Health A to Z Last updated on 2022-02-04 22:59:14
Types Of Pneumonia: What You Need To Know
- Dr. Sreelekha Daruvuri
- 3 Min Read
- Fact Checked
Our respiratory system not only helps us breathe but also keeps the disease-causing microbes at bay. Infections can occur at any part of the respiratory system - it could be in the nose or pharynx region commonly called Nasopharyngitis. If it occurs in the bronchi, it could be bronchitis or bronchiectasis. If it happens in the alveoli and/or bronchi, it can lead to Pneumonia. There are various types of Pneumonia, with similar symptoms, but with different causative factors and organisms.
Types of Pneumonia
Pneumonia can affect any individual but there are certain risk factors that can make one prone to infection. This includes children that are less than 2 years of age and individuals who are above 65 years and those who smoke or are diagnosed with lung conditions like cystic fibrosis.
There are different ways to classify the types of pneumonia: based on a causative organism, based on where the infection was acquired, and based on the location of the infection.
Based on the causative organism:
(1) Bacterial Pneumonia: Different bacterial organisms can cause Pneumonia, but the most common of those organisms is Streptococcus Pneumoniae. Other organisms include Haemophilus Influenzae and Legionella. Usually, Bacterial Pneumonia occurs in individuals who have a weakened immune system which makes it difficult for the lungs to fight the bacteria. Individuals who consume alcohol, have had surgery, or have respiratory infections that affect the local defense mechanism of the lungs are prone to bacterial pneumonia. (2) Viral Pneumonia: Certain viruses can affect the lungs. Usually, a viral infection starts as a flu-like illness. Almost 1/3rd of Pneumonia cases are due to viruses and viral pneumonia is more common in children. They are usually mild but in a few cases, they can get severe and cause lung failure. (3) Fungal Pneumonia: This type of pneumonia is due to fungal spore inhalation and these are not contagious because spores are formed outside the body. Fungal infections are common in immunocompromised individuals or someone with lung diseases and are uncommon in normal individuals. (4) Atypical Pneumonia: This is caused by Mycoplasma, a bacteria-like organism and the symptoms are usually mild with cough and breathlessness.
Based on where the infection was acquired:
(1) Community-acquired Pneumonia: Infection is acquired outside a hospital/health care facility. This is the most common type of Pneumonia and it can be due to a bacterial, viral or fungal infection. (2) Hospital-acquired Pneumonia: Infection develops during a long-duration hospital stay. This can be a little complicated because the person’s sick and usual medication will not work due to antibiotic resistance (3) Ventilator-associated Pneumonia: This happens in individuals who are on ventilators for a long time leading to compromised local defenses and the organisms which are usually the habitants of the normal respiratory system cause infection. (4) Aspiration Pneumonia: This type of Pneumonia occurs in individuals who have been affected with a stroke where the food substances enter the food pipe as the protective closure mechanism is not working well, leading to inflammation and infection of the respiratory system.
Based on the location of the infection:
(1) BronchoPneumonia: occurs in the bronchioles and surrounding respiratory units. (2) Lobar Pneumonia: affects a particular lobe of the lung.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol - Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly - Follow respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene - Vaccination: Bacterial and Viral vaccines are important to get especially in individuals who are more prone to getting the infection like children and elderly individuals.
There are two different types of bacterial vaccines available which cover up to 13-20 most common strains that lead to Pneumococcal Infection. - Hib vaccine: This protects against Haemophilus influenzae that can cause Pneumonia along with Meningitis and sepsis. - Viral vaccines: COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccine as these illnesses can also lead to Pneumonia.
If there is suspicion of Pneumonia, contact an infected individual or if you are experiencing respiratory conditions such as chest pain, severe mucus-filled fought, fever, and difficulty breathing, consult with a general physician or a pulmonologist to prevent complications and start an appropriate customized treatment plan.
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