Pneumonia is a serious, potentially life-threatening lung infection that can strike both children and adults. It is the single biggest infectious killer of adults and children, with an annual mortality rate of roughly 2.5 million adults and children globally.
India accounts for 23 per cent of the global pneumonia burden with fatality rates ranging between 14 and 30 per cent.
Dr. Gautam Wankhede, Director of Medical Affairs of Mylab Discovery Solutions shares a few facts you should know about pneumonia:
* Pneumonia can be caused by a wide variety of bacteria, viruses, and fungi in the air we breathe. The infection causes inflammation in the air sacs of the lungs which leads to cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and trouble breathing.
* Both viral and bacterial pneumonia is contagious.
* Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is the most common type of pneumonia. CAP is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in India and worldwide and one of the most serious respiratory illnesses among various infections causing sepsis.
* Typical bacterial pathogens that cause CAP include Streptococcus pneumonia, Haemophilus influenza, and Moraxella catarrhalis.
* An important factor in the management of pneumonia is the early diagnosis of the causative pathogen based on which appropriate anti-bacterial, anti-viral, or anti-fungal treatment can be started soon.
* Appropriate medical history and physical examination are important parts of making a pneumonia diagnosis.
* Most pneumonia cases are diagnosed with a chest X-ray, blood culture test, and a CT scan of the chest in some cases. Bronchoscopy is advised in a few cases if the initial symptoms are severe or not responding well to antibiotics.
* Microbiological tests are not completely reliable in identifying the cause of pneumonia, and in 40-70 per cent of pneumonia cases, the cause is never determined.
* Molecular tests like RT-PCR identify a specific pathogen and help to distinguish between bacterial and viral infection and some newer molecular tests also provide information about antibiotic susceptibility. The new age RT-PCR-based molecular diagnostic kits look for the presence of 15-30 different pneumonia-causing pathogens at the same time and provide answers within 2-3 hours unlike the traditional culture methods which take 3-5 days
* In most cases pneumonia can be prevented by improving hygiene, vaccinations, and adequate nutrition and by addressing environmental factors such as air pollution. When it comes to preventing pneumonia in children, immunisation against HIB, pneumococcus, measles, and whooping cough (pertussis) is very effective besides the factors mentioned above.
This ‘World Pneumonia Day’ – celebrated annually on November 12, let’s raise awareness of the importance of diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of pneumonia.