written by: Lashan Clarke
• edited by: Diana Cooper
• updated: 3/30/2011
This article will describe pneumonia in detail along with its ability to potentially trigger asthma. It will discuss the symptoms and treatment of pneumonia and sudden onset asthma.
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Pneumonia is a medical condition in which an infection enters the wall of the lungs. The infection is usually caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae. It can be found in healthy people but when the immune system is weakened, it can cause a variety of symptoms known as pneumonia.
A problem develops in the lung due to this infection. The worsening infection will first cause symptoms that resemble a cold. This infection can manifest as signs and symptoms such as a fever, chills and sore throat. This also leads to mucus and sputum production to try and remove the bacteria. However, the increase sputum production leads clogging of the lungs, shortness of breath and inadequate blood supply reaching the tissues. This can later be accompanied by pleuritic attacks in which it is painful to breathe, especially deep breaths.
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Asthma is a decrease in the lumen size of the lungs. It is commonly associated with an allergic reaction. Asthma is the condition in which a trigger will cause an immune response. This leads to the body constricting the bronchi inside of the lungs. The lung tissue will also become inflamed and painful. Therefore, asthma is seen as a way in which the body responds to a trigger using an immune response. As the lumen narrows, there is less air inside the lungs and thus less oxygen reaching the tissues.
In the presence of asthma, the heart may start pumping at an increased rate to compensate for the reduction in oxygen reaching the tissues.
The main signs and symptoms of asthma include difficulty breathing, a bluish color to the skin (especially in the periphery), pain in the chest, tightness in the chest, wheezing, coughing, lightheadedness, nausea and fainting.
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Pneumonia and Sudden Onset Asthma
One potential cause of asthma can be pneumonia. Therefore, pneumonia and sudden onset asthma occurs when the bacterial infection results in the lumen of the bronchi becoming occluded. This is the body’s way of trying to deal with the irritating bacteria that has caused the infection.
Therefore the lung rate will increase as a compensatory measure to the decrease blood supply the lung muscle is experiencing. The worsening pneumonia can lead to a further increase in asthma. This can be a life-threatening situation for some people because both lung conditions can result in a person not having the ability to breathe.
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As the asthma is occurring secondary to pneumonia it will be important to first treat the pneumonia that is causing the problem. However, in a situation such as this the most critical thing would be to make sure the person can breathe and has open airways. After they are stable, medication such as an antibiotic is given to clear up the bacterial infection.