It was unthinkable for the world in December 2019 when a cluster of Pneumonia cases with undetected cause was reported in China that the disease would grip the global world so hastily. The research found a new type of virus to be its origin named coronavirus (severe acute respiratory syndrome). The illness caused by it is COVID-19. COVID 19 has been declared as a pandemic by the WHO on 11 March 2020. The pandemic has spread to more than 210 countries and territories all over the world. The majority of the patients who contract COVID-19 will show only mild cold-like symptoms. Prof. John Wilson president-elect of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians told to ‘The Guardian Australia’ that only the most extreme cases of COVID-19 would develop severe illness that features pneumonia.
The World Health Organization defines pneumonia as ‘A form of an acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs, caused by several infectious agents, including viruses, bacteria, and fungi.’ Pneumonia is one of the significant causes of infant deaths worldwide. It killed around 15% of children all over the globe in 2019. It is one of the prime reasons for the high Infant mortality rate.
Alveoli are microscopic air-sacs, which contain oxygen. Pneumonia occurs when alveoli get filled up with pus and other fluids. It makes it difficult for oxygen to reach the bloodstream. Pneumonia induces swelling (inflammation) of the lungs and can infect one or both lungs.
The onset of pneumonia begins with an upper respiratory tract infection. After two to three days, the virus reaches the lungs blocking the smooth passage of air. The air passage gets blocked by fluids, white blood cells, and debris. It hinders the working of the lungs. This reduction in the body’s ability to take on oxygen and get rid of Carbon dioxide makes pneumonia fatal.
The common pneumonia symptoms include cough, fever, difficult breathing, sweating, high heartbeat, a general feeling of unwell, shivering, loss of appetite, and chest pain. Pneumonia can affect any age-group, but it is more common among children and the elderly due to their weak immunity. Pneumonia can be caused by viruses, fungi, bacteria, and parasites. A few active Pneumonia causing viruses include adenoviruses, rhinovirus, influenza virus (flu), respiratory syncytial virus, and parainfluenza virus. The most common cause of pneumonia is bacteria, especially Streptococcus pneumonia. However, COVID-19 is purely caused by the virus as an agent. Coronavirus causes an infectious disease that attacks the respiratory tract. The disease was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei province of China. The common symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other types of pneumonia, which include cough, fever, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms can include fatigue, muscle pain, sore throat, loss of smell, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
The chances of transmission of bacterial pneumonia are not too high. They aggravate only when the germs present in the fluid of the infected person come into contact with a healthy person through sneezes or coughs. Sharing of eating utensils, towels, handkerchiefs can ease its transmission. Viral pneumonia tends to spread more quickly than bacterial pneumonia. The COVID-19 Pneumonia is not airborne. It spreads when you come into contact with the droplets generated by an infected person through sneezes, coughs, or when they speak. It has a high chance of spreading in the first three days after the appearance of symptoms. The coronavirus can survive for up to 72 hours on surfaces.
As the adage goes, “Prevention is better than Cure.” We should talk about prevention before discussing the treatment. Pneumonia can be prevented by adequate nutrition, immunization, and by addressing environmental factors. Indoor air pollution, living in crowded areas, and smoking may increase the risk of catching pneumonia. The only prevention from COVID-19 is to stay away from the coronavirus and build your immunity to fight it. Fortunately, with timely treatment, most types of bacterial pneumonia can be cured in 1–2 weeks. ‘Viral pneumonia’ and ‘Walking pneumonia’ can take 4–6 weeks to go away completely.
Pneumonia caused by different agents requires different treatments to cure. Pneumonia caused by a bacterium can be treated simply with antibiotics at home. However, the type of antibiotic necessary for the treatment depends upon the agent bacteria. On the other hand, pneumonia caused by a virus does not respond to antibiotics. Coronavirus pneumonia is more severe because it infects all of the lungs, unlike other cases when only a small part of the lungs is infected. The response mechanism of elderly, diabetic, or sick people is not much active. Due to their impaired defense mechanism, they suffer more; thus, they require more care. As of 12 April 2020, 110,000 deaths have been reported worldwide due to the Coronavirus outbreak. So, to save humanity, we should adopt the measures recommended by the World Health Organization of washing hands frequently and maintaining social distancing.