Pneumonia: Immune System and Tiny Air Sacs

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Introduction Every year, more than 60,000 Americans die of pneumonia, an inflammation of the lungs that's usually caused by infection with bacteria, viruses, fungi or other organisms. Pneumonia is a particular concern for older adults and people with chronic illnesses or impaired immune systems, but it can also strike young, healthy people. Worldwide, it's a leading cause of death in children. There are many kinds of pneumonia ranging in seriousness from mild to life-threatening. Although signs and symptoms vary, many cases of pneumonia develop suddenly, with chest pain, fever, chills, cough and shortness of breath. Infection often follows a cold or the flu, but it can also be associated with other illnesses or occur on its own. Although…show more content…
For example, the nasal cilia screen out a lot of organisms but can't stop all from getting into the airways. Sometimes, these microorganisms get past the body's defenses, finding their way into the alveoli. There, white blood cells (leukocytes) begin to attack the invading organisms. The accumulating pathogens, white cells and immune proteins cause the air sacs to become inflamed and filled with fluid, leading to the difficult breathing that characterizes many types of pneumonia. If both lungs are involved, it's called double pneumonia. Classifications of pneumonia Pneumonia is sometimes classified according to the cause of pneumonia: Community-acquired pneumonia - This refers to pneumonia acquired from the external environment. Hospital-acquired (nosocomial) pneumonia – Hospitals are a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, placing patients at a higher risk of pneumonia. Aspiration pneumonia - This type of pneumonia occurs when foreign matter is inhaled (aspirated) into the lungs, often from the digestive tract. Pneumonia caused by opportunistic organisms - This type of pneumonia strikes people with compromised immune systems. Organisms that aren't harmful for healthy people can be extremely dangerous for people with AIDS, organ transplantation and other conditions that impair the immune system. Emerging pathogens - Outbreaks of the H5N1 influenza (bird flu) virus and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) have caused serious,

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