Saturday, April 13, 2024

All you need to know about acute pneumonia disease Rita Tinina succumbed to

Pneumonia is one of the most highly reported disease incidents in Kenya. Between 2017 and 2021, health data from the Economic Survey 2022 shows that a total of 8,668,911 cases were reported and recorded in health facilities across the country.

The highest number of pneumonia cases in the five years on record was in 2021 when a total of 2,152,687 cases of pneumonia were reported at health facilities. These high numbers of infections trigger high numbers of deaths due to pneumonia.

What is pneumonia?

According to the World Health Organization, pneumonia is a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs.

“The lungs are made up of small sacs called alveoli, which fill with air when a healthy person breathes. When an individual has pneumonia, the alveoli are filled with pus and fluid, which makes breathing painful and limits oxygen intake,” the WHO cites. Although this disease is more lethal in children, it can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages.

Causes

There are three primary causes of pneumonia that have been listed by the WHO. These are viruses, bacteria and fungi. Out of these, the most common cause is Streptococcus pneumoniae.

“This is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in children,” cites the WHO. “Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is the second most common cause of bacterial pneumonia.”

The WHO also states that the respiratory syncytial virus is the most common viral cause of pneumonia. “In infants infected with HIV, Pneumocystis jiroveci is one of the most common causes of pneumonia, responsible for at least one quarter of all pneumonia deaths in HIV-infected infants,” the WHO states.

Transmission

Pneumonia has various ways through which it uses to transmit. According to the WHO, viruses and bacteria that are commonly found in the nose or throat can infect the lungs if they are inhaled.

“It also spread via air-borne droplets from a cough or sneeze. At the same time, it may also spread through blood, especially during and shortly after birth,” the WHO adds.

According to the Centre for Disease Control, the bacteria and viruses that most commonly cause pneumonia in the community are different from those in healthcare settings. The CDC says that there are three modes of pneumonia. These include:

  1. Community-acquired pneumonia:  This is when an individual develops pneumonia in the community setting.
  2. Healthcare-associated pneumonia: This is when an individual develops pneumonia during or following a stay in a healthcare facility.
  3. Ventilator-associated pneumonia: This is when an individual develops pneumonia after being put on a ventilator.

Symptoms

Symptoms of pneumonia vary according to the type of cause. For example, an individual who has viral pneumonia may exhibit more symptoms that an individual who has bacterial pneumonia.

Revealed: Rita Tinina’s last moments, illness suffered before sudden death

If you have a child under the age of five years, the WHO says that you should seek medical attention immediately if your baby has a cough, difficulty breathing, fast breathing, wheezing and lower chest wall in-drawing.

This is regardless of whether they have or don’t have fever. “The chest moving in or retracting during inhalation is a sign of the presence of pneumonia. In a healthy individual, the chest expands during inhalation.

Very severely ill babies may be unable to feed or drink and may also experience unconsciousness, hypothermia and convulsions,” cites the WHO.

The general 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

Prevention and Treatment

According to the CDC, among children, it is important to have your baby vaccinated against pneumonia. “Vaccines can help prevent infection by some of the bacteria and viruses that can cause pneumonia,” the CDC states.

According to the Kenya Expanded Programme Immunization Schedule, the pneumococcal vaccine (PCV 10) should be administered in babies at Week 6, 10, 14.

This vaccine is administered on the right outer thigh at a dosage of 0.5mls and protects against the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae which is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in children.

Incidentally, by 2010, Kenya did not have a pneumococcal vaccine in the national childhood immunization schedule. The country introduced the PCV 10 (also known as Synflorix) vaccine which is tailor-made to protect against 10 common strains of S. pneumonia in 2011.

When treating pneumonia, the WHO recommends for the use of antibiotics prescribed by qualified health professional for mild cases of pneumonia, and hospitalization for severe cases of pneumonia.

For some older adults and people with heart failure or chronic lung problems, acute pneumonia can quickly become a life-threatening condition. It’s especially important that people in these high-risk groups see a doctor:

  • Adults older than age 65
  • Children younger than age 2 with signs and symptoms
  • People with an underlying health condition or weakened immune system
  • People receiving chemotherapy or taking medication that suppresses the immune system

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