Etymologically, pneumopathy characterizes a “lung infection”. However, this term is more widely used to testify to an infection in the respiratory system.
Pneumopathy, what is it?
The different forms of pneumopathies
- the infectious pneumonitis , defined by an upper respiratory tract infection by a virus, bacterium, parasite or fungus;
- The aspiration pneumonia , which is characterized by inhalation of gastric contents (from the stomach) or oropharyngeal (since pharynx). This liquid is deposited in the larynx or in the lower airways (trachea, bronchi, bronchioles, etc.);
- the interstitial lung disease , which is in turn, an infection of the interstitial tissue (membrane covering the lungs);
- the pneumonia , a term used in connection with an infection in the alveoli;
- the bronchitis , as the name suggests, this is an infection of the bronchi;
- the bronchiolitis , an infection this time, the bronchioles;
- The bronchopneumonia , affecting both the bronchi and alveoli.
All these forms of pneumopathy can be acute or chronic . The acute form then bears witness to obvious, brutal signs whose evolution is both known and curable. The chronicity of a given pathology is related to signs that appear insidiously, progressive development of symptoms, unpredictable changes and episodic pain.
Causes of pneumonia
The pneumopathy can be of different origins: infectious, interstitial or immunological. The causes of the disease can then be viruses, bacteria, parasites or fungi.
The bacterium mainly responsible for pneumopathies is pneumococcus ( Streptococcus pneumoniae ). But we can also mention: Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella, Legionella, Chlamydiae, etc.
Pneumopathies of viral origin are very numerous and often identified in winter, at the time of the flu peak. The influenza virus is then part of the viruses responsible for this type of pathology.
Other origins of the disease are also known. This is, for example, pneumopathy resulting from irradiation (often of therapeutic origin). Particularly in the treatment of cancer, by the use of X-rays. But also the development of pneumopathy by intoxication via the inhalation of hydrocarbons or other toxic substances. In the latter case, are more concerned, people hypersensitive to inhalation of dust, cigarette smoke, etc. (pneumonitis immunological).
The oral route is therefore the main route of entry for infectious agents responsible for pneumonia.
The symptoms of pneumopathy
Depending on the contaminant, the symptoms may be different. In addition, depending on the characteristics of the patient and his general state of health, the clinical aspects may be more or less serious.
Nevertheless, among the main symptoms of the disease, we can mention:
- a feverish state , with a relatively high fever (39-41 ° C);
- of chills , fever often a consequence of the underlying;
- a cough (dry or oily depending on the type of contamination);
- r a sibilant espiration and shortness of breath ;
- of chest pain ;
- an increase in the heart rate ;
- Of nausea and vomiting .
Risk factors and contagion of pneumonia
The risk factors for the development of pneumopathy are mainly related to exposure to the infectious agent (virus, bacteria, parasite, and fungus). But also chronic exposure to dust, toxic substances for the respiratory tract (sulfur dioxide, fine particles, ozone, etc.), air pollution, or even cigarette smoke.
Some categories of people are more at risk of developing this kind of disease. Among these we can mention:
- infants and young children , for whom the development of the respiratory system is sometimes incomplete and whose immune system (to fight against infectious agents) is not fully developed;
- the elderly , for whom the general physiological state has deteriorated with time and for which the immune system is weakened;
- immuno-deficient people (with underlying conditions, such as AIDS ) whose immune system is deficient;
- Smokers , more exposed in view of tobacco consumption and contact with cigarette smoke.
The diagnosis of the pathology is based on the clinical examination of the patient beforehand: interrogation, study of the respiratory tract and the symptoms felt. An X-ray of the respiratory tract can also prove to be interesting and necessary in the confirmation of the diagnosis of the general doctor.
Bacteriological analysis, for example from mucus sampling, may be prescribed in suspicion of a bacterial infection. The blood test also provides more information on the origin of the symptoms as well as the validation of the prognosis.
Other examinations may also be prescribed in this context: computed tomography, spirometry, bronchoscopy, etc.
Treatments and prevention
In the context of a pulmonary infection, with a well-identified bacterium, the treatment is generally identified with antibiotic therapy.
In the context of a viral infection, the use of antibiotics is, in most cases, inappropriate.
Other medications can also treat pneumonia, including corticosteroids to limit inflammation or some drugs to alleviate symptoms.
Oxygen therapy or mechanical ventilation can also be prescribed for more serious cases, whose respiratory problems are important.
Finally, hospitalization is often the last resort, when the clinical signs worsen and the X-ray shows significant damage to the respiratory tract.
The prevention of the disease lingers by a way of life limiting the risks (to limit the exposure to the tobacco, to avoid the physical activities and / or sporting during periods of peaks of pollution, to wear a mask within the framework of an activity with exposure to toxic agents or dust, etc.)
Vaccination against influenza can also prevent pneumonia. Indeed, the influenza virus is one of the agents at the origin of the development of this pathology.
It is also advisable to consult your doctor at the earliest as soon as you notice the significant signs of pneumonia and the sensation of respiratory problems.