What Causes Pneumonia In Adults

Generally, the primary cause of pneumonia among adults is bacterial and viral infections. Various types of infectious pathogens can be responsible for causing pneumonia in adults, but the most common type is Streptococcus pneumoniae, which is also known as pneumococcus bacteria. Although pneumonia can also occur due to any type of germ, bacterial pneumonia is very common.       

The streptococcus bacteria reside asymptomatically within the host body. These bacteria typically colonize the respiratory tract. The infection spreads from one individual to another via air, as pneumonia is primarily an airborne disease. When an infected individual cough, sneezes, or simply exhales, the respiratory droplets get released into the air, which contains infectious bacteria. An uninfected individual being in proximity to an infected individual inhales the droplets via air and may develop the infection.   

About streptococcus pneumonia

These bacteria are a common cause of pneumonia among adults. Indeed, they cause the disease due to transmission, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, they are also common inhabitants of the respiratory tract of healthy adults. Moreover, They can naturally exist in your nasal cavity, throat, windpipe, and lungs without causing any harm, as they remain in the passive state. It becomes problematic when they become active, gain power over your immune system and start their proliferation. They may enter the upper and lower airways and begin the damage, thereafter.   

How does pneumonia happen?  

The bacteria enter the large and small airways and do not get affected by the immune system’s response. When your immune system senses the presence of infectious pathogenic growth and development happening in your respiratory tract, it begins its action by releasing white blood cells for fighting off the bacteria. The white blood cells are responsible for destroying the bacteria and preventing any further health damage. But when the immune system fails to stop bacterial growth and multiplication, the infection can progress rapidly, thereby contributing to lung damage.  

The immune system’s action in killing off bacteria leads to lung inflammation, which causes the filling up of alveolar sacs of your lungs with fluid or pus (purulent material). The fluid, pus, and cellular debris accumulates in your lungs and give rise to breathing problems. In addition to breathing difficulties, the individual also develops different health problems. Some flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, purulent sputum, chest pain, and body ache are common during pneumonia.  

Breathing difficulties arise because the fluid accumulation in the lung affects the movement and exchange of oxygen in your bloodstream, which deprives your body of adequate oxygen. This is why when the condition worsens and the individual experience severe breathing problems and other symptoms, then they require immediate hospitalization, or else the lack of oxygen in their body can lead to life-threatening consequences.

What are the symptoms of pneumonia?

Moreover, Pneumonia symptoms vary in severity. Some people may develop mild symptoms, while others might experience life-threatening symptoms, that include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Sweating
  • Coughing that produces phlegm or mucus
  • Shortness of breath
  • Shallow breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Body ache
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache

Risk factors involved

A lung infection like pneumonia may only produce some mild health problems, as in the case of the common cold and flu. The infected person may not be aware that they have caught the pneumonia infection, they might think that they are having some cold or flu. Some individuals might experience severe symptoms of this infection, which can prove to be life-threatening. The individuals who are susceptible to the more damaging effects of pneumonia are:

  • Infants and babies
  • Older adults that are 65 and above
  • Those with weakened immune system
  • Those having chronic health conditions
  • Individuals with brain-related disorders
  • Chronic smokers and drinkers
  • Those who are recently hospitalized or have been to some healthcare center
  • Those having pulmonary disorders
  • Those who have been to overly crowded places like public transport

How is pneumonia diagnosed?

The healthcare provider will enquire about your general health, the symptoms you are experiencing, how long you have been experiencing, and things along those lines. Moreover, They will conduct your physical examination and suggest some screening tests. As per the Healthline website, your healthcare provider may suggest you get any of the below-given tests:

  • Blood test

Blood culture tests will reveal the type of bacteria, virus, or fungi, that has caused the infection. Moreover, This is necessary for prescribing the right treatment.

  • X-ray scan

Moreover, This test will generate an image of your lungs, which helps look help look for signs of inflammation and the damage it has caused to the lungs.

  • Sputum culture

The sample of your cough is collected and sent to the lab to identify the cause of the infection.

  • CT scan

A CT scan reveals a better and clearer image of lung damage.

  • Pulse oximetry

Moreover, This test will measure the amount of oxygen in your blood. Less oxygen indicates that the infection has become serious.

  • Fluid sample

This test will reveal the root cause of the infection and help in the identification of the type of germs that have caused the infection.

  • Bronchoscopy

Moreover, This test checks the airways and deep into the lungs to look for damage.  

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