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Bacteria, fungi can cause pneumonia: Dr Salma.

HYDERABAD -- Bacteria, viruses or fungi, or even tuberculosis can cause pneumonia, which is an acute infection in the lung, an eminent pediatrician Dr Salma Shaikh said on Friday.

She said other general symptoms of pneumonia include cough, which may or may not produce chills, fever, sweats, chest pain and shortness of breath.

Dr Salma Shaikh said that pneumonia is actually an umbrella term for an acute infection in the lung, which can be caused by any one of bacteria, viruses or fungi, or even tuberculosis.

She said that pneumonia is infection of the small air sacs of the lungs and surrounding tissues and the infection causes inflammation and deterioration of lung function. The lungs become unable to easily transfer oxygen to the blood, increasing the work of breathing, she said.

She informed that pneumonia occurs in people of all ages but it occurs far more commonly in old people and children in whom it tends to be far more serious.

She said that the pneumonia often affects only a portion of a single lung but it can affect an entire lung or even both lungs and in many old people, the lung infection spreads beyond the lungs. The infection can enter the blood, she added.

Dr Salma said about the causes of the disease that the bacteria are the most common microorganisms that cause pneumonia. However, viruses and fungi cause pneumonia as well.

She said that these microorganisms are everywhere and are inhaled into the lungs all the time. Yet pneumonia does not occur every time these microorganisms are inhaled. Pneumonia develops only when these microorganisms gain a foothold in the tiny air sacs of the lungs, she


The pediatrician said that in most cases, the diagnosis is confirmed with a chest xray and added that doctors usually obtain a sample of blood and they may try to obtain a sample of mucus that has been coughed up.

She said that the laboratory tries to make a preliminary identification of the microorganism and to grow (culture) the microorganisms present in the samples. Knowing the exact type of microorganism usually helps doctors choose better treatment options.

She said that despite these tests, the precise microorganism cannot be identified in up to half of the people who have pneumonia and when the person is severely ill and is not helped by initial therapy and doctors can try to obtain better samples, often by inserting a long flexible tube (bronchoscope) into the airways.

She said that the vast majority of old people with pneumonia are hospitalised, where they can be treated with intravenous antibiotics and older people can get very sick very fast from pneumonia and tend to respond less well to oral antibiotics.

She said that most viral pneumonia gets better without specific treatment. Pneumonia caused by unusual microorganisms, such as tuberculosis, also requires drugs that kill the organisms, she added.

Dr Salma said that the doctors usually give antibiotics immediately whenever they suspect bacterial pneumonia, even before the bacteria are identified and prompt treatment with antibiotics helps reduce the severity of pneumonia and the chance of developing complications, some of which are fatal, she added.

She said that when choosing an antibiotic, doctors try to predict which type of bacteria is likely to be the cause and the doctor often changes the antibiotic later if the type of bacteria is identified and its susceptibility to various antibiotics becomes known.
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Publication:Balochistan Times (Baluchistan Province, Pakistan)
Date:Dec 21, 2014
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