Pneumonia and Asthma: Overview, Complications, and Treatment

The onset of pneumonia, aggravated by an asthma attack, may lead to further complications that when left unchecked, could be serious and sometimes fatal.

Pneumonia Facts
Pneumonia, an inflammatory medical condition, is characterized by an infection that attacks the wall tissues of the lungs. The pathogen, Streptococcus pneumonia, may be found in many healthy individuals. But a compromised or impaired immune system could sometimes cause the bacteria to proliferate and wreak havoc to the infected individual.

During the first stages of the infection, what might seem as a common cold can progress into high fever and sore throat. At this stage, the body's immune system begins to react by producing antibodies that fight the bacterial infection. However, the body's natural reaction to expel the bacteria, which is characterized by the overproduction of mucus or sputum, could possibly lead to blockage of the lung tissues. This is manifested by shortness of breath as less blood and oxygen find their way through the lungs.

Asthma Information
In stark contrast with pneumonia, asthma, which is characterized by the constriction or blockage of the bronchial walls, is actually an allergic reaction that may be caused by allergens or in some cases the bacterial infection itself.

During an asthma attack, the immune system of an individual goes into a frenzy, causing the bronchial walls in the lungs to constrict, further blocking the normal flow of air. The lungs become deprived of oxygen and so does the whole body. The lack of oxygen eventually manifests:

- a bluish skin color, especially in the limbs of the individual
- feelings of tightness in the chest
- wheezing breath sounds
- nausea
- and in severe cases, fainting or loss of consciousness

When left untreated, the most severe cases of asthma may eventually lead to death caused by the lack of oxygen.

Serious complications arise when pneumonia progresses into an asthma attack. As bacteria proliferate inside the lung tissues, the body's immune defenses react by flooding the lungs with mucus. What makes the situation worse is the constriction of the air passages. To make up for the lack of oxygen entering the body, the lungs exert more effort as characterized by the individual gasping for breath.

Treatment
To alleviate the medical complications, a step-by-step treatment is administered, initially targeting the ability to breathe easier by administering bronchodilators. This will help release constriction caused by the asthma and allow for better movement of air in and out of the lungs.

At the same time, the bacterial infection will be addressed with antibiotics. Because it is the infection itself that triggers the overreaction of the body's immune system, the administration of antibiotics will gradually eliminate the bacteria from the body.

 


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