Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a serious infection of one or both lungs in which fluid and damaged lung cells fill the air spaces in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Pneumonia can be caused by a viral, bacterial, fungal or Mycoplasma infection, but can also be caused by anything that obstructs the bronchial tubes such as a tumor, or inhaled objects like peanuts or small toys. These obstructions can trap bacteria, viruses, or fungi, causing pneumonia.

The offending organisms trigger a significant inflammatory defense response. Bacterial pneumonias are usually associated with clogging of airways and air chambers by acute inflammatory cells, while viral infections are generally associated with invasion of the walls of the alveoli by a different type of inflammatory cells and these cause the so called interstitial (in between tissue) pneumonia.

The severity of pneumonia depends on a number of factors including how dangerous is the infecting organism, the amount of exposure and your general health. Having the flu may make it easier for other organisms to infect the lungs.

Symptoms begin about 15-25 days after being exposed to an infected person, and develop gradually over the course of 2-4 days. Typical symptoms may include fever, shortness of breath, severe shaking chills, excessive sweating, sore throat, a cough that may or may not produce mucus, malaise and occasional chest pain. Symptoms may persist for a few days to more than a month. As pneumonia progresses breathing becomes rapid, shallow and painful, the heart rate increases, and the skin may turn bluish in color.

Mycoplasma

Walking or atypical pneumonias are pneumonias that are caused by less common microorganisms, and most of them are caused by Mycoplasma, an extremely tiny microscopic organism related to bacteria.

Mycoplasma pneumonia affects primarily adults below 40 years of age and children. Mycoplasma infections occur year round but are more common in late summer and fall. Mycoplasma pneumonia is infectious and is spread through contact with droplets expelled from the nose and throat of affected people when they sneeze or cough.

Generally the transmission of the disease requires a relatively prolonged close contact with an infected person, and most transmissions occur within families. However, every 4 to 8 years, Mycoplasma pneumonia epidemics may occur and involve as many as 50% of all pneumonias.

Occasionally, the Mycoplasma pneumonia may be associated with a painful ear infection, anemia or skin rashes. The disease is usually relatively mild, but occasionally individual symptoms may be quite distressing with the patients feeling generally much worse than they look. Diagnostic tests may reveal increased concentrations of certain immune substances (cold agglutininns) but a definite diagnosis of Mycoplasma infection, requires more complicated serological tests which are not usually done unless they are part of a research protocol or for diagnostic purposes of suspected epidemics.

Immunity after mycoplasma infections does occur but it is not life long and its exact duration is unknown. Recurrent infections are usually much milder than the original episode.

Currently there are no vaccines for the prevention of Mycoplasma infection and the only way of averting the associated walking pneumonia is to avoid being exposed to the sneezing or coughing of infected patients. An untreated Mycoplasma pneumonia, in most cases will resolve spontaneously, but may easily drag on over a couple of months or more.

 


Signs, symptoms & indicators of Pneumonia

Symptoms - Metabolic  

Having chills from an illness



Counter Indicators
Symptoms - Metabolic  

Absence of 'chills'



Symptoms - Respiratory  

Recent/chronic nonproductive cough



 

Chest pain when breathing out or chest pain when breathing in or chest pain when breathing

The pain of lobar pneumonia often begins as a general sense of pressure and aching, usually localized to one side of the chest. The pain begins around the time of the chills heralding the onset of the infection. Later, as the process affects the pleura (tissues around the lung), pleuritic pain develops. Patients with atypical pneumonia or bronchopneumonia may complain of a central burning sensation provoked by coughing.

A chronic cough may result in breathing pain without pneumonia being present.



 

Recent/chronic productive cough

Bacterial pneumonia involves a cough that usually produces rust-colored or greenish mucus. Viral pneumonia often produces a dry cough at the beginning, which usually becomes worse and produces a small amount of mucus.



 

Sudden shortness of breath or air hunger



Counter Indicators
Symptoms - Respiratory  

Absence of air hunger



 

Lack of productive cough




Conditions that suggest Pneumonia

Addictions  

Current Smoker

Smokers often have a chronic cough which is unrelated to a lung infection labeled pneumonia.




