What is Pneumonia and its Innovative Treatment Solutions?
Pneumonia is one of the leading causes of death among children under the age of five. In 2018, over 14 children under the age of 5 died of pneumonia every hour. About 1,29,000 pneumonia deaths occurred in 2019.
Pneumonia in older adults aged 65 and above is usually more severe. The onset of the disease is often rapid in the elderly, and the diagnosis is extremely poor in severe pneumonia, resulting in as many as one in five deaths. The older a person is, the higher the risk of developing severe pneumonia.
Since 2019, one child dies from pneumonia every four minutes, an unrecognised epidemic that has surged after COVID-19. Pneumonia is a preventable disease, but lack of access to high quality treatment solutions and education has resulted in thousands of deaths.
Here is more on pneumonia, its symptoms, causes, and available treatment options.
What is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a lung infection that can go from mild to severe, so severe that it becomes life-threatening. It occurs when an infection fills the air sacs of the lungs with fluid or pus, making it hard to breathe. It causes inadequate oxygen to reach the bloodstream.
Pneumonia can occur at any age, but infants younger than age 2 and people aged 65 and above are at a higher risk. The infection can occur in one or both of the lungs. The principal causes of pneumonia are bacterial, viruses, and fungi.
If you’ve got pneumonia from bacteria or a virus, you are more likely to spread it to someone. Other causes also include lifestyle habits like smoking cigarettes or consuming excessive alcohol.
Symptoms of pneumonia
Pneumonia symptoms vary depending on the cause of pneumonia, your age, and overall health. These symptoms develop over several days.
Here are the most common pneumonia symptoms:
Chest pain while breathing or coughing
A cough that creates phlegm or mucus
High fever and excessive sweating
Exhaustion and loss of appetite
Shortness of breath
Vomiting, diarrhoea, and nausea
Apart from these symptoms, older adults and people with weaker immune systems also experience unusually low body temperatures. Infants and newborns don’t show all signs of the infection, but vomiting, high fever, and coughing are also seen.
Causes of pneumonia
Pneumonia is caused by a variety of infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi. The most common ones are the following:
Streptococcus pneumoniae is one of the most common causes of bacterial pneumonia amongst children.
Haemophilus influenzae type b is the second most common cause of bacterial pneumonia.
The respiratory syncytial virus is the most common cause of viral pneumonia cases.
Pneumocystis jiroveci is one of the most common causes among infants infected with HIV and is responsible for at least one-quarter of all pneumonia deaths.
Diagnosis of Pneumonia
Doctors diagnose pneumonia based on the visible symptoms of a patient and also by examining their chest. Typically, chest X-rays are used to confirm if you have pneumonia or not.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell the difference between pneumonia and any other kind of chest infection. In such cases, your doctor is most likely to conduct a blood test or take a sputum sample to confirm the diagnosis.
Complications Caused by Pneumonia
Pneumonia can cause complications such as:
Bacteremia is a condition in which bacteria spread into the bloodstream. It can cause septic shock and organ failure.
Breathing Problems: Pneumonia causes trouble breathing, which reduces the amount of oxygen entering your bloodstream.
Between the layers of the tissue that line your lung and chest cavity, fluid starts building up, which becomes infected.
Lung abscess: It is a condition where a pocket of pus builds up inside and around your lung.
Pneumonia can quickly become severe, so it’s essential to get treated immediately. The most common treatment for bacterial pneumonia is antibiotics. However, antibiotics aren’t helpful if you have viral pneumonia. You will need to get a lot of rest, drink a lot of fluids, and take fever reducing medicine.
If you have severe pneumonia, you are more likely to experience complications, which can cause hospitalisation for immediate treatment. Usually supplemental oxygen therapy is required to help you breathe.
How does the Pneumonia Vaccine help?
Vaccines also help to prevent pneumococcal disease, a type of illness caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. The vaccines help to reduce the risk of pneumonia.
There are two kinds of pneumococcal vaccines approved by the FDA -
PCV13 (Prevnar 13)
Prevnar 13 vaccine is for children under 2 years old. They get 4 shots spaced over approximately one year. Adults who are advised to take this vaccine to get only one shot. The vaccine protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria that cause severe infections in kids and adults.
Pneumovax23 helps to protect against serious infections, caused by 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria and is a second vaccine only for adults
The Essential Role of Oxygen Therapy in Pneumonia Treatment
A significant number of pneumonia deaths occur due to inadequate treatment available. We can prevent thousands of deaths from pneumonia with innovative treatment solutions like high quality and reliable oxygen therapy.
Children with severe pneumonia and other patients struggling to breathe need access to safe and long-lasting oxygen solutions as a matter of life or death. In India, awareness about the available solutions to treat pneumonia and access to innovative products in the market is staggering low.
Despite the urgent requirement for oxygen therapy, access to devices like pulse oximetry and oxygen concentrators remains poor in India. Sanrai is working to accelerate the access to FDA-approved oxygen therapy solutions to every remote corner of India to prevent deaths.
Our oxygen delivery comes with expert guidance and assistance to advocate for the improved outcomes of these devices on people’s health and communicate the need for oxygen for essential treatment of pneumonia.