Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs, and while the name hints at other affected locations, bronchial pneumonia (also referred to as bronchopneumonia) is also an infection of the lungs. What makes the condition different however is that it also affects the bronchi, unlike the more familiar form of the lung disease that only affects the lungs, known as lobar pneumonia. The lung disease is characterized by inflammation of the tiny air sacs in the lungs known as alveoli, and they can become filled with fluid or pus as a result of the infection that is causing the illness.
While caused by everything from chemicals to fungi, the two most common sources of pneumonia are bacteria and viruses. Bacterial sources illnesses are often more sudden, more severe and treated differently than viral pneumonia. For instance, it is almost always the case that antibiotics for pneumonia are used to treat those with a bacterium source, whereas for viral pneumonia, these types of medications are often not useful, and the illness has to run its course. Bronchial pneumonia can be cause by both bacteria and viruses, however just like the lobar form of the condition, the viral form of the disease is often less severe in nature.
The causes of bronchial pneumonia are the same as those of pneumonia that only affects the lungs. It is a contagious disease; therefore the transfer of germs from one person to another through fluids in the mouth and nose is the most frequent method of transmission. Additionally however, pneumonia can be acquired in hospitals, where it is often much more severe, on the job from exposure to chemicals and pollutants and also secondary to other respiratory illnesses. In many cases however, the same germs and “bugs” that are responsible for causing the cold and the flu are what give way to pneumonia. The same is true for pneumonia in children, which can commonly result following an upper respiratory infection.
Some people are however more at risk for developing bronchial pneumonia in the first place. Those that are over 65 years old or under the age of two, as well as person with existing lung diseases or conditions are at a much greater risk. Additionally, smokers and those that abuse alcohol are more susceptible to the illness as well. Anyone with a compromised immune system, such as persons who have AIDS, may be more likely to develop pneumonia too. And, malnutrition, chronic illness and the use of a ventilator can all contribute to an increased risk of pneumonia.
However, person to person transmission remains the most common source of infection. Bronchial pneumonia can be passed from person to person. Unfortunately, the pneumonia contagious period is directly related to the incubation period of the microorganism causing it, if applicable. Thus, a person can be ill for days or weeks without knowing that they are putting people around them at risk. Additionally, the pneumonia contagious period can last for days after antibiotics have begun in the case of bacterial pneumonia or for the same period without medication for viral pneumonia, which also can contribute to the spread of the condition.
Bronchial pneumonia symptoms can also be easily mistaken for bronchitis in children and adults, especially if a virus is to blame, which can further the spread if precautions are not taken. Typically, symptoms include wheezing, a fever, chills, confusion, increased rate of breathing, fatigue, muscle aches, headaches and shortness of breath.
Coughing is one of the main symptoms of bronchial pneumonia, and the cough almost always produces mucus. Pneumonia is also known for producing hemoptysis, which refers to coughing up blood or producing sputum that is streaked or tinged with blood. This may be even more prevalent in cases where infection or inflammation have caused bleeding in various structures of the lungs.
The treatment for bronchopneumonia is the same as other forms of the condition. In the case of a viral source, there is often little treatment required aside from bed rest, plenty of fluids and over the counter medications to treat symptoms like cough and fever if approved by a health care provider. In the case of bacterial bronchial pneumonia however, antibiotics are required in order to treat the condition. For milder cases, these may be taken at home. However, in more severe cases, it is likely that they will need to be administered at the hospital intravenously. Aside from adding another location into the mix of the parts of the respiratory system that pneumonia affects, bronchial pneumonia is little different from the lobular form of the condition. Additionally, it remains a serious condition that can be life threatening in some individuals.