Pulmonary Infection

    Last updated date: 13-Mar-2023

    Originally Written in English

    Pulmonary Infection

    Pulmonary Infection

    Although there are many distinct forms of lung infections, many individuals are familiar with their symptoms, which include a bothersome cough and fever. Different microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, or fungi) can cause lung infections, which can damage various parts of the lungs and airways.


    What's Lung Infection?

    Lung Infection Definition

    Lung infection is a condition where pathogenic microbe damages and inflames the airways or tissues of the lungs as a result of an immune cell gathering.

    Viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites are occasionally a cause of lung infections in the United States. Occasionally, more than one kind of microbe is to blame. For instance, bacterial pneumonia might develop with viral bronchitis.

    People of any age can get lung infections, whether they are moderate or severe, while some infections are significantly more prevalent at particular ages. Any size of bronchi, bronchioles, or alveoli may be affected, as well as the tissues that surround the lungs' airways.


    Lung Infection Names

    How a lung infection affects the lungs and airways can help distinguish between the numerous distinct forms of lung infections. There can be significant overlap even though some organisms are more likely to produce a particular form of infection. For instance, many infections can lead to both pneumonia and bronchitis.



    An infection of the major airways (the bronchi) that connect the trachea (windpipe) with the smaller airways is known as bronchitis. Although a bacterial infection may be to blame in 1% to 10% of cases, viral infections are the most frequent cause.




    The smaller airways (bronchioles) between the main bronchi and the microscopic alveoli, where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs, are all affected by bronchiolitis. It is the most frequent reason for hospitalizations of newborns during their first year of life, occurring most frequently in children under the age of two. Nevertheless, the majority of kids do not need to be hospitalized for the infection.

    Following recovery, it appears that children who have experienced bronchiolitis are more likely to experience recurrent wheeze or asthma throughout childhood and possibly into adulthood.


    Common Cold

    The majority of people are familiar with the common cold, which accounts for 30% to 50% of adult absences from work and 60% to 80% of all child absences from school. Children experience an average of six to eight colds per year throughout the first six years of life, with adults experiencing three to four colds on average.



    Although the COVID-19 pandemic made most people aware of coronaviruses, there are seven (and maybe eight) different coronavirus diseases.



    A group of numerous widespread viruses known as non-polio enteroviruses can occasionally cause lung infections. Hand, foot, and mouth disease and certain other serious infections such as myocarditis (heart inflammation), meningitis, encephalitis, and others are also brought on by this class of viruses. Cold-like symptoms include a fever, runny nose, muscle aches, and frequently a rash precede infections.



    An infection known as croup can affect the bronchi as well as the larynx and trachea, which are structures above the lungs. It is frequently brought on by a variety of viruses, such as respiratory syncytial virus and common cold viruses, although it can also infrequently be brought on by bacterial infections. A low-grade fever and runny nose are frequent early symptoms, which are then followed by the recognizable barking cough, which gets worse at night.



    One of the most well-known lung infections is the seasonal flu, which has infected the majority of people at some point. When a person coughs, sneezes, or even talks, the influenza A and influenza B viruses are transferred through droplets, making the infection extremely contagious. Some symptoms could be:

    • Chills and fever
    • Sore throat
    • Having a runny or congested nose
    • Body pains
    • Headache
    • Fatigue
    • Mild cough


    Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

    Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

    Although many people may believe that whooping cough (pertussis) is a lung illness that can be prevented by vaccination, it is still a problem, and medical professionals should be on alert for it when patients present with distressing symptoms.

    Although the infection can range in severity from moderate to severe, newborns and young children are typically the most vulnerable (around 50% of infants under the age of one year require hospitalization). Nearly one-fourth of infants and young children will have pneumonia. Consequences such as encephalitis can occur less frequently (0.3%).

    Knowing that whooping cough can develop even in those who have had all of their vaccinations, getting treatment as soon as possible to lessen the severity of the cough, and seeing a doctor if you experience symptoms are all important measures.



    Mycobacteria tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis (TB), contributes to about 8,900 active infections in the United States each year, a disease that is more prevalent in undeveloped countries. Fortunately, though, TB incidence is currently at its lowest level since records for the disease began to be kept in 1953.


    Lung Infection Pneumonia

    Lung Infection Pneumonia

    The smallest of airways, the alveoli, where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs, are affected by pneumonia. They range from a minor illnesses that may be managed at home to life-threatening infections necessitating intensive care. Pneumonia symptoms might include:

    • A profound sense of being ill
    • A cough (the cough with pneumonia can be similar to that with bronchitis)
    • Production of rust-colored or blood-containing sputum
    • Chills and high fever
    • Breathing difficulty
    • Chest pain
    • A quick rate of breathing
    • A quick pulse


    Pulmonary Infection Risk Factors

    Pulmonary Infection Risk Factors

    Although certain similar factors can increase the risk for many, if not all of these illnesses, risk factors for lung infections can differ depending on the specific infection. Common risk factors include:

    • Exposure to secondhand smoke or smoking
    • Exposure to dust or air pollution at the workplace
    • Background of allergies or asthma
    • Crowded housing conditions
    • Northern Hemisphere winter season
    • Dried-up mucous membranes
    • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
    • Facial, head, neck, or airway-related anatomical issues, including issues such as nasal polyps or a deviated septum.
    • Poor socioeconomic status
    • Malnutrition
    • Absence of vaccination

    The following risk factors are mostly present in children:

