Lung Infections- Types, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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Overview 

A lung infection occurs when a virus, bacteria, or fungus enters your lungs, creating inflammation. Treatment may be necessary for lung infections, which can vary from mild to severe.

What are Lung infections? 

A lung infection occurs when an illness-causing microorganism, such as a virus or bacterium, damages and inflames the lungs. This happens as immune cells rush to the lungs’ airways or tissue to fight the infection.

Viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic, or fungal diseases of the lungs are possible rare conditions. Sometimes, lung infections are brought on by multiple types of microbes. For instance, bacterial pneumonia can result from viral bronchitis.

Lung infections can range from minor to severe. People at any age can get lung infections, but some types are more prevalent at certain ages. Lung infections may develop in the tissues that encircle the lungs or in various areas of the airways (such as the bronchi, bronchioles, and alveoli).

Types of Lung Infections 

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs that makes the airways inflamed. One of the most typical lung diseases is Pneumonia.

The air-holding alveoli in the lungs expand when someone has Pneumonia. Breathing may be challenging as a result. It may be deadly in extreme circumstances.

Viruses, fungi, or bacteria can bring on Pneumonia. For instance, Pneumonia can be brought on by the flu virus spreading deeply into the airways. The microorganism Streptococcus pneumoniae can bring on pneumococcal Pneumonia.

Some signs and symptoms of Pneumonia include

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Weakness

The reason for Pneumonia affects the course of treatment. For instance, antibiotics may help with bacterial asthma. Viral Pneumonia is treated with supportive care, which entails monitoring and symptom management up until the body is able to rid itself of the illness.

A person who has severe Pneumonia might need to remain in the hospital or get oxygen therapy using a mask or ventilator.

Tuberculosis

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a contagious bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB).

Some individuals carry the TB bacteria in their bodies without getting sick. However, TB frequently affects the lungs and can also affect other bodily parts.

Among the signs of TB are

  • Cough that lasts for weeks
  • Spitting blood
  • An abdominal ache
  • weakness

Influenza

The flu, also known as seasonal influenza, is one of the most typical lung illnesses. When a person coughs, sneezes, or talks, droplets released from their bodies can disseminate the influenza A and influenza B viruses. The flu is extremely infectious.

Symptoms of the flu include

1· Fever and chills

Sore throat

Nasal congestion or a runny nose

4· Body aches

Headaches

Bronchitis

An infection of the significant airways (bronchi) that connect the trachea to the smaller airways is known as bronchitis. A viral illness is the most frequent cause of bronchitis. Bacterial infections are to blame in 1% to 10% of instances.

Enterovirus

A group of typical viruses that can induce lung infections are called non-polio enteroviruses. They also cause severe infections in other body areas, such as encephalitis, myocarditis, and meningitis, which all cause inflammation of the protective layer surrounding the brain. They might also cause hand, foot, and mouth disease (enterovirus A71) (brain infection or inflammation).

Enterovirus-induced lung illnesses frequently begin with cold-like symptoms like a fever, runny nose, body aches, and occasionally a rash.

Causes of Lung infections 

Lung diseases such as Bronchitis, Pneumonia, and Bronchiolitis come in various shapes and sizes and are the major contributing factors to lung infections. Viruses and bacteria are usually to blame. Bronchitis may be caused by a variety of bacteria, including.

The influenza virus and other respiratory syncytial viruses (RSV), Chlamydia Pneumoniae, mycoplasma Pneumonia, and Bordetella pertussis are some examples of pathogens to avoid.

The following types of microorganisms often cause Pneumonia.

  • Infections caused by germs like Streptococcus Pneumonia, Haemophilus influenza, and Mycoplasma Pneumonia, among others
  • Influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  • Pneumocystis jirovecii, Aspergillus, and Histoplasma capsulatum are all fungi that may cause lung infections.
  • Immunosuppressed individuals, such as those with certain forms of cancer or HIV, or those using immunosuppressive medicines, are more likely to develop a fungal lung infection.

Common Lung Infection Symptoms 

A lung infection might have subtle symptoms or be life-threatening. Your age, general health, and the kind of illness (virus, bacterium, or fungus) are all considerations. Similar to a cold and flu, but with more severe lung infection symptoms.

