The Causes of Pneumonia: Five Surprising Facts Everyone Should Know

By: Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services
Thursday, December 21, 2023

The lesser-known causes of pneumonia involve some unexpected factors that go beyond the usual suspects.

Did you know that, together with the flu, pneumonia is a top cause of death in the United States? It’s a fact, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Part of what makes pneumonia so lethal is that it isn’t just one disease; it’s a general term for infections in the lung. It puts hundreds of thousands of Americans in the hospital every year, and more than 45,000—mostly people over age 65—die from the illness annually. The Pneumococcus bacterium and a bacterium called Haemophilus influenzae are two of the most common causes, but they are not the only ones.

In this article, we will share some surprising causes of pneumonia, along with helpful information about this respiratory health condition so you can protect yourself and your loved ones.

Pneumonia 101

Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus. causing cough with phlegm, fever, chills, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. A variety of organisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, can cause pneumonia. The illness can range in seriousness from mild to life-threatening. It is most serious for infants and young children, people older than age 65, and those with existing health problems or weakened immune systems. The pneumococcal vaccine is an important immunization that helps protect children and adults from various types of pneumococcal bacteria.

Five Little-Known Causes of Pneumonia

1.     Poor oral hygiene

Daily brushing and flossing are good for much more than just a set of pearly whites. Poor oral hygiene is associated with an increased risk of pneumonia because an unhealthy mouth contains more bacteria. The germs hang on drops of saliva that are inhaled and enter the lungs. And while we all have some bacteria in the lungs, mechanisms like cilia and mucus are there to clear it out. When a massive number of bacteria enter the lungs, however, it’s much harder for the built-in mechanisms to fully do their jobs, which increases the risk of pneumonia. Make proper daily oral hygiene a priority to reduce your odds of contracting it.

2.     Swallowing difficulties

People with Parkinson’s disease, a debilitating brain condition that impairs movement, die of pneumonia more than any other cause. That’s because the muscles that move food and liquid from the mouth down the throat and into the stomach don’t work properly, a condition known as dysphagia. This makes it easier for foreign particles like food or saliva to end up in the lungs instead of the stomach. The bacteria that’s on these foreign particles can then cause pneumonia. Anyone who has dysphagia is at increased risk for pneumonia, including those with dementia, cerebral palsy, gastroesophageal reflux disease, stroke, certain head and neck cancers, and spinal cord injury.

3.     Vomiting

Vomiting can cause pneumonia or pneumonitis, an inflamed lung, which is similar to pneumonia. Pneumonitis occurs when an irritant is inhaled into the lungs. Gastric acid is the most common cause, and the most common reason for gastric acid in the lungs is throwing up. During a vomiting event, the stomach contents come up and often get into the lungs. This very acidic fluid in the lungs can cause an intense inflammatory response. Mild cases usually go away quickly, but more serious bouts may require oxygen therapy and can even cause fatal respiratory failure.

4.     Contaminated water

Bacteria love warm, wet places like large, poorly maintained building water systems. They could be contaminated by the Legionella bacterium, which causes a form of pneumonia called Legionnaire’s disease. Other possible sources of Legionella include:

  • Hot tubs
  • Saunas
  • Cooling towers for large commercial air conditioning systems
  • Commercial or large residential water heaters
  • Fountains

Legionnaires’ is contracted by inhaling contaminated water droplets. It is fatal in about 10% of cases and is more lethal for smokers, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.

5.     Fungal spores

It isn’t just bacteria and viruses that cause pneumonia. Less commonly, fungi can also cause a lung infection. People who develop fungal pneumonia usually have weak immune systems. This includes organ transplant recipients, alcoholics, and people with diabetes, for example. Fungi are found in soil, mold, and animal droppings, and anyone who works in or around these environments regularly may be at risk of inhaling a mass of fungal spores. The body can often clear these fungi on its own. In more serious cases, however, antifungal medications may be needed.

From our daily habits to environmental factors, our respiratory health is intertwined with many elements. By staying informed and adopting preventive measures, we can better safeguard ourselves and our loved ones from the unexpected causes of pneumonia.

Staying healthy gets easier when you have the right information. If you need additional resources or if you have questions about pneumonia and how to avoid it, we are here to help. Please reach out to our caring professionals anytime.

About Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services: As a leading African American-owned and operated funeral and cremation organization, Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services has provided a ministry of care to thousands of grieving families. We promise to provide our highest level of distinguished service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. With two convenient locations serving North and West Philadelphia, it is always our pleasure to be of service. For more information about our funeral, cremation, memorial, repast, and grief counseling services, please visit batchelorbrothers.com.

Leave a comment
Name*:
Email:
Comment*:
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.

Comments

Please wait

Previous Posts

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Cremation: Seven Useful Facts Everyone Needs to Know

Understanding cremation begins with separating the facts from the misconceptions. Cremation has become increasingly popular in recent years as individuals seek alternative end-of-life options. Des...

Traditional Funeral Flowers Not For You? Here Are Six Clever, Eco-Conscious Options

As we become increasingly aware of environmental concerns, the impact of traditional funeral flowers on our planet has come under scrutiny. Amid grief and loss, funeral flower arrangements have lo...

Winter Heart Attacks Are More Common Than You Think. Here’s How to Reduce Your Risk

Amid the serene beauty of frosty settings, winter heart attacks are a chilling reality for many people. Winter is a picturesque time of year with its snow-covered landscapes and crackling fireplac...

How Heartfelt Condolence Messages Can Ease the Pain of Grief

Condolence messages are often a source of great comfort to those who are grappling with loss. This simple gesture lets you express your sympathies and lets the bereaved know they are in your thoug...

Five Inspiring Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King Day 2024

In the United States, Martin Luther King Day is observed annually on the third Monday in January. The day commemorates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister and pr...

Funeral and Estate Planning is a Smart New Year’s Resolution. Find Out Why.

This New Year, go beyond the surface-level resolutions and delve into the power of funeral and estate planning. The journey through advanced funeral and estate planning may not be fun, but it is a...

Personalized Holiday Memorials: Eight Heartfelt Ways to Honor Your Loved Ones

The magic of personalized holiday memorials lies in their ability to transform grief into a celebration of enduring love. The holiday season often calls to mind cherished memories of loved ones wh...

Cold and Flu Season is Here! Get the Information You Need to Stay Healthy.

When the weather turns frigid and the days grow short, it’s a sure sign that cold and flu season is on the way. Winter is around the corner, signaling the battle cry against seasonal illnesses. It...

Funeral Food Has the Power to Combine Comfort and Culture

Funeral food weaves together comfort and culture, providing nourishment for the soul during times of mourning. Around the world, diverse cultural and religious traditions often share a meal to hon...

Military Funeral Traditions: Honoring our Veterans with Respect and Dignity

From the sounding of Taps to the presentation of the American flag, military funeral traditions encompass a range of poignant customs and unique elements. As we pause to commemorate Veterans’ Day ...