Dubai: Marking World Pneumonia Day on November 12, UAE doctors joined the world in raising awareness about the illness that claimed millions of lives every year.
Dr Arun Arya, head of department and consultant pulmonology, NMC Royal Hospital, Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi, told Gulf News: “Pneumonia is an infection in the lung, which causes inflammation of the air sacs in one or both lungs, this leads to solidification of infected area. The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus [purulent material], causing cough with phlegm [mucus] or pus, fever, chills and difficulty in breathing. Pneumonia can be caused by a variety of organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi.”
“You may suspect having pneumonia if your common cold or flu symptoms persist and get worse. The sign and symptoms of pneumonia vary from mild to severe, depending on factors such as the type of organism causing the infection, your age and overall health,” he said.
Dr Arya continued: “You may have cough with phlegm [mucus], yellow – brownish or green, fever [more than 38C], sweating and shaking chills, chest discomfort/pain and fatigue, shortness of breath, altered mental sensorium or confusion.”
Dr Gihan Salah El Din Othma, consultant pulmonologist, Saudi German Hospital Dubai, said the complications of pneumonia include lung abscess, bacteraemia and pleural effusion (also called ‘water on the lungs’ - it is a build-up of excess fluid between the layers of the pleura outside the lungs).
Patients with uncontrolled diabetes, underlying heart failure, weakened immune system, receiving chemotherapy or other immune suppression medication are at increased risk of complications from pneumonia which can quickly become a life-threatening condition sometimes.
Dr Ahmed Elmansoury, consultant, pulmonology at NMC Royal Hospital, Sharjah, said treatment of pneumonia should be done immediately. The main treatment for bacterial pneumonia is antibiotics. The patient should also rest and drink plenty of water. If diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia, the patient should take antibiotics immediately.
Most patients with pneumonia (bacterial) are treated at home with oral antibiotics. Patients who are confused, dehydrated, have difficulty in breathing, low blood pressure and above age of 65 years (CURB-65) are at increased risk for complications and may need to be hospitalised.
Doctors strongly advice: “Practise good hygiene. Wash hands often with soap and water to get protected from germs. There is a vaccine available against the most common type of bacterial pneumonia. But the pneumonia vaccine is not recommended for everyone. Ask your doctor if you need it. Get a flu vaccine every year.”
To help prevent the infection from spreading, be careful to cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing, and throw away tissues immediately after use.
Doctors also recommend quitting smoking.