Cough

Your body can get rid of the mucous produced by inflamed airways and lungs by coughing. This mucus may also contain blood. When you have bronchitis or Pneumonia, your airways may leak thick mucus in a range of colours:

1· Clear

2· White

3· Green

4· Yellowish-grey

Even when the rest of your symptoms have abated, a cough can last for weeks.

Aches and pains

Back and muscle discomfort are possible symptoms of lung infection. It is known as “myalgia.” Your muscles may swell as a complication of an illness, causing pain to spread throughout your entire body.

An itchy, watery nose

Coughing and wheezing, which are flu-like symptoms, could indicate bronchitis.

Breathlessness

One must have trouble inhaling fully in order to be out of breath. You should always get medical help if you have respiratory problems.

Tiredness

As your body struggles to ward off an illness, you’ll experience fatigue and lethargy. It’s essential to take rest and refuel.

Wheezing

The sound of wheezing or a high-pitched buzzing is typical when you exhale. It is brought on by either inflammation or airway constriction.

Lips or skin that have a blue hue

Your lips or nails might turn pale blue from a lack of oxygen.

Lung noises

One of the common signs of a lung illness is a crackling sound at the base of the lungs, it is also known as bibasilar crackles. These sounds can be heard by a clinician using a stethoscope.

Complications of Lung Infections 

A lung infection can be a severe condition, but it can also trigger other health issues, some of which can be life-threatening. Acute lung infection problems can occur immediately after becoming ill or develop over time (chronic).

Acute

Breathing issues are among the severe consequences of lung infections. Patients with asthma, for instance, may experience an asthma episode in response to viral lung infections.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients who have lung infections may experience exacerbations, which may worsen their condition.

Chronic

When an individual recovers from a lung infection, some side effects linger. For instance, infants and children who develop bronchiolitis are more likely to develop coughing and asthma later in childhood.

Concern exists that viral lung infections may contribute to a person’s chance of developing COPD.

Risk Factors of Lung Infections 

Risk factors for lung infections vary based on the type, but certain factors can increase your risk of lung problems in general.

Some of the common factors include

  • Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Malnutrition
  • A history of asthma or allergies
  • Crowded living conditions
  • Winter months in the northern hemisphere
  • Exposure to air pollution or dust at work
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Anatomical differences in the face, head, neck, or airways (e.g., nasal polyps or a deviated septum)
  • Not being vaccinated 
  • Dry mucous membranes

Less Common Risk Factors

While some of these risk factors for lung infections are less common, they’re still essential to remember.

  • Lung diseases
  • Cancer, especially blood-related cancers (e.g., Leukaemia and lymphomas)
  • Anatomical problems involving the face, head, neck, or airways
  • Secondary immunosuppression (e.g., from medications, cancer treatment, HIV, etc.)
  • Absence of a spleen (e.g., surgical removal or conditions such as Hereditary Spherocytosis)
  • Primary immunodeficiency syndromes

Treatment for Lung Infections 

The course of treatment for a lung infection relies on the underlying cause, the severity of the patient’s illness, and any coexisting medical conditions.

Lung infection home treatments include

  • Using cough/cold remedies or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines like Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Ibuprofen
  • Obtaining enough sleep and staying hydrated
  • Using a vaporizer or cool-mist diffuser
  • An ounce of honey (e.g., in a warm drink like tea)

Tips to keep the lungs healthy 

  • Exercise to breathe harder
  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid exposure to pollutants
  • Drink plenty of water and eat lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Prevent infections
  • Breathe deeply
  • Get regular health checkups to prevent lung diseases

When to see a healthcare provider? 

They may want to perform tests to determine how well your lungs are functioning, such as having you breathe into a particular device (spirometry) or having medical images of your chest taken, depending on the cause of the infection, the severity of your symptoms, and whether you have any other health conditions or concerns (X-ray or CT scan).

Summary 

Lung infections can be dangerous, particularly if they penetrate the bloodstream or spread deep within the lungs. When the latter occurs, they may harm the heart or kidneys, among other systems.Although there is no need to worry, seeking medical attention right away can save your life.

FAQ’s

What food is good for the lungs? 

Peppers, apples, pumpkin, and turmeric are some of the best foods for the lungs.

How long do lung infections last? 

Most mild lung infections improve within a few weeks.


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The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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