Pneumonia and Lung nodules are both respiratory diseases that are not very uncommon and people should know whatever there is to know about them, and this also happens to be the purpose of this article while sketching the relationship between the two.
What is Pneumonia?
As described in medical terms, “Pneumonia is an infection in your lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. It can affect either one or both the lungs and basically causes inflammation in the air sacs. Fluid or pus may fill up in the lungs as a result of Pneumonia.” It may cause a cough with pus, fever, and even chills for that matter.
Some common symptoms range from cough which could even be accompanied by phlegm, chest pain, nausea, shortness of breath, fatigue, confusion, palpitations, and so forth. It is recommended to consult a doctor in case these symptoms occur, especially among senior citizens and infants as Pneumonia may prove fatal for them. The symptoms can be listed as as-
- Cough- with a yellowish or greenish mucus or phlegm
- Chest ache or overall body pain
- Loss of appetite
- Wheezing noise in breathing
Causes of Pneumonia
A person may catch this illness from his or her environment, both from the people in his/her surroundings and during hospitalization for any reason. Microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa are the identified causes of Pneumonia that occurs without hospitalization.
In the other case, ventilators and particles in the air that are breathed and not coughed out may be the antecedent factors. These particles may include food particles, vomit, saliva, and drinks.
Differentiating Between the Common Flu and Pneumonia
Now, a complication arises when it comes to differentiating between the common flu and Pneumonia, however, they are certainly different both in terms of the cause, certain symptoms, and the risk they pose. Common flu is a viral infection while Pneumonia can either be viral or bacterial.
By Shafin_Protic/ Pixabay CopyrightThe symptoms also differ such that flu usually has limited ones like cold, cough, fever, and body ache whereas the latter has a bigger number of symptoms which have already been mentioned above.
Likewise, flu can be treated relatively easily and has lesser complications insomuch as Pneumonia, especially bacterial really requires quick action in diagnosis and treatment because of the complications that it poses.
Complications of Pneumonia
It is best to also be educated about some of the possible- but not necessary- complications of Pneumonia, which are more often than not caused by Bacterial Pneumonia
Pneumonia puts the patient at an increased risk of developing Chronic Kidney Disease(CKD). If you are wondering what CKD is, it refers to a condition in which a person’s kidneys are damaged and are unable to perform their function of filtering blood as well as they should in a normal human being, and it can very well lead to Renal failure in which the kidneys are not able to function at all let alone functioning properly. In fact, it is not a one-sided affair since Chronic Kidney Disease brings the patient the risk of Pneumonia.
It refers to an accumulation of fluid in the pleural cavity that covers the lungs and chest cavity in the form of a thin membrane. Pleural Effusion can actually lead to death. Its symptoms encompass dry cough, fever, pain in the chest, and shortness of breath while lying down.
As the name suggests, this condition doesn’t allow the patient to breathe on his own. It develops when there is not sufficient oxygen in the blood. Acute Respiratory Failure often happens suddenly and without warning and takes the person’s life. However, it may also develop gradually, known as Chronic Respiratory Failure. The symptoms include shortness of breath, extreme tiredness, inability to move actively the way you could earlier, and drowsiness. Patients diagnosed with this disease often require a ventilator.
“A lung abscess is a pus-filled cavity in your lung surrounded by inflamed lung tissue.” Common symptoms include chest ache, fever, and cough which produces mucus, a foul smell, and even blood at times.
Bacteremia and Sepsis
Now, Bacteremia and Sepsis are two similar yet different conditions. Bacteremia is the presence of Bacteria in the bloodstream. In healthy people, it may heal on its own, while on the other hand, it may also cause an infection which in one of its severe forms can lead to Sepsis. Sepsis can even lead to organ failure and death. Common symptoms include fever, chills, shaking, rapid breathing, heart rate, and so on.
