Bronchopneumonia is a severe type of pneumonia affecting one or both lung lobes. Is an acute inflammation of the lungs and bronchioles due to the spread of infection from the lower respiratory tract to the upper respiratory tract. Unlike pneumonia, bronchopneumonia may require different treatment, and different medical attention. The severity of the disease depends on the type of bacteria that caused the infection or disease, and the overall health of the person affected.
The causes of bronchopneumonia
If a person is suffering from bronchopneumonia, the bacteria invade the lungs, and an inflammatory immune response takes place. This reaction causes lung exudates to fill the alveolar sacs.
Bronchopneumonia can be contacted when certain bacteria enter the lungs. Among the bacteria that cause this condition, we can find Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. When bacteria infect the lung lobes, lungs produce mucus which fills the alveolar sacs. This process causes a phenomenon called “consolidation” that occurs when the lungs are filled with mucus, reducing the space needed for breathing. Reducing the space required will cause shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
This condition can also be a side effect (complication) of a disease or situation such as:
• viral infections ( influenza, measles)
• aspiration of food or vomiting
• bronchial obstruction by a foreign body, neoplasm, etc.
• inhalation of poisonous gases
• major surgery
• severe chronic diseases
Bronchopneumonia affects mostly elderly and children, as they have a low resistance to body function and a weak respiratory tract defense.
Bronchopneumonia starts suddenly, and symptoms can change from day to day. Among the specific manifestations, are:
• shortness of breath
• chest pain
• presence of mucus or bloody or yellow sputum.
In some situations other events might occur:
• confusion – especially in older people
• excessive sweating and clammy skin
• loss of appetite
• low energy
• sharp or stabbing chest pain that gets worse from deep breathing or coughing.
The doctor will diagnose bronchopneumonia auscultation technique and by evaluating the patient breathing with a stethoscope. In some cases it may be necessary to realize, to confirm the diagnosis, these tests: chest radiography, complete blood count, measurement of blood gases to see if enough oxygen in the blood reaches the lungs or sputum culture and there is fluid in the space surrounding the lungs.
Bronchopneumonia is a bacterial infection. Therefore, it is necessary to treat with antibiotics such as amoxicillin or erythromycin or other macrolide antibiotics administered orally and pay attention during the recovery. Along with the antibiotics prescribed by a physician, patients should drink plenty of fluids to smooth secretions and facilitate their removal. Also, the patient must rest enough.
Hospitalization is not usually necessary, unless the manifestations are severe or if there are other circumstances that could contribute to complications such as old age or poor health of the patient.
However, people who suffer from other serious diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, kidney disease or diabetes, these antibiotics are recommended for the treatment of bronchopneumonia:
• doses of amoxicillin or amoxicillin with clavulanate plus a macrolide antibiotic
• cephalosporin plus a macrolide antibiotic.
If the treatment is followed correctly, the bronchopneumonia will disappear in four to six weeks, although each case varies depending on the severity of the infection, the patient’s age and general health. Patients will notice improvement of symptoms in three to four days after treatment, but must follow the exact recommendations of the doctor and treatment until the end.
At home, the fever can be controlled with NSAIDs or acetaminophen. Do not use medicines to treat the cough without doctor’s approval.
If not treated properly, various complications may occur:
• spread of pathogens in the bloodstream
• affecting the pleura – pleurisy, pleural effusion or pleural emphysema
• recurrent pneumonia affecting other pulmonary areas
• chronic pneumonia
• cardiovascular disease
• breathing disorders
• thromboembolic complications due to bed rest
• acute renal failure due to dehydration.
Ways to prevent
The best way to prevent bronchopneumonia is frequent hand washing with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom, after coughing, after changing the baby’s diaper or after going through public places.
Disinfectant gels for the hands may be used when soap and water are not available. Quitting smoking will help reduce the risk of contracting pneumonia as well as leisure compliance program that will maintain strong immune system.
Also equally important is following a healthy and balanced diet based on eating fresh foods. This will be the fight against germs and bacteria that cause pneumonia.
In some cases, especially in children and the elderly, your doctor may recommend vaccination.