Thursday, July 26, 2018 by Ralph Flores
Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), also called atypical pneumonia, refers to lung infections that are transmitted in a community setting. It’s usually caused by many types of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. In particular, Streptococcus pneumoniae is a bacteria that is usually responsible for CAP, but other common CAP-causing bacteria include:
- Haemophilus influenzae
- Mycoplasma pneumoniae
- Chlamydia pneumonia
- Gram-negative bacilli
- Staphylococcus aureus
Influenza (flu) virus is the leading viral cause of CAP, and it can increase the risk of bacterial pneumonia once a person is infected. Other viruses that can cause CAP are the parainfluenza virus, echovirus, adenovirus, and coxsackievirus.
Known risk factors and symptoms of community-acquired pneumonia
The following risk factors increase the likelihood of getting CAP:
- Chronic lung diseases – COPD, bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis
- Brain disorders – dementia, stroke, cerebral palsy
- Weakened immune system
- Chronic diseases – heart disease, liver cirrhosis, diabetes
- Recent trauma or surgery
Common symptoms include:
- Coughing – some cases may expel greenish or yellow (even bloody) mucous
- Chills and shaking
- Shortness of breath when exerting oneself
- Confusion – common in older people
- Sweating and clammy skin
- Lethargy and loss of appetite
- General case of not feeling well (malaise)
- Sharp or stabbing chest pain when coughing
- Leukonychia (white nail syndrome)
Body systems affected by community-acquired pneumonia
For the most part, CAP does not lead to significant complications. In some cases, however, the following may occur:
- Severe headaches or confusion, if pneumonia spreads to the brain.
- Permanent lung damage, in severe CAP cases.
- Hemolytic anemia, a condition where the body forms autoantibodies which also attack red blood cells. Treating CAP resolves the condition.
Food items or nutrients that may prevent community-acquired pneumonia
Having a healthy diet is essential for keeping pathogens that cause CAP at bay. Here are some recommended food items that you should include in your next meal:
- Colorful fruits and vegetables. These are excellent sources of antioxidants which help your body resist infections and disease, such as upper respiratory tract infections and pneumonia. Some examples include berries, citrus fruits, dark, leafy greens, winter squash, and tomatoes.
- Whole grains. The B-vitamins present in whole grains are vital for energy production and regulating body temperature, which are important when you’re feeling down because of pneumonia. It also contains selenium which boosts the immune system. These include eating oats, brown rice, quinoa, air-popped popcorn, and barley.
- Lean protein. Foods like beans, lentils, skinless white-meat poultry, and fish are vital for tissue repair and immune function. In particular, cold-water fish, such as salmon and sardines, are an excellent source of omega-3 fats – aside from protein – which help reduce inflammation.
- Additional fluids. Drinking 6–10 cups of fluid (e.g., water, juice, broth, and weak tea) greatly helps in pneumonia recovery.
Treatments, management options for community-acquired pneumonia
One of the best ways to prevent pneumonia is to avoid smoking. Modifying your lifestyle habits to promote well-being is also encouraged – this includes having a robust immune system, an anti-inflammatory diet, regular exercise, and stress reduction activities.
Where to learn more
Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is a term used to describe lung infections transmitted in a community setting.
CAP is caused by many types of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites.
CAP does not lead to significant complications.
Having a healthy diet is essential for keeping pathogens that cause CAP at bay.