Bacterial Pneumonia – What Is It?
Bacterial pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, is most commonly caused by viruses and bacteria. Thankfully, you actually cannot catch bacterial pneumonia by not bundling up when it’s cold out. However, it can be contracted many other ways. It is typically caught when breathing infected air into our lungs or caused by a bacterial infection or virus. It is very serious and can be fatal if not treated properly. In fact, bacterial pneumonia causes between 40 – 70 thousand deaths each year. It has also been linked to bad oral hygiene, which gives us yet another reason to ensure we keep our regular dental hygiene visits.
Symptoms of Bacterial Pneumonia
There are many signs of bacterial pneumonia, and there have even been some patients haven’t shown any symptoms at all. The most common signs are:
- shortness of breath — many patients feel that they can’t “get” a full breath, no matter how deeply they breathe in
- fever and chills
- coughing up brown/yellow discharge
- slight chest pain, typically worse when breathing in deeply, applying pressure to the chest or coughing
Sometimes – especially after having another sickness such as a sinus infection or bronchitis – you can develop something called “walking pneumonia.” This type of bacterial pneumonia comes on very gradually, and many people just feel “under the weather” and are still able to function just fine on a daily basis, thus the name “walking pneumonia.” The symptoms for this type of pneumonia are
- slight fever
- abdominal pain
- joint pain
- feeling tired and/or weak
Regardless of the symptoms, bacterial pneumonia is a very serious condition that needs to be treated right away before it worsens.
How Is Bacterial Pneumonia Treated?
Bacterial pneumonia is not to be taken lightly, as it can put you in the hospital. Most cases can be treated with good at home care in a couple of weeks, but sometimes a trip to your doctor is necessary. They will need to do some tests and possible a chest x-ray. If it is determined that you have bacterial pneumonia, your doctor may prescribe you an antibiotic.
Preventing Bacterial Pneumonia
Sometimes avoiding pneumonia is as simple as keeping your distance from people who are sick and by ensuring you wash your hands often. If you are a smoker, find a way to stop, as people who smoke are more likely to get pneumonia in their lungs. There are also vaccinations that you can ask your doctor for to help prevent against bacterial pneumonia. Having good oral health has also been proven to prevent this infection.
Oral Health and Bacterial Pneumonia
When you brush your teeth and your partial or denture, you are removing the biofilm that forms on these surfaces. Removing it also removes the respiratory bacteria that can grow there. The reason this is so important is that inhalation of these bacteria into your lungs can actually cause bacterial pneumonia.
If you have dentures they should be cleaned daily after brushing with a denture cleaner that carries the ADA (American Dental Association) seal of acceptance. However, it is not enough to brush and floss your teeth; you should brush your tongue, roof of mouth, cheeks and tissue under your partial or denture in addition to your teeth. Pneumonia related bacteria can be found throughout the mouth, and keeping yours clean is important to your overall health.