World Pneumonia Day: Causes And Preventions


That lingering cough or those shaking chills might not be symptoms of just a common cold. These might be the symptoms of pneumonia, which is currently the number 1 killer of children under 5, claiming more young lives than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined. So on World Pneumonia Day, November 12, doctors reiterate on the need for early intervention in this totally treatable disease.

Unfortunately this preventable and treatable disease affects 155 million children under 5 and kills almost 1.6 million each year. Often the early symptoms of this respiratory infection, get overlooked and by the time the patients are brought to the hospital it is already very late. So doctors emphasize on the need for watching out for symptoms and taking the patients to the nearest healthcare facilities at the earliest.

Pneumonia is a lung inflammation caused by bacterial or viral infection, in which the air sacs fill with pus and may become solid. Inflammation may affect both the lungs, one lung or only certain lobes. In most cases it is treatable with doses of antibiotics from the doctor, but in certain aggravated cases hospital stay might be needed. In infants, babies and elderly people or those with some preexisting ailments like asthama or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases), the infection might get complicated requiring hospital stay and lengthy treatment options.

As part of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, the focus is to reduce by two-thirds the under-five mortality rate, and with Pneumonia being the causative factor in almost 20 per cent of these deaths, healthcare providers stress on the importance of tackling this preventable disease.

Causes of Pneumonia:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Mycoplasmas
  • Other infectious agents, like fungi
  • Various chemicals

 Pneumonia types-

  • Bacterial Pneumonia: Your temperature may rise as high as 105 degrees F. This pneumonia can cause profuse sweating, and rapidly increased breathing and pulse rate. Lips and nailbeds may have a bluish color due to lack of oxygen in the blood. A patient’s mental state may be confused or delirious.
  • Viral Pneumonia: The initial symptoms are the same as influenza symptoms including fever, a dry cough, headache, muscle pain, and weakness. Within 12 to 36 hours, there is increasing breathlessness; the cough becomes worse and produces a small amount of mucus. There may be a high fever and there may be blueness of the lips.

If you have viral pneumonia, you also are at risk of getting bacterial pneumonia.
Understanding the cause of pneumonia is important because pneumonia treatment depends on its cause.


  • Cough (in some cases with greenish, yellow or even bloody mucus)
  • Fever, which may be mild or high
  • Shaking chills
  • Shortness of breath, which may only occur when you climb stairs
  • Sharp or stabbing chest pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or cough
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite, low energy, and fatigue
  • Excessive sweating and clammy skin
  • Confusion, especially in older people

Risk factors:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Recent viral respiratory infection—a cold, laryngitis, flu or the like
  • Difficulty in swallowing, due to stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or other neurological conditions
  • Chronic lung disease canpredispose
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Other serious illnesses, such as heart disease, liver cirrhosis, or diabetes
  • Living in a nursing facility exposes you to infections
  • Impaired consciousness, loss of brain function due to dementia, stroke, or other neurologic conditions
  • Recent surgery or trauma
  • Having a weakened immune system due to illness, certain medications, and autoimmune disorders

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