This is when air escapes to the outside of the lungs and fills up the gap between the lungs and the chest wall. Following this, the lungs do not have enough space to expand the way they should for inhalation. Common symptoms include sharp pain in the chest, shortness of breath, and widening of nostrils. Even though it is a rare complication of Pneumonia, it still is very well possible to develop this condition in a Pneumonic patient
Treatment of Pneumonia
Usually, patients suffering from Pneumonia require hospitalization and great care.
- Antibiotic treatment- an active antibiotic treatment can help in curing pneumonia. This is required if the cause of the illness is bacteria. The antibiotic medicine chosen by the doctor may vary from case to case depending on the type of bacteria diagnosed.
- Cough medicine- it is often used to provide relief from the excessive cough that bothers patients. Calming the cough down helps the person to rest which is crucial for recovery. However, the cough is actually important since it helps to get the fluid inside your lungs moving and out of your system.
- Fever medicines and painkillers- these help in providing relief to the patient from the continual discomfort.
Prevention of Pneumonia
Prevention is better than cure and Pneumonia can be cured through various methods which can be described as follows-
- Vaccination- Vaccines are available for preventing Pneumonia. You can contact and consult your doctor regarding these vaccines and get them for yourself and your family to prevent this disease.
- Mandatory vaccination for children- Several vaccines are compulsory for infants and these do include Pneumonia vaccines. Ensure that your child receives these on time especially since Pneumonia is much more prevalent amongst children and the elderly.
- Practicing good hygiene- Good hygiene is important not only to prevent this disease but also many others and it is even crucial for reasons that may not be related to health.
- Don’t smoke- Smoking turns out to be the one thing that every cardiologist tells you to stay away from. It is obvious that not only cardiologists but every other doctor would advise you to not smoke- and it is not just about cigarettes but also vaping and hookahs.
- Maintaining a strong immune system- Intake of a properly balanced diet, drinking enough water, and getting sufficient exercise help you strengthen your immune system. Make sure that you eat fruits, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and everything else that comes under the categorization of healthy. Also, get moving every day, avoid sitting and lying down throughout the day, and take a walk if you cannot indulge in a proper workout or yoga session. In fact, dancing proves to be a great exercise so why not just turn the music up and get your body grooving?
What are Lung Nodules?
A lung nodule is an abnormal growth in the lungs. A suspicious lung mass could turn out to be a lung nodule. They may be singular or plural in number. They are also known as Pulmonary nodules. Basically, they are clusters of cells in the lungs which are usually a kind of scar tissue of a previous lung infection.
Even though most Lung nodules are not cancerous, some could be. Whether or not they are cancerous can be identified by examining whether their size remains constant or grows. If they are small pulmonary nodules and is not growing it probably is not cancerous lung nodule and may even be left untreated.
However, even if they are not an underlying condition of cancer, they may still pose the complication of blocking your air passage and require treatment for the patient to be able to breathe properly again. Chest CT scan is a requirement from time to time to keep an eye on the nodules. In the event that they are large and growing, some further pulmonary nodule evaluation would be suggested to check if it is cancer.
Along with most lung nodules not being a sign of cancer, they are very common and a majority of adults when getting chest x-ray or CT scan, find them present in their lungs, most of the diagnosed lung nodules are benign and we have already got various guidelines and prediction models trying to help us to distinguish between benign lung lesions and malignant pulmonary nodules. However, when present, conducting chest CT scans frequently is recommended.
Causes of Lung Nodules
- Current and Past infections- people suffering from or those who have previously suffered from infections affecting the lungs like tuberculosis(TB), pneumonia, or fungal infections may cause lung nodules. Scarring in the lung tissue from inflammation from these infections is what generally takes the form of nodules.
- Noninfectious Inflammation- infection is not necessarily the precedent of inflammation, it may be caused by other reasons, and whatever the reason behind the inflammation may be, it can still lead to their formation.
- Non-cancerous tumors- several lung tumors can be noncancerous and still give rise to lung nodules.
