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Environmental Pneumonia: Symptoms, causes and treatment

Pneumonia is fatal, it is a major health concern amongst all the age groups, causing 15% deaths every year. Pneumonia is a respiratory infection, where the pus and fluids fill the lung sacs, limiting the oxygen supply to vital organs. This may be caused by indoor air pollution, some of the sources like cooking, smoking/passive smoking, and crowded places. Heavy alcohol intake, contact with pets, households with more than 10 people, contact with children, interventions on the upper airways and poor dental health can also be some of the causes of Pneumonia. Pneumonia in children under five is associated with indoor household air pollution, poor sanitation, absence BCG immunization, and lower family income.

It may be believed to be air-related but is caused by microbes like bacteria, viruses, or fungi. The microbes responsible for pneumonia may also spread through cough via air-borne droplets. The most common cause of Pneumonia is because of bacterial infection. These viruses and bacteria may be present in the nose or throat have the capacity of infecting the lungs, if inhaled. Pneumonia spreads through contact – it is contagious – mostly by inhaling the impure polluted air. Resistance to Pneumonia is a sum total game of susceptible genes and environmental irritants like allergens, smoke, pollutants. Hence, in a way, it may be genetic and may be fatal to people with co-morbidities. The relationship between diabetes, obesity, and susceptibility to lung infection and pneumonia has been evaluated in several studies.

Ambient pollutants, such as ozone, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and other agents has been associated with a decrease in lung function and immunity. There is a difference in gender susceptibility to Pneumonia. In this context, male and female hormones have a difference in receptor binding which are modulated by environmental exposures. Exposure to second-hand smoke, poor nutritional score, history of regular exposure to gases, fumes, or chemicals at work, alcohol intake levels, and history of regular exposure to fumes are the biophysical environmental factors impacting lung health.

Air pollutants are generally present in the environment as a mixture of several gases and particles that are products of combustion of fossil fuels, diesel traffic, wood smoke, and other industrial processes. Air pollutants may include sulfur dioxide (SO2), ground-level ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and carbon monoxide (CO). Exposure to Ozone can weaken breathing, increase coughing, harm lung function. The effect of ozone exposure has been associated with damage of the entire respiratory epithelia and lung immunity.

Individuals who spent time at home, such as mothers and children are at higher risk of developing respiratory infections. Air pollution in countries with high industry factory activity has also been associated with respiratory diseases. Young patients (0–15 years of age) are believed to be most affected by air pollution, followed by older patients (age ≥66 years).

Some of the symptoms can be chills, fatigue, chest pain, loss of breath, persistent cough, fever, muscle pain, headache. Pneumonia can be classified according to the patient population affected like: (a) community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), (b) hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP), (c) ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), and (d) nursing home-associated pneumonia (NHAP). Old aged patients can also have delirium, abdominal pain, or acute cardiac disorders.

While clean air, lifestyle improvements, improving immunity via healthy diets and habits can prevent Pneumonia. Two most important ways to keep Environmental Pneumonia at bay is by maintaining a good living standard that can be done through eating right and breathing right. Quality of air can be monitored via air indexes or scales that can alert individuals when the air quality is at harmful levels. There are also, homemade remedies like herbal teas (peppermint, eucalyptus, fenugreek, Haldi/Ginger tea.

Sources https://www.intechopen.com/books/contemporary-topics-of-pneumonia/understanding-the-intersection-of-environmental-pollution-pneumonia-and-inflammation-does-gender-pla

http://www.jepublichealth.com/index.php?journal=jepublichealth&page=article&op=view&path%5B%5D=85

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19467147/

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