Bacterial Pneumonia

Causes

According to (Sattar, 2018), bacterial pneumonia can come in four different categories. Including community-acquired (CAP), hospital-acquired (HAP), healthcare-associated (HCAP), and ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). CAP, the most common of the four, occurs in a community setting outside of the hospital and is usually transmitted by breathing in bacteria that live in the mouth, nose, and throat. HAP develops within 48 hours of a hospital stay for another illness. VAP occurs in people that are on a ventilator to help them breath. As in HAP, pneumonia typically develops within 48 hours of intubation. HCAP deals with nonhospitalized patients that have previously had experience with the healthcare system. Such as, residence at long-term care facility, outpatient treatment, and hemodialysis treatment. These patients were thought to have been infected with multidrug-resistant (MDR) pathogens, making them a separate category from HAP (Sattar, 2018).

The most common pneumonia causing bacteria is streptococcus pneumoniae, also known as pneumococcus bacteria (Pneumonia n.d.) The bacteria can be spread through coughing, sneezing, and close contact with an infected person. When they are inhaled by the victim and being to multiply in the lungs, specifically the alveoli. This in turn triggers the bodies natural inflammatory response. In an effort to kick out these foreign invaders, the immune system will send out white blood cells to the infected areas. When the white blood cells reach the area, they release a substance that causes vasodilation of local blood vessels causing more fluid to build up and congestion in the alveoli. The inflammatory response causes a mixture of cells, bacteria, and fluids to accumulate in the air sacs, this is what causes the signs and symptoms of pneumonia that we will discuss later.

Although, anyone is capable of contracting bacterial pneumonia there is a more vulnerable group who are at a higher risk. Infants, two years or younger, because their immune systems are still developing and older adults who are 65 years old or older due to normal changes in the immune system because of the natural aging process (Pneumonia n.d.). Immunocompromised people such as people with HIV/AIDS are also at a higher risk because of weakened immune systems. People with pre-existing medical conditions such as, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis have an increased chance of developing bacterial pneumonia. Long term smokers and excessive alcohol drinkers will also be at a higher risk, as well as those exposed to environmental factors including; pollutants, chemicals, and toxins (Pneumonia n.d.).

Signs and Symptoms

Some of the well-known signs and symptoms of bacterial pneumonia are as follows: increased fever, excess sweating and clammy skin, chest pain when breathing or coughing, severe fatigue, cough with yellow or brownish sputum (that doesn’t go away or get better), shortness of breath during routine daily activities, and feeling worse after recently having a cold or flu (Pneumonia – adults (community acquired): MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia n.d.). You may also hear crackles upon auscultation of the lungs. Duration and severity vary based on the strength of the bacteria and how quickly you are diagnosed and treated. Signs and symptoms may also change in certain special populations such as, infants and older adults. Infants may not show signs of infection and in older adults with a preexisting illness or weakened immune system may present with milder and fewer symptoms (Pneumonia n.d.). In some cases, symptoms may progress causing respiratory failure, sepsis, multiorgan failure, and exacerbation of preexisting conditions (Sattar, 2018).

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