World Pneumonia Day: How Does The Infection Affect Key Organs Like Kidneys, Heart, Lungs?
How Does The Infection Affect Key Organs Like Kidneys, Heart, Lungs? : World Pneumonia Day is observed annually on November 12, to remind people that pneumonia is a serious condition that can have severe ramifications on the overall health of a person. If left untreated, it can become a life-threatening lung infection. But, besides the lungs, pneumonia can affect several other organs, too.
Dr Padma Sundaram, consultant pulmonologist, Fortis Hospital, Richmond Road, Bengaluru explained that pneumonia is an infection occurring in the lungs, caused by either bacteria, viruses or fungi. “There is lung inflammation, which causes fluid and later pus formation. Bacterial pneumonia is usually more severe than viral pneumonia. They are more common in winters as there is increase in viral and bacterial infections also worsened by indoor crowding. Pneumonia can affect one or both lungs,” she said.
The doctor added that pneumonia is more common in the elderly, diabetics, those with respiratory, cardiac, kidney and hepatic issues, and cancer patients or those on chemotherapy. “The common early symptoms are fever, a dryness followed by a wet cough, headache, muscle pain and tiredness. The symptoms get worse, with increasing cough, shortness of breath. Elderly patients may present with confusion or drowsiness and fever may be absent,” said Dr Padma.
In severe cases, pneumonia can also affect other organs indirectly, warned Dr Samir Garde, director of Dept of Pulmonology and Lung Transplant, Global Hospitals, Parel. For instance:
1. Heart: Pneumonia may strain the heart as it works harder to pump oxygenated blood. In severe cases, it can contribute to complications like myocarditis or pericarditis.
2. Kidneys: The decrease in oxygen levels due to pneumonia can affect kidney function. In some cases, it may lead to acute kidney injury, especially if the body’s overall oxygen supply is compromised.
3. Brain: Pneumonia can result in a decreased oxygen supply to the brain, potentially causing confusion or altered mental status, especially in older adults.
4. Liver: In rare cases, pneumonia can affect liver function. Elevated liver enzymes may occur, indicating inflammation or damage to the liver.
“It’s important to note that these complications are more common in severe cases of pneumonia or in individuals with pre-existing health conditions. Early detection and appropriate treatment of pneumonia are crucial in preventing such complications. If you have specific concerns or symptoms, consult with a healthcare professional,” Dr Garde said.
Dr Padma advised that in order to prevent respiratory infections this winter, keep warm, close windows to prevent cold drafts, have warm fluids and food. “Avoid crowding and use masks in public places. Avoid smoking and polluted areas. Prophylactic vaccination against influenza, pneumonia is required, especially for vulnerable people. Use preventive inhalers as advised by doctors.”