Symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, fever, nausea and vomiting are all indicative of bacteria in the lungs. Although these microorganisms are essential for the proper functioning of human physiological systems, their presence in this type of organ leads to clinical conditions that can be serious.
Do you know why these bacterial infiltrations occur in the lung region? Are you part of a risk group? Knowing more about this is critical to dealing with these diseases as it allows preventive measures to be taken. Next, find out everything you need to know about bacterial pneumonia.
About microbiota and bacterial activity
First, it is essential to remember that the bacteria that inhabit the human body are mostly positive. Several microbiological studies have proven its benefits. Bacterial colonies in the human intestine perform functions such as:
- Better absorption of certain nutrients.
- More efficient lipid metabolism.
- Protection against pathogenic microorganisms.
The normal microbiota is defined as the set of microorganisms that inhabit the body of living beings, and perform various functions of a symbiotic nature with their host.
These colonies have a spatial and temporal component, as their composition and presence can vary depending on where they live and the person’s age.
The problem arises when bacteria, which are not necessarily pathogenic initially, colonize internal systems that do not benefit from their presence. This is the case, for example, with bacterial pneumonia, which we will explain below.
Are there bacteria in the lungs?
With everything that’s been said so far, you may have come to the same conclusion as us: there may be bacteria in the lungs, but that’s not normal. Like any surface in contact with the outside, areas such as the nasal cavity, nasopharynx and larynx have a bacterial community that is harmless to humans.
When these microorganisms occur in the internal respiratory tract, a clinical picture of pneumonia is presented. This type of condition can occur in anyone, regardless of age or gender, although several statistical studies emphasize that it is more common in newborns.
HIV patients are also at special risk for this condition, as they are five times more likely to develop bacterial pneumonia than an HIV-negative person.
Why does bacterial pneumonia occur?
Bacterial pneumonia is usually caused by bacteria of the species Streptococcus pneumoniae. Data published in Integral Pediatrics show that 40% of cases occur by this microorganism. However, it can also arise from the colonization of other microorganisms, such as:
- Haemophilus influenzae .
- Klebsiella pneumoniae.
- Escherichia coli.
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
- Moraxella catarrhalis.
Bacteria reach the respiratory tract by inhalation, but they can also end up there through the blood if an infection spreads far enough to another area of the body. This is when the immune system sends out white blood cells to eliminate pathogens.
Neutrophils surround bacteria with their membranes and release cytokines, which promote a typical clinical picture in bacterial infections. All of this can be summed up by inflammation in the alveoli and shortness of breath.
Symptoms of bacteria in the lungs
Depending on the severity of the clinical picture and the causative microorganism, symptoms may vary. Still, there are some signs that are considered general, such as the following:
- Chest pain when breathing and coughing.
- Productive cough with purulent sputum.
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
How is bacterial pneumonia diagnosed?
According to information from the Pan American Journal of Public Health, the radiological image of alveolar consolidation is accepted as a confirmatory criterion for supposedly bacterial pneumonia. In affected patients, an opacity in the lung tissue is usually seen, but this is not true in all cases.
In suspected cases, cultures of the patient’s sputum can be taken to confirm the presence of bacteria.
What is the treatment?
As in all cases of bacterial infections, antibiotics will be the medication of choice. Your doctor, after determining whether the bacteria are gram-positive or gram-negative, may suggest using a variety of medications, such as amoxicillin, cephalosporin, or doxycycline.
As there are varied treatments, it is necessary to establish the exact gender of the microorganisms causing the disease. With this information, it is possible to choose the most effective therapeutic options for each case.
What should we remember about the presence of bacteria in the lungs?
As strange as it may sound, according to the American Lung Association , there is a vaccine against pneumonia caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, the most prevalent pathogen.
It is recommended for babies under two years of age and adults over 65, as they are typical vulnerable groups. In addition, when contracting it in another age group, the prognosis is positive if treatment is started quickly.
Bacteria are essential microorganisms because they provide protection against pathogens in many of the body’s systems. However, its lack of control can cause health problems.
Therefore, in case of suspected bacterial infection, it is essential to go to the doctor immediately. With the right treatment, the chances of overcoming the disease are quite high.