Pneumonia: what causes it?
Pneumonia is a disease of the lungs, caused by Streptococcus, Staphylococcus and a number of other bacteria. The so-called lobar pneumonia is caused by pneumococcus and is the most severe and dramatic, starting suddenly and ending in a crisis. It is a very prostrating disease, and in the past has taken a heavy toll of human lives.
Signs And Symptoms of Pneumonia
- The infection begins with a severe chill.
- The temperature rises quickly and there is a pain in the chest.
- There is a short, dry, painful cough, and the rate of breathing is greatly increased.
- The patient lies on the right or left side and not on the back.
- The face becomes flushed, especially one or both cheeks fever blisters appear on the lips. – The sputum expectorated is tinged with blood.
- After the fever has continued high for several days, there is an abrupt drop, usually accompanied by abundant sweating.
- Following this the patient feels more comfortable, and, unless some accident occurs, will continue to improve and will recover in two or three weeks.
Some die before this drop in temperature. Formerly, three or four out of every ten who contracted pneumonia died of the disease
experience more difficulty in recovering from an attack of pneumonia.
Preventive Measures of Pneumonia :
- The germs of pneumonia are distributed widely. We cannot escape them, but if the body is kept strong and healthy the pneumonia germ cannot damage it.
- The natural power of the body to resist disease germs is weakened by the use of any form of wine or tobacco, lack of proper food or too much food, living in dark, poorly ventilated houses, sleeping with doors and windows closed or the head covered, sitting humped over, and by catching a cold.
- Pneumonia is spread through the discharges from the nose, through the sputum, and from coughing and sneezing.
- Pneumonia may also be contracted by using a drinking cup that has been used by others, and by breathing dusty air on the streets, or the dusty air caused by sweeping the house.
Treatment of Pneumonia:
The mortality from pneumonia has been very greatly reduced since the introduction of sulpha drugs and penicillin. Of the two the latter is the one of choice. Six hundred thousand units of penicillin per day will bring the infection under control in less than two days. If you are isolated and no doctor is available to administer the injection, you can sometimes get penicillin pills. Give about 200, 000 units every six hours or two tablets of sulpha every four hours. After two days reduce to one tablet four times a day for four to six days.
The fever drops within twenty-four to forty-eight hours. Ordinarily, the medication should be continued for at least three days following the drop in temperature. Very frequently the medication is stopped as so as the temperature falls, with the result that a few days later a relapse occurs which may be more serious than the first attack.
How Does Pneumonia Occur in Children
Pneumonia in children is different from that in the adult. In adults, pneumococci are the principal causative bacteria. The whole lobe of the lung is involved’ and becomes as solid and red as a piece of liver. Furthermore, for adults, the disease is far more toxic and lethal.
In children, on the other hand, pneumonia is usually caused by streptococcus or staphylococcus. These cause bronchial pneumonia, which involves patches of the lung through Out a lobe but does not incapacitate the hole lobe. The left lung is made up of two lobes and the right of three lobes.
Children Who are victims of this infection should be kept in bed and given penicillin or, if not available, sulpha drugs by mouth. One tablet every four hours is a reasonable dose but this should be cut down to half a tablet for infants. After two or three days the dosage should be reduced by half.
The diet and general nursing care should be the same as for any severe disease. Great care should be taken during the convalescents period to make sure that there are no draughts on the patient and, in cold weather, that the air the child breathes is warm and moist.
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The New Health and Longevity by A. C. Selmon a. The Oriental Watchman Publishing House, 1960.