctor.