The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), which seriously affects the respiratory system and has claimed the lives of thousands of people, children, adults and the elderly, around the world, has been confused with other diseases related to the lungs, such as Atypical Pneumoniato. Their symptoms are very similar but there are some differences that indicate the diagnosis to patients and that we should know about. To do this, it is first necessary that you know how our respiratory system works.
Since pneumonia is a inflammatory disease affecting the lungs, it would be important to know in a simple way how the respiratory system is constituted:
When we breathe, air enters through the nose, through the nostrils, or through the mouth; from there it passes to the trachea, which branches into two bronchi; one goes to the right lung and the other to the left lung, immediately branching out like the branches of a tree. Each branch is called bronchioles, which end in the so-called pulmonary alveoli, which are a kind of sachet where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs.
Pneumonia occurs when the lung parenchyma (functional lung tissue) is affected, causing the presence of purulent discharge (pus) in the alveoli. Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa, and its clinical and radiological manifestations can be highly variable according to the causative agent, age and physical conditions of each individual.
Actually, pneumonia is not a contagious disease, but the microorganisms that cause it can spread to another person through respiratory secretions and saliva, when coughing and sneezing. According to the causative agent, pneumonia is classified as: typical pneumonia and atypical pneumonia.
- Typical pneumonia
This type of pneumonia is the most common and is caused mainly by bacteria, the most common being streptococcus pneumoniae. Other bacteria are: haemophilus influenzae, mycobacterium tuberculosis, klepsiella pneumoniae, and legionella pneumophila. When a child has typical pneumonia, they can manifest:
- General discomfort
- High fever of more than 38.5 degrees Celsius
- Cough with phlegm
The diagnosis is made in the hospital or clinic and with a chest X-ray, where a defined lobar pattern can be observed, called pulmonary condensation or lobular infiltrate, that is, the lesion will be very defined and usually in a single lung . A complete hematology and sputum culture may also be ordered to determine the causative agent.
As for the treatment of this type of typical pneumonia, it is based on specific antibiotics to combat the bacteria that cause the disease and of course general support measures. Complications are rare and its evolution is satisfactory after treatment and adequate rest.
- Atypical pneumonia
Also called walker or wanderer pneumonia, because you can walk down the street without knowing that you have a lung disease, since its symptoms are usually mild, similar to a common cold, it is even very confused with this pathology until it progresses to dyspnea or respiratory difficulty, which is when the parents consult with the pediatrician for the complication of the picture.
This pneumonia is caused by lesser-known or rare bacteria such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Coxtella burnetti, and Francisella tularensis. But it is also produced by viruses and among the most frequent we have: Influenzae A and B most frequent), Respiratory Syncytial, Parainfluenzae, and Coronavirus (SARS 1, MERS 1 and Covid 19).
Between the symptoms of atypical pneumonia We can observe:
- Breathing difficulties
- Headache, chest and muscle pain (myalgia)
- Joint pain (arthralgia)
- Low fever or low-grade fever (38 oC)
- Persistent dry cough
- sweating and chills
- Dyspnea or shortness of breath when the pneumonic picture begins.
Diagnosis is also made in the hospital or clinic and by a chest X-ray showing an irregular image, usually bilateral or multilobar (affecting several lobes of the lung), with a characteristic ground glass image.
Treatment is mainly respiratory and general health support, and antibiotics are administered if the causative agent is bacterial.
Is a type of atypical pneumonia, whose onset is very insidious or gradual, like the common cold and as the days go by, the symptoms may worsen, however, only 10 percent (10%) of patients with coronavirus reach the stage of pneumonia and less than 3 percent (3%) progress to respiratory failure and subsequent death. In chest radiography, the typical ground glass image can be seen, very characteristic of atypical pneumonia.
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