    • Greater exposure from daycare, school, or having many siblings
    • Being a male
    • Prematurity
    • Using a bottle (instead of breastfeeding)
    • Using a pacifier
    • Age (children less than age 6 are more vulnerable, and bronchiolitis occurs most frequently in children less than age 2)
    • Children whose mothers smoked while they were pregnant
    • Congenital lung and/or heart conditions

    The following additional, less frequent risk factors for lung infections:

    • Swallowing disorders (a risk for aspiration pneumonia)
    • Lung conditions such as cystic fibrosis, emphysema, alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, and bronchiectasis
    • Leukemias and lymphomas (blood-related cancers)
    • Primary immune system disorders (There are many of these diseases, with some relatively common.)
    • Immunosuppression (from drugs, cancer treatment, HIV, etc.)
    • Absence of spleen


    Pulmonary Infection Symptoms

    Pulmonary Infection Symptoms

    Regardless of the type of infection present, there are a variety of symptoms associated with lung infections that might manifest. Less common symptoms do not lessen their significance.

    • Cough. A cough can be mild or severe, dry or wet (producing mucus).
    • Mucus production. Mucus can have a bad smell or be clear, yellow, green, brown, or rust-colored.
    • Wheezing. The most frequent time for wheezing to happen is during expiration (breathing out), yet in certain circumstances, it can happen during both expiration and inspiration. Stridor is a distinct sound that is typically higher pitched than wheezing and is largely associated with inspiration.
    • Stridor is frequently seen with infections of the airways above the lungs, including epiglottitis (inflammation of the windpipe).
    • Fever. Low-grade (less than 38.3C), high, or extremely high temperatures are all possible.
    • Rigors (severe chills) or chills. These could happen while a temperature rises, and sometimes drenching sweats could happen as a fever falls.
    • Upper respiratory symptoms. Congestion in the nose, a painful throat, hoarseness, laryngitis, and headaches are frequent symptoms, particularly with viral infections.

    Other typical symptoms may include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, joint pain, and muscle pain (myalgia). Less frequently, lung infections might cause symptoms like:

    • Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
    • Appearing ill
    • Dyspnea (shortness of breath) or labored breathing
    • Tachypnea. rapid breathing: normal breathing rates vary with age.
    • When you take a deep breath, your chest pain may be sharp or hurting (pleuritic chest pain)
    • Cyanosis (bluish coloration of lips, fingers, and toes)
    • Breathing makes crackling or crunching noises
    • Confusion or falls (in the elderly)
    • Lethargy (in infants)
    • A change that causes fingers (and occasionally toes) to resemble upside-down spoons (clubbing)


    Lung Infection Treatment

    Lung Infection Treatment

    Depending on the specific infection as well as the organism causing the infection, the treatment for a lung infection may vary, however, several medications may be utilized for most infections.


    Home Remedies

    Home treatments include:

    • Using ibuprofen or Tylenol (acetaminophen)
    • Getting enough rest and staying hydrated are important.
    • Using a vaporizer with cool-mist

    While some people opt to utilize cough/cold remedies to treat symptoms, a recent study suggests that a teaspoon of honey may be the safest substitute and that it also seems to work better.


    Medical and Hospital Treatment

    Medical and Hospital Treatment

    Even while most viral infections must run their course, therapy may be beneficial in specific circumstances. Otherwise, antibiotics are typically needed to treat bacterial infections.

    Inhalers that widen the airways, as well as corticosteroids, may be advised for persons who have narrowing of the airways as a result of a lung infection (reactive airway disease).

    Oxygen therapy may be required in patients who experience hypoxia (low oxygen levels) as a result of their lung infection. A serious illness may call for mechanical ventilation or assisted breathing.


    Viral Infection

    The primary treatment for viral infections is comfort-improving supportive measures. Oseltamivir, the active ingredient of Tamiflu (oseltamivir), may lessen the severity and duration of influenza A infections when caught early. A monoclonal antibody therapy might be considered for children with bronchiolitis caused by RSV who are at very high risk.

    Many COVID-19 therapies have been attempted in the present pandemic, with some (such as steroids) being effective in lessening the disease's severity.


    Lung Infection Antibiotics

    Depending on the specific type of infection and suspected organism, a different antibiotic may be advised as the cornerstone of treatment for bacterial lung infections. The choice of utilizing oral antibiotics versus intravenous ones will vary depending on the severity of the infection. It's crucial to start taking antibiotics as soon as possible if you have pneumonia. Antibiotics are chosen based on the infection's most likely causes, but when culture and sensitivity results are available, a better antibiotic may be chosen.


    Parasitic and Fungal Infections

    Antifungal drugs like fluconazole, ketoconazole, or flucytosine may be used to treat fungal pneumonia. Depending on the infection, anti-parasitic drugs are used to treat parasitic infections.


    Pulmonary Infection Complications

    Lung infections are significant in and of themselves, but they can occasionally exacerbate other health issues or cause long-term lung problems. Patients who already have asthma may get an asthma attack as a result of viral lung infections. Lung infections are a significant contributing factor to COPD exacerbations, which can exacerbate underlying COPD. It has been mentioned that bronchiolitis in newborns and early children increases the incidence of wheezing and asthma in later childhood. There is also worry that subsequent viral lung infections could contribute to the development of COPD.



    Everybody occasionally gets a lung infection, so it might be beneficial to be aware of both common symptoms and those that indicate you should contact your doctor. Thankfully, these illnesses that frequently proved fatal in the past, in particular bacterial lung infections, are now simply treated with a course of antibiotics.

    But when speaking about these infections, the proverb "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" has never been truer. The most important objectives continue to be infection prevention (which the general public is now highly aware of), immunization when necessary, quick medical attention if something seems abnormal, and proper treatment.