Bronchial pneumonia, also referred to as bronchopneumonia, is a condition in which the bronchial tubes become inflamed due to infection. The bronchial tubes are two thin pipes that channel inhaled air down into the lungs. If the bronchial tubes become infected, they can fill with mucus and swell, making breathing difficult. Severe cases can completely cut off the lungs’ air supply and result in death.
Exposure to bacteria, particularly Streptococcus pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pneumoniae, tends to be the most frequent source of bronchial pneumonia cases. These types of bacteria are located in the nasal cavities of some individuals. If an infected person sneezes or has a runny nose, bacteria can get into the air or onto surfaces and spread to other individuals. The majority of public places tend to contain Streptococcus pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pneumoniae in some capacity, but the bodies of people with healthy immune systems can usually attack the bacteria and prevent illness. People who have weakened immune systems, such as the elderly, children, or those who are already sick, are more likely to develop bronchial pneumonia after contact with the bacteria simply because their bodies are not strong enough to fight off the bacteria.
The symptoms of bronchial pneumonia generally start out mild and may appear similar to a cold or the flu. A person may first develop a fever and cough, but as the infection progresses, he or she may start to experience pain in the chest that worsens during inhalation. As the infection spreads in the bronchial tubes, the patient may start to cough up mucus or become short of breath.
The condition is usually treated with a course of antibiotic medication to eliminate the Streptococcus pneumoniae or Mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria in the bronchial tubes. The symptoms will generally begin to subside within one to days, but it may take approximately seven to ten days of antibiotics for the infection to be completely treated. If a person’s symptoms become more severe and he or she has trouble breathing, a hospital stay may be required for additional treatment. A doctor will typically give the patient continuous antibiotic injections and recommend the patient wear an oxygen mask to help with breathing.
Bronchial pneumonia can have serious health risks if it is not promptly treated. Bacteria can attack the bronchial tubes to the point where they become so inflamed that air cannot pass through. In rare cases, the bacteria in the bronchial tubes can spread to the bloodstream and attack other internal organs, limiting their ability to function properly.