The thought of pneumonia can be scary. While the statistics of pneumonia fatalities are improving, it is still considered a very serious illness. In the United States alone, pneumonia is responsible for 1.1 million hospital stays lasting 5 days or longer. It is most serious in adults over 65 and infants. Pneumonia is often a bacterial infection of the lungs, but around one-third are viral. Pneumonia vaccinations greatly reduce the risk and are on the rise among elderly adults. This article will help you understand pneumonia, how to deal with it, and how to prevent it.
What is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a lung infection caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. It is usually a secondary infection stemming from infection elsewhere in the body, usually the upper respiratory tract. This happens because the nose and upper respiratory tract normally take care of germs before they get to the lungs. There are certain circumstances that may cause them to get down there anyways including weakened immunity to infections, an overwhelming upper respiratory infection with a large amount of germs, or a pre-existing condition like, asthma.
When an upper respiratory infection turns into a lower respiratory infection, inflammation sets in and the body sends in white blood cells to try to combat the germ invasion. The lungs form excess mucus to try and protect the tissues from damage and they become overwhelmed with fluid. This lowers the amount of oxygen sent into the bloodstream and can cause complications.
You can get pneumonia in one or both lungs or in just a tiny part of one lung.