Bronchopneumonia, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention, Complications

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Bronchopneumonia, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention, Complications

Bronchopneumonia is inflammation of the airways (bronchi) and the small sacs in the lungs (alveoli). This condition can cause mild to severe symptoms and is at risk for life-threatening complications.

Bronchopneumonia is one type of pneumonia, which is inflammation of the lungs due to viral, bacterial, or fungal infection. Similar to other types of pneumonia, bronchopneumonia also causes symptoms of difficulty breathing due to narrowing of the respiratory tract.

Bronchopneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia experienced by children, especially in children under 2 years of age. This condition is also the leading cause of death in children under 5 years of age.

Causes of Bronchopneumonia

Bronchopneumonia is generally caused by a bacterial infection. These types of bacteria include:

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • Escherichia coli
  • Proteus species

In addition to bacterial infections, bronchopneumonia can also occur due to viral infections, such as the COVID-19 virus, or fungal infections, such as Aspergillus fumigatus.

A person can get bronchopneumonia if he inhales these bacteria, viruses, or fungi. When inhaled, these organisms will gather in the throat and into the alveoli. Infection occurs when the organism has multiplied enough and the body's immune system is weakened. Ultimately, there is inflammation and damage to the bronchi and lungs.

Bronchopneumonia can be passed from one person to another through sneezing or coughing. Transmission can also occur when touching the surface of objects that are exposed to splashes of mucus or phlegm of the patient.

Transmission often occurs in the hospital setting in patients who come for treatment for other diseases. Bronchopneumonia that occurs in a hospital environment is also usually caused by bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.

Risk factors for bronchopneumonia

There are several factors that can increase the risk of developing bronchopneumonia. These factors include:

1. Age

People aged 65 years and over and children aged 2 years and under are at higher risk of developing bronchopneumonia and its complications.

2. Environment

Bronchopneumonia is more at risk for someone who works or frequently visits hospitals or nursing homes.

3. Lifestyle

An unhealthy lifestyle, such as smoking and consuming alcoholic beverages, can increase the risk of bronchopneumonia.

4. Medical conditions

Bronchopneumonia can be triggered by certain medical conditions, such as:

  • Chronic lung disease, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Weak immune system, for example due to chemotherapy or the use of immunosuppressant drugs
  • Chronic illness, such as heart disease or diabetes
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus
  • Cancer
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chronic cough
  • Conditions requiring the use of a ventilator

Symptoms of Bronchopneumonia

Symptoms of bronchopneumonia in adults are similar to the symptoms of pneumonia in general and can get worse over a few days. Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough with phlegm
  • Hard to breathe
  • Chest pain
  • Easy to sweat
  • Shivering
  • Headache
  • Muscle ache
  • Fatigue
  • Dazed, especially in the elderly

These symptoms will be more severe in people who have weak immune systems or suffer from other medical conditions.

While in infants and children, the symptoms can vary, including:

  • Fussy
  • Fever
  • Nasal congestion
  • Hard to sleep
  • No appetite or drink
  • Fast palpable pulse
  • Blue lips
  • Chest looks sunken inward when breathing
  • Breath sounds (wheezing)

When to go to the doctor

Immediately consult a doctor if you or your child experience the above symptoms, especially if accompanied by the following complaints:

  • Fever of 39 degrees Celsius or more
  • Hard to breathe
  • Chest pain
  • Persistent cough, especially if you cough with greenish-yellow phlegm

It is highly recommended to see a doctor for those of you who experience symptoms of pneumonia and have the following conditions:

  • More than 65 years old or less than 2 years old
  • Have a weak immune system or have other medical conditions, such as heart failure or chronic lung disease
  • Are undergoing chemotherapy or taking immunosuppressant drugs

Diagnosis of bronchopneumonia

The doctor will ask about the symptoms experienced by the patient, followed by a physical examination, namely by using a stethoscope to detect wheezing or other sounds that indicate breathing problems. The doctor will also examine the patient's chest where breath sounds are difficult to hear. This could indicate an infection or fluid in the lungs.

To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will perform further examinations, such as:

  • Chest X-ray, to detect areas of the lungs that indicate bronchopneumonia, especially at the bottom
  • Complete blood test, to count white blood cell levels which can indicate an infection
  • Blood or sputum culture, to determine the type of organism causing the infection
  • Scanning with a CT scan, to see the condition of the lung tissue in more detail
  • Bronchoscopy, to see more clearly the respiratory tract and take a sample of lung tissue for examination
  • Pulse oximetry, to measure oxygen levels in the blood

Bronchopneumonia Treatment

Mild bronchopneumonia can generally be managed at home by meeting fluid needs, getting adequate rest, and taking medication to relieve symptoms. This condition usually goes away on its own within 2 weeks.

In bronchopneumonia due to bacterial infection, treatment is with antibiotics, such as amoxicillin. Patients usually get better in 3-5 days. Keep in mind that antibiotics must be consumed until they run out according to the doctor's advice. This is to prevent recurrence and ensure the infection has cleared.

While in bronchopneumonia caused by a viral infection, the doctor will give antiviral drugs. This medication works to reduce the duration of the infection and prevent symptoms from getting worse.

In severe bronchopneumonia, treatment needs to be done in the hospital, which can include hospitalization, as well as infusion of antibiotics and fluids. If the oxygen level in the patient's blood is low, the doctor will provide oxygen assistance.

Complications of bronchopneumonia

Bronchopneumonia can cause a number of complications, according to the cause of the infection. These complications can include:

  • bloodstream infection (sepsis)
  • Lung abscess
  • Accumulation of fluid in the lining of the lungs (pleural effusion)
  • Breathing failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart problems, such as heart failure, heart attack, or heart rhythm disturbances

Prevention of bronchopneumonia

Prevention of bronchopneumonia is generally the same as preventing pneumonia, namely by the following efforts:

  • Maintain personal hygiene, for example by washing hands properly and regularly.
  • Get complete vaccinations, especially vaccines to prevent pneumonia-triggering diseases, such as the Hib vaccine, annual flu, pneumococcal, measles, and whooping cough.
  • Do not smoke so that the lungs are not damaged.
  • Keep your immune system strong by getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet.
  • Keep your body fluid intake by drinking enough water.

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