Symptoms of Lung Nodules
Like every other medical condition, lung nodules can be spotted in the initial stages of diagnosis before consultation by a qualified medical professional the patient himself by looking at some symptoms. A few of the symptoms can be mentioned below-
- Chest pain that worsens with deep breathing, laughing, coughing
- Chronic cough
- Coughing up blood
- Hoarse voice
- Loss of appetite
- Unintentional weight loss
- Shortness of breath
- Back pain
- Recurring respiratory disease
Now, evidently not each and every human on planet Earth is equally prone to developing a disease, some may have a stronger immunity in general or maybe a stronger immunity for a set of diseases and illnesses given the differences in environmental conditions, medical history, dietary patterns et cetera, then people may even differ in this regard in the context of factors like age.
- Certainly, smokers are at a high risk of developing this condition. Not only the people who smoke are exposed to the risk but also people who receive secondhand and thirdhand smoke are at risk.
- Other than cigarette smoking, even inhaling dust and smoke and various other pollutants in the air can cause these. Thus people living in polluted cities or industrial areas are prone to the disease.
- People who have previously suffered from respiratory disease are also in the high-risk category since healed infections are the prime causal factor behind pulmonary nodules. In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, chest X-rays and CT scans were widely recommended by doctors to patients who had been diagnosed with the virus upon the healing of their illness. This was the very reason for such advice by the doctors as Covid-19 was also leading to lung nodules among people.
- With increasing age, the immune system tends to weaken and the elderly become more vulnerable to catching any sort of disease let alone pulmonary nodules. Upon reaching the age of 60 if not 50, people should especially take care of their health and work towards maintaining their immunity and strength.
- Genetics plays an important role in determining your bodily state yet again. People who have a family history of lung cancer have an increased risk of developing these nodules.
Treatment of Pulmonary Nodules
Most benign lung nodules may be treated using a number of ways which are mostly related to surgical removal. Malignant lung nodules also have their own treatment methods.
- A large incision may be made by the surgeon through your ribs for accessing your thoracic cavity. This is known as an Open Thoracotomy. After this surgery, a thin tube drains fluid from the patient’s body for several days at a stretch.
- A video-assisted thoracic surgery(VATS) may also be performed which involves a thin tube- a thoracoscope- with a camera being used to look inside the patient’s chest, using which as a guide, the surgeon may perform his task.
- With the present times’ technological advancement, this surgery may also be conducted with the help of a robot. Herein, the surgeon makes an incision and inserts a small robotic arm through it, into your chest, and then guides this arm to do its task of dealing with the lung nodules. It is recognized as a minimally invasive surgery. This is known as Robotic Arm Thoracic Surgery(RATS).
- Stereotactic body radiotherapy may also be used. This involves the usage of radiation beams to destroy the nodules. Yes, you got it right, this is similar to the procedure used in treating cancer and is in fact used for smaller cancerous lung nodules that is, small cell lung cancer.
- Radiofrequency can also destroy lung nodules by generating the correct amount of heat.
What’s the Link Between Pneumonia and Lung Nodules?
Lung infections or respiratory infections are the primary cause of lung nodules, and Pneumonia is not excluded from the list of these pulmonary diseases, it can cause lung nodules
Therefore, Pneumonia much like most respiratory diseases is a dangerous one and an individual must try his or her best to prevent it. We must take necessary steps like educating ourselves and our families about the disease. Once we are successful in doing so, we can even act as responsible and active members of society and move forward in raising awareness in the community about it.
It is critical that people must be in the know of such a disease which can be caught on rather easily and cost us so much in life. If people are aware of the symptoms, causes, and consequences, they can actively introspect and self-diagnose themselves initially and take the next important steps in treating the disease. Also understanding the treatment options and procedures helps in moving correctly and reducing stress about the illness.
As far as pulmonary nodules are concerned, people also need to develop an understanding of these, not only in the context of pneumonia as a causal factor but in general, especially with the rise of the global pandemic of Covid-19 since 2020.
These are diseases that can cost people their entire lives, families could be left alone and grieving. Even other than death being a possibility, treatment of these, especially hospitalization can cost a fortune, particularly in bigger private hospitals. At the end of the day, we have only ourselves to look after our bodies and we must try our level best to not fail in doing so.