Pneumonia – Risk factors and classification

Before the advent of antibiotics, pneumonia claimed many lives. Antibiotics have, at least, tamed and subdued it; however, there are segments of the population who are vulnerable to and people do die of pneumonia. There are quite a few recognizable pneumonia symptoms and risk factors. A few of them have been discussed as follows.

Risk factors
Infants under 2 years and adults above 65 years are vulnerable. People who have their immune system compromised such as those undergoing chemotherapy, organ recipients, and others who are on medications and those are suffering from immune suppressing diseases like HIV/ AIDS. These people are more prone to experience pneumonia symptoms.

Pneumonia classification is on two bases. One is based on the causative agents and the other on the basis of wherefrom one got the infection. Both bacteria and viruses can cause it and the former is called bacterial pneumonia and the latter viral pneumonia. The other classification is based on the group or the locality from where the infection was acquired. This is the most common type and is bacterial, viral, or fungal. Community-acquired pneumonia is so called as the infection is picked from outside hospitals or other health centers. Hospital-acquired pneumonia is when the infection is picked up during hospitalization for other reasons. These are more dangerous as the causative agents are more antibiotic resistant. Patients on ventilators are at higher risk. Health care acquired are similar and is more drug resistant. These happen in long term health care units and outpatient departments and dialysis centers. Aspiration pneumonia is when food, drink, or saliva into the lungs. This is common in people who have disturbed gag reflux like brain injury, swallowing problem, or alcohol or drug abuse.

Pneumonia symptoms can be very deceptive. Mild forms present symptoms like cold and flu but are longer lasting. Chest pain on breathing and coughing, cough with phlegm, fatigue, fever and chills with body temperatures below normal, etc., are some of the common symptoms.

Diagnosis is done by the auscultation of the chest, chest X-rays, and laboratory tests. Treatment is generally based on the cause.

Pneumonia is no more as dangerous as it used to be. It can, however, be serious in certain groups of patients with compromised immunity and cardiac disorders.