Relation between Pneumonia, Respiratory Tract Infection and Asthama

To understand this relation, you need to understand what these are and how they affect the human body. A brief introduction is given below to each of the terms with the common symptoms.

Asthma:

It is a chronic condition where the affected one always has to carry an inhaler, as the airways, responsible to carry air to the lungs, are narrowed and inflamed. This increases the sensitivity of the airways; as a result, when they react to the environment or get triggered, they swell even more and become narrower. Additionally, mucus is also produced and the muscles around the airways also tighten, therefore, combining all these factors, the air is not able to flow properly to the lungs and makes the person suffering from shortness of breath.

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Symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Chest Tightness
  • Wheezing
  • Breathing Trouble

How it’s triggered?

  • Tobacco Smoke
  • Dust Mites
  • Air Pollution
  • Pollen
  • Respiratory Infections
  • Physical Activity which causes heavy breathing like running
  • Cold Air
  • Allergic Reactions to some foods

It is a life-long disease. Till date, there is no permanent cure for it.

What is Pneumonia?

It is an infection in lungs because of any virus, fungi or bacterial attack. It creates difficulty in breathing. The initial symptoms include a cough (with or without mucus-phlegm), fever, pain in the chest, sweating, difficulty in breathing, chilling effect, faster heart rate, tiredness or weakness,  nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. There are many types of Pneumonia: Bacterial, Viral, Mycoplasma/Walking or Fungal Pneumonia. It is most contagious, can be acquired through many ways:

Hospital-acquired Pneumonia (HAP): It affects one in the medical institution.

Community-acquired Pneumonia (CAP): Outside the medical institutions

Ventilator-associated Pneumonia: People at Ventilator acquired it.

Aspiration Pneumonia: You inhale the bacteria from saliva, drink or any food.

There is no age bar to catch this disease. In fact, infants are the easiest target for it.

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What tests are required to confirm the disease?

Physical Examination, Chest X-ray, Blood Test, Sputum Test, Pulse Oximetry, Urine test, CT scan, Fluid Sample and Bronchoscopy

Treatment: It is a curable disease and can be cured with the help of antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal drugs. As it causes infection in lungs, it creates difficulty in breathing. Even the cough and mucus increase the chances of shortness of breath.

Pneumonia can cause lower respiratory tract infection. On the other hand, Upper Respiratory Tract infection is the most common disease seen in the people of every age.

What is Upper Respiratory Tract Infection?

The most common infection is URT Infection. Another common name used for it is Common Cold. It is a contagious disease and can be passed easily through a cough or sneeze. The virus or bacteria present in the air can be inhaled by any person and catch a Common Cold.

The main symptoms include a cough, sneezing, fever, nasal breathing, sore throat, nasal discharge, nasal congestion/stuffy nose or a runny nose.

Some less common symptoms include a headache, shortness of breath, hyposmia, foul breath, sinus pain, itchy or watery eyes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches.

There is usually no need of any medication, as it stays between 3-14 days and then the person becomes normal. But if the symptoms stay even after 14 days, diagnose is required to test for severe infections like Sinusitis, Allergy, Pneumonia or Bronchitis.

In case of younger ones, there is a risk of even Rheumatic Fever or Epiglottitis, if the symptoms are present even after 2 weeks.

 

Common Causes:

  • Physical contact or handshake with the infected one.
  • Smoking
  • Contact with a person; with a state of the compromised immune system such as organ transplant or HIV.

Relation Between all the three:

All the three diseases are related to lungs and breathing issues. Science has been searching for their links. As per a report of Dr. Kenneth Lam, pneumonia occurred in childhood does not show any symptoms of asthma or any other infection after 18-20 years.

In case of RTI also, common cold does not lead to asthma attacks in future, if taken proper care of.

Therefore, in a normal scenario, neither pneumonia nor RTI can result into asthma infections in later years, but under certain critical circumstances, it can happen.

Asthma is not something one can have after 20 years only, according to NHLBI report in the US, out of 25M asthma patients, 7M are children, and most children are under the age of 5, according to AAAAI.

Chances under which RTI and Pneumonia can turn into Asthma:

  • The children having Respiratory Tract Infection if shows symptoms of Wheezing while breathing or coughing, have chances to develop asthma later in life.
  • Streptococcus Pneumonia Bacteria, the Influenza Virus, and the Respiratory Syncytial Virus are the most common microorganisms, which cause pneumonia. These don’t cause Asthma. Although, Walking Pneumonia or Mycoplasma is similarly less severe if persists for a longer duration, even after recovery from pneumonia, can show chronic inflammation that is linked with Asthma.
  • RSV Infections and HRV (Human Rhinovirus) has many similarities to acute asthma.
  • A new term Asthma-Pneumonia is used to describe their relationship. As per the latest research, it is possible that a person with asthma can show symptoms of pneumonia as well because of the drugs used to treat asthma.

Summing up, the result shows that neither Pneumonia nor Respiratory tract Infection (Upper or Lower) is life threatening, but if the bacteria or the infection remains in the body, in the airways, it can cause a life-long non-curable disease-Asthma.

In addition, the treatment or the drugs provided to manage asthma can also raise the chances of Pneumonia. The research is still going on and scientists are finding more deep connections of these infections.

If you detect any of the symptoms in your body, don’t ignore it and consult your physician because a healthy life is a happy life.

 

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