Risk factors for Pneumonia

Infections  

Mycoplasma Infection

Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a common cause of community-acquired pneumonia, and the disease usually is of gradual onset. The prolonged paroxysmal cough seen in this disease is thought to be due to the inhibition of ciliary movement, since the organism has a filamentous end that allows it to slip between cilia within the respiratory epithelium.

The organism has a selective affinity for respiratory epithelial cells, and it produces hydrogen peroxide, which is thought to be responsible for much of the initial cell disruption in the respiratory tract and for damage to erythrocyte membranes.

Infections with Mycoplasma pneumoniae result in pneumonia in only 3% of cases yet 77% do involve the upper respiratory tract. Although mycoplasmal pneumonia can occur at any time of the year, outbreaks tend to occur in the fall.



Nutrients  

Vitamin A Requirement

See the link between Cystitis and Vitamin A Deficiency.




Pneumonia suggests the following may be present

Infections  

Mycoplasma Infection

Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a common cause of community-acquired pneumonia, and the disease usually is of gradual onset. The prolonged paroxysmal cough seen in this disease is thought to be due to the inhibition of ciliary movement, since the organism has a filamentous end that allows it to slip between cilia within the respiratory epithelium.

The organism has a selective affinity for respiratory epithelial cells, and it produces hydrogen peroxide, which is thought to be responsible for much of the initial cell disruption in the respiratory tract and for damage to erythrocyte membranes.

Infections with Mycoplasma pneumoniae result in pneumonia in only 3% of cases yet 77% do involve the upper respiratory tract. Although mycoplasmal pneumonia can occur at any time of the year, outbreaks tend to occur in the fall.




Recommendations for Pneumonia

Action  

See a Doctor at Earliest Opportunity

By listening to your lungs, a health care provider can tell if there is restricted breathing or a buildup of fluid.



Botanical  

Cayenne Pepper (Capsicum frutescens)

Cayenne may have some supportive activity as an antimicrobial to help control infections such as pneumonia.



Diet  

Dairy Products Avoidance

Some people feel they need to avoid milk and other dairy products as these make their mucus thicker and more difficult to expel from the lungs.



 

Increased Water Consumption

Don’t forget to continue drinking at least 8 cups a day of water during the infection.



Digestion  

Bromelain

In a clinical study of 124 patients hospitalized with chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, bronchopneumonia, bronchiectasis, or pulmonary abscess, those receiving bromelain orally showed a decrease in the volume and pus-like quality of the sputum. [J Clin Invest 1985;75: pp.456-461]



Drug  

Antibiotics

A serious case of pneumonia requires the use of antibiotics. A sputum culture will help determine the responsible organism and assist in antibiotic selection.



Mineral  


Physical Medicine  


Key

Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Strongly counter-indicative
Very strongly or absolutely counter-indicative
May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended

Glossary

Bacteria

Microscopic germs. Some bacteria are "harmful" and can cause disease, while other "friendly" bacteria protect the body from harmful invading organisms.

Virus

Any of a vast group of minute structures composed of a protein coat and a core of DNA and/or RNA that reproduces in the cells of the infected host. Capable of infecting all animals and plants, causing devastating disease in immunocompromised individuals. Viruses are not affected by antibiotics, and are completely dependent upon the cells of the infected host for the ability to reproduce.

Acute

An illness or symptom of sudden onset, which generally has a short duration.

Malaise

A vague feeling of bodily discomfort, as at the beginning of an illness. A general sense of depression or unease.

Anemia

A condition resulting from an unusually low number of red blood cells or too little hemoglobin in the red blood cells. The most common type is iron-deficiency anemia in which the red blood cells are reduced in size and number, and hemoglobin levels are low. Clinical symptoms include shortness of breath, lethargy and heart palpitations.

Chronic

Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.

Ciliary

Often Ciliary activity: Activity of the eyelashes or any hairlike processes (cilia).

Peroxides

Free radicals that are by-products formed in our bodies when molecules of fat react with oxygen.

Cystitis

Inflammation of the urinary bladder.

Vitamin A

A fat-soluble vitamin essential to one's health. Plays an important part in the growth and repair of body tissue, protects epithelial tissue, helps maintain the skin and is necessary for night vision. It is also necessary for normal growth and formation of bones and teeth. For Vitamin A only, 1mg translates to 833 IU.

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