All About Lung Infections

All About Lung Infections


Lung infection is posing threat to global health, including in Indonesia. Lungs as a vital organ require more attention to keep their health so the body systems can function properly. Therefore, it is important to know all information about lung infections, including prevention and treatment efforts through respiratory physiotherapy, breathing exercises, and other techniques.

Different Causes of Lung Infections

Lung infection is a condition when the airways and lung tissues are damaged and swollen due to the entry of microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, or fungi. Parasites can also incite lung infections, but the case is very rare. In some cases, more than one type of microorganism may cause an infection. For example, viral bronchitis may lead to bacterial pneumonia.

Most lung infections can be treated medically and most patients can recover. However, this infection can be life-threatening. Lung infections can occur in people of all ages with mild to severe severity. Yet, children and the elderly as well as people with weak immune systems are the most vulnerable.

When Covid-19 broke out, this disease was also classified as pneumonia or lung infection caused by coronavirus. At that time, older people became one of the first to receive the vaccine because they were considered more susceptible to viral infections, especially those with comorbidities.

Determining the cause of lung infection is part of patient management efforts. After determining the cause, the doctor will then determine the appropriate treatment according to the cause. This is because treatment methods vary depending on the cause of the infection, whether it is viruses, bacteria, or fungus.

What Is the Difference Between Virus, Bacterial, And Fungal Infections in the Lung?

Viruses, bacteria, and fungi are all microorganisms. But their size, genetic component, and way of life are different. Hence, the patients’ management is also different. Viruses are smaller than bacteria and can only survive when attached to a host or other living organism. The genetic component of virus consists of RNA and DNA. Viruses can only proliferate within host cells.

Viruses infect our body by attacking healthy cells and depriving the cells of oxygen and nutrients supply. The viruses then multiply themselves until healthy cells are gone or turn into harmful cells to their host. Unlike bacteria, almost all viruses cause infection.

Bacteria ia a single-celled microorganism that can be divided into good and bad ones. Some good bacteria play an important role in the human body system, for example some types of Lactobacillus. While bad bacteria can cause disease, such as Streptococcus and Mycoplasma.

Fungus is a microorganism that usually does not cause serious health problems. There are fungi all around us and they can be seen through a microscope. But when the fungus enters the lungs, the consequences can be critical. Fungal lung infections occur when a group of fungi live in certain parts of the lungs and slowly grow to stick to the lungs.

This fungus comes from the surrounding environment that is inhaled through the respiratory mechanism. Fungi are abundant in dirty and damp rooms that are rarely exposed to sunlight. Compared to bacteria and viruses, lung infections caused by fungi are less common.

The treatment of lung infections caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungi is different. Vaccines can prevent or reduce the risk of viral infection. As for the treatment, antivirals can be used according to the type of virus that cause the infection and to treat the symptoms so they do not get worse.

Bacterial infection is usually treated with antibiotics. The medications can be given orally or intravenously, depending on the severity of the infection. The use of antibiotics depends on the type of infection and the infectious bacteria. Meanwhile, fungal infections are commonly treated with antifungal drugs.

When Do You Need to Go to the Doctor or Hospital?

Lung infections require medical treatment by doctors, especially in hospitals. If you have any of the following symptoms, visit a pulmonologist immediately for further examination:

  • Whooping cough: this is a symptom of a lung infection caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi, whether it is with mucus or dry. If the cough does not go away, it may be a symptom of lung cancer.
  • Shortness of breath during routine activities: if it is harder to breathe normally during routine activities than usual, it may be a sign of a lung problem.
  • Have breathing problems with high fever: fever is a sign of the body’s resistance to infection. If the fever occurs with breathing problems, it is likely a sign of a lung infection.
  • Wheezing: if the breathing sounds like a loud whistling, the lungs may be inflamed.

If these symptoms appear in those who have smoking habit, it is important for them to come to hospital for a health assessment. Smoking habit may trigger lung infections from tobacco. As for those who live with asthma, any breathing-related symptoms should be immediately evaluated by a doctor.

How to Prevent Infection or Transmission?

Most infections can be transmitted from one person to another. Lung infections that are not transmissible between humans, such as chronic bronchitis, are caused by exposure to pollutants such as cigarette smoke and dust. As for infections caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi, our body has an immune system that can protect the lungs.

But each person’s level of immunity is different. Regular exercises and a balanced diet plan can boost our immune system. Breathing exercise, for example, can be performed to strengthen the lungs.

We can also prevent lung infections by avoiding or minimizing air pollution exposure. For example, wearing a mask when doing activities in a dusty and polluted environment. In addition, quit smoking and stay away from cigarette smoke. Regular house cleaning is also important to avoid the risk of fungal infection.

To prevent viral infections, get the right vaccines. Viral vaccines include influenza, pneumonia, pertussis, tuberculosis, and Covid-19 vaccines. Health protocols that must be implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as wearing a mask, social distancing, and routine hand washing with clean water are also effective measures to prevent transmission.

It is also important to get your health examined right away if you suspect a breathing problem so the doctor can intervene as soon as possible before the infection becomes more serious.

Get Good Exercise After a Lung Infection

If you have ever had a lung infection, you can improve your health by always adopting active lifestyle. There are many ways to restore fitness through exercise after a lung infection. One of them is respiratory therapy program that can help you breathe more easily and improve your quality of life. Breathing exercises can be learned with the help of a pulmonologist or respiratory therapist.

Light exercises or simple activities such as fun morning walks, gardening, and cycling can also restore health. Yoga therapy sessions, tai chi, and even dancing are beneficial for restoring lung health after infection. You should consult a doctor to get recommendations for safe and appropriate exercises for your condition.

What Can Be Done at Home to Stay Fit and Prevent Lung Infections?

You can undergo respiratory therapy at home after returning from treatment for lung infection in the hospital. This breathing exercise may become part of recovery program that will go on for weeks to several months. You may still feel tired easily during exercises or regular activities at home. Don’t force yourself to do daily activities to keep your body fit. Rest is also important as part of the recovery process.

A person can have lung infections more than once. Therefore, when you are already discharged from the hospital, immediately change bad habits that possibly cause infection. For example, if you used to overlook the importance of healthy lungs, it is time to do more exercise to train your lungs.

If you have never experienced breathing problems, the key to staying fit and preventing lung infections is to adopt a healthy and hygiene lifestyle. In addition to regular exercise, practice the Covid-19 health protocols. The protocols are necessary especially when there are people around who show symptoms of respiratory infection, particularly coughing and wheezing. As for lung infections patients, doctor will usually give instructions to maintain lung health after treatment in the hospital.

Reviewed by:
Ditinjau oleh:

Dr. Eddy Wiria, PhD

Co-Founder & CEO Kavacare