Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs which can develop from bacteria, a virus, or toxins and is the sixth leading cause of death in the states. People who are at a higher risk in contracting the disease the elderly, those who are hospitalized for other conditions, those with coughs after a stroke, smokers, those who suffer with malnutrition, alcoholics, those who have bronchitis, those with sickle-cell anemia, those undergoing radiation treatments or chemotherapy, and those with AIDS.
Pneumonia is a significant sickness that commonly affects one percent of the population each year. The disease is not caused by any one thing, for it has over thirty causes that can be broken down into five major areas of cause; bacteria, viruses, mycoplasmas, pneumocystis, and chemicals.
Bacterial pneumonia affects babies and the elderly most often, those whose immunities are the weakest, including alcoholics, post-surgery patients, and those with pre-existing illnesses . When pneumonia bacteria is introduced into a healthy person’s throat it will not multiply, immunities are able to fight it off. But when defenses are down, the immune system can be ineffective in prohibiting the bacteria from multiplying and expanding into the lungs where they can be extremely destructive by causing inflammation in the air sacs. Various parts of the lungs can fill with fluid while the infection spreads to the blood stream and quickly works its way through the whole body. The most common type of bacteria that causes pneumonia is the streptococcus pneumoniae.
Viruses are responsible for up to half of all pneumonias and is the cause of respiratory infections. Pneumonia sets in when the infection moves from the upper respiratory tract into the lungs. Most types of viral pneumonia are short lived and are rarely fatal, excluding the influenza virus that can lead to death. Like bacterial pneumonia, the virus sets on and attacks the lung tissue causing the lung to fill with fluid.
Mycoplasma pneumonia is caused by minute particles that are neither bacterial or viral but act like a combination of both, identified as neither during World War II. This type of pneumonia is usually epidemic but not severe, for it is rarely fatal even if left untreated .
Fungus is believed to cause Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and is prevalent in AIDS patients. The inhalation of chemicals can cause pneumonia and have serious results, as can inhaled food or liquid .