What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus (purulent material), causing cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing. A variety of organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi, can cause pneumonia.

Pneumonia can range in seriousness from mild to life-threatening. It is most serious for infants and young children, people older than age 65, and people with health problems or weakened immune systems. 

What causes Pneumonia?

Many germs can cause pneumonia.

Pneumonia is classified according to the types of germs that cause it and where you got the infection.

Community-acquired pneumonia

Community-acquired pneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia. It occurs outside of hospitals or other health care facilities. It may be caused by:

  • The most common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae. This type of pneumonia can occur on its own or after you’ve had a cold or the flu.
  • Bacteria-like organisms.Mycoplasma pneumoniae also can cause pneumonia. It typically produces milder symptoms than do other types of pneumonia.
  • This type of pneumonia is most common in people with chronic health problems or weakened immune systems, and in people who have inhaled large doses of the organisms. The fungi that cause it can be found in soil or bird droppings and vary depending upon geographic location.
  • Some of the viruses that cause colds and the flu can cause pneumonia. Viruses are the most common cause of pneumonia in children younger than 5 years. Viral pneumonia is usually mild. But in some cases it can become very serious.

Hospital-acquired pneumonia

Some people catch pneumonia during a hospital stay for another illness. Hospital-acquired pneumonia can be serious because the bacteria causing it may be more resistant to antibiotics and because the people who get it are already sick.

Health care-acquired pneumonia

Health care-acquired pneumonia is a bacterial infection that occurs in people who live in long-term care facilities or who receive care in outpatient clinics, including kidney dialysis centers. Like hospital-acquired pneumonia, health care-acquired pneumonia can be caused by bacteria that are more resistant to antibiotics.

Aspiration pneumonia

Aspiration pneumonia occurs when you inhale food, drink, vomit or saliva into your lungs. Aspiration is more likely if something disturbs your normal gag reflex, such as a brain injury or swallowing problem, or excessive use of alcohol or drugs.

Risk Factors for Pneumonia

  • Children who are 2 years old or younger
  • People who are age 65 or older
  • Being hospitalized.You’re at greater risk of pneumonia if you’re in a hospital intensive care unit, especially if you’re on a machine that helps you breathe (a ventilator).
  • Chronic disease.You’re more likely to get pneumonia if you have asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart disease.
  • Smoking damages your body’s natural defenses against the bacteria and viruses that cause pneumonia.
  • Weakened or suppressed immune system.People who have HIV/AIDS, who’ve had an organ transplant, or who receive chemotherapy or long-term steroids are at risk.

What are the symptoms of pneumonia?

The signs and symptoms of pneumonia vary from mild to severe, depending on factors such as the type of germ causing the infection, and your age and overall health. Mild signs and symptoms often are similar to those of a cold or flu, but they last longer.

Signs and symptoms of pneumonia may include:

  • Chest pain when you breathe or cough
  • Confusion or changes in mental awareness (in adults age 65 and older)
  • Cough, which may produce phlegm
  • Fatigue
  • Fever, sweating and shaking chills
  • Lower than normal body temperature (in adults older than age 65 and people with weak immune systems)
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath

Management of Pneumonia

Specific treatments depend on the type and severity of your pneumonia, your age and your overall health. The options include:

  • These medicines are used to treat bacterial pneumonia.
  • Cough medicine.This medicine may be used to calm your cough so that you can rest. Because coughing helps loosen and move fluid from your lungs, it’s a good idea not to eliminate your cough completely.
  • Fever reducers/pain relievers.You may take these as needed for fever and discomfort.
  • You may need to stay in hospital depending on the severity of your pneumonia.
  • Respiratory Physiotherapy. Physiotherapists uses a variety of treatment and techniques to help clear secretions and maximize your oxygenation.

What would physiotherapy treatment for Pneumonia involve?

Respiratory physiotherapy is widely used in the treatment of pneumonia because it can help to eliminate inflammatory exudates and tracheobronchial secretions, remove airway obstructions, reduce airway resistance, enhance gas exchange and reduce the work of breathing.

At Respiratory Physiotherapy Ireland, Our physiotherapists will ensure you receive specialised treatment for your Pneumonia. Depending on the severity of your pneumonia your treatment may involve:

  • Secretion clearance:
    • Active Cycle of Breathing
    • Autogenic Drainage
    • Positive Expiratory Pressure (PEP)
    • Oscillating positive expiratory pressure
    • Effective / productive coughing techniques.
    • Postural drainage in sitting and lying.
    • Manual techniques, including percussion and vibrations
  • Breathing techniques:
    • Controlling respiratory rate
    • Diaphragmatic breathing
    • Relaxation breathing exercises
    • Deep breathing exercises and incentive spirometry
    • Positions of ease to decrease breathlessness
    • Paced breathing as a strategy to maintain control of breathing during exercise
  • Education and Advice:
    • Illness cause
    • Smoking cessation
    • Medication management
  • Exercise Assessment and Prescription
    • Those experiencing dyspnoea on exertion (even mild dyspnoea) may benefit from a formal exercise program. A formal exercise program generally includes aerobic and resistance training. Exercise training includes intensity, frequency, duration, type, mode and progression based on the severity and type of pneumonia

It will be important to note that the respiratory physiotherapy we apply should be closely incorporated with other health care professional’s management of the client’s needs.

Summary

Pneumonia is one of the most common health problems affecting all age groups around the world. Antibiotics represent the mainstay of pneumonia treatment, while other therapies are mostly supportive. Respiratory physiotherapy has been widely used as an adjunctive therapy for pneumonia.

Our physiotherapist will offer you personalised treatment with the aim of breathlessness management and symptom control, mobility and function improvement or maintenance and airway clearance and cough enhancement or support for your pneumonia.

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+353 86 105 5791

+353 86 105 5791

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