Pneumonia is an acute infection of the lungs that is caused by many different kinds of germs. Usually the inflammation is caused by a bacterial infection, but it can also be caused by a virus, fungus, or parasite. Infected lungs leak fluids and shed dead cells that clogs up air sacs and makes it hard for the lungs to do their job of getting oxygen into the blood. So, without enough oxygen, none of the cells in the body work as they should.
Although pneumonia can often be treated and cured, the Philippines still has a large number of pneumonia cases which makes it the leading cause of mortality in children aged 5 years and below.
Some may not know this, but pneumonia can be transmitted in so many ways. It can be spread by inhalation of viruses and bacteria, bloodstream infections and newborn contact with contaminated substances during delivery. Pneumonia can also be caused by virus through inhalation of contaminated airborne droplets from someone else’s cough or sneeze which makes it contagious. Pneumonia is considered a communicable disease because the pathogens which cause it are found in the respiratory droplets. These droplets are the ones being expelled when someone coughs or sneezes. Experts say that pneumonia spreads when other people come into contact with these droplets, whether the contact is direct or via airborne particles. These droplets contaminate the mouth or breathing tract of another individual that eventually infect their lungs, or worse, may cause pneumonia.
The approximate time when pneumonia becomes contagious varies with the type of infecting agent and may range from one to two days to weeks. In addition, some pneumonias are more highly contagious than others. For example, some organisms are highly contagious, but other types require optimal conditions to spread to another person and are weakly contagious.
Viral and bacterial pneumonia have similar symptoms, although there may be more symptoms with viral pneumonia, which include cough and difficult breathing, flaring of the nostrils, grunting with every exhalation, fever, cough, shortness of breath, fast heartbeat, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and chest pain that worsens with coughing or inhaling, these indications are usually not as bad as those caused by bacterial pneumonia.
Though almost everyone is prone to pneumonia, it is most common to those with weaker or compromised immune systems, such as elderly people, cigarette smokers, alcoholics, and people suffering from other diseases such as flu. It is a mild disease, but some forms are very dangerous.
The best way to prevent pneumonia is by having immunization against pathogens that cause this disease, adequate nutrition and zinc supplementation.
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