SCRIPT NUMBER 102 PNEUMONIA-2 (TWO SPEAKERS)

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1 SCRIPT NUMBER 102 PNEUMONIA-2 (TWO SPEAKERS) PROGRAM NAME: HEALTH NUGGETS PROGRAM TITLE: PNEUMONIA-2 PROGRAM NUMBER: 102 SUBJECT: SYMPTOMS, PHYSIOLOGY, CAUSES, PREVENTION OF PNEUMONIA KEY WORDS: MUCUS, OXYGEN, DEFENSE MECHANISM, IMMUNE SYSTEM, VIRUS, BACTERIA, INVASION, ANTIBIOTICS, SECRETIONS, FACEMASK DATE OF SCRIPT: MARCH 8, 2013 AUTHOR: RICHARD YUKL, MD, FACS It was one of those cold, rainy times of year when everyone was getting sick. People in the stores and at church were coughing in your face, and someone at work stayed home every day because they felt ill and weak. Just as John feared, he awoke one night sweating and with shaking chills. He felt short of breath, and when he tried taking in deep breaths, his chest hurt. Then, the coughing started. He began coughing up thick, greenish-colored mucus. He had developed pneumonia.

2 The World Health Organization tracks the leading causes of death around the world. It identifies infections of the breathing tubes and lungs, or what we call pneumonia, as the world s third leading cause of death, and the greatest cause of death in the world s developing countries. Today, we want to talk about pneumonia, and how you can prevent getting this killer. We re not talking about a common cold, we re talking about infections of the major breathing tubes and of the lungs themselves. How do my lungs work, and how does pneumonia harm them? Your lungs are delicate organs that look like a fine sponge. As you breathe air in, your lung tissues actively remove oxygen out of the air and transfer it into the red blood cells that are circulating in your blood vessels. The oxygen is then carried to every cell of your body to supply the energy it needs to function properly. Pneumonia is an infection of those lung tissues. Your lung tissues become inflamed because of the infection, and they can no longer transfer oxygen from the air to your blood. Without the ability of your body s cells to get their needed oxygen, you risk dying. How does my body fight infections?

3 God created our bodies with a built-in defense mechanism designed to fight invasion by organisms such as bacteria and viruses, the most common causes of pneumonia. That defense mechanism is called the immune system. Specialized cells in our blood are constantly looking for the foreign proteins that are a part of these attacking organisms. If an attack is identified, the immune system actively works to destroy the invading organism. Can my immune system successfully fight off a pneumonia infection? Your body can heal itself if your immune system is strong. Unfortunately, infants, the elderly, and people who have poor nutrition or poor health have an immune system that is weakened. It s not working at its full potential, and it often can t destroy the invaders quickly enough. In that case, the infection may spread. If the infection becomes serious and widespread, your chances of dying are one in four, even with intensive care. Which is more dangerous, an infection caused by bacteria or one caused by a virus? An infection by either bacteria or a virus is dangerous. Bacterial infections are dangerous because they require antibiotics if lesser treatments fail, and antibiotics may be too expensive to afford. Virus infections

4 are dangerous because there are very few medicines that can destroy a virus, so your body has to destroy the virus using nothing more than its own defense mechanism. I understand the symptoms of pneumonia to be fever and sweating, shortness of breath, a persistent cough that brings up discolored or even bloody sputum, and chest pain that worsens as I breathe deeply. If I develop such symptoms, what should I do? If you have access to a doctor, you should go. You may need medicines to relax your breathing tubes to get as much air into the lungs as possible. You may also need extra oxygen. You may need fluids by vein to keep your secretions thin enough to be coughed up, and chest therapy to loosen up your secretions. If the cause of your pneumonia proves to be a bacterial invasion, the specific bacteria need to be identified so that appropriate antibiotics can be started if these other treatments fail. What actions can I take to guard against developing pneumonia? Most importantly, wash your hands. Your hands are in constant contact with the very bacteria and viruses that cause pneumonia. These organisms enter your body when you touch your eyes or rub the inside of your

5 nose, so wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap to reduce your risk of infection. Next, don't smoke. Smoking damages your lungs' natural defenses against infections. Thirdly, take care of yourself. Proper rest, moderate exercise, and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains all help to keep your immune system strong. Finally, drink lots of liquids to keep your secretions thin enough to be coughed up. Summarize for me what I should know about pneumonia. Pneumonia is a serious health problem around the world, especially in infants, the elderly, people who have an immune system weakened by poor nutrition or poor health, and those people who do not have the ability to go to a doctor. Guard against developing pneumonia by washing your hands, not smoking, getting enough rest and exercise, by eating a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and whole grains, and by drinking lots of fluids. If you develop symptoms suspicious of pneumonia, go to see a doctor if it is possible to get aggressive treatment. Finally, if you have pneumonia, protect others from infection. Stay away from anyone with a weak immune system. When that isn't possible, protect others by wearing a facemask. God made our bodies with a defense mechanism that can cure us of pneumonia if we do what we can to help it do its job. Health Nuggets is written by Dr. Richard Yukl, a medical doctor working in the United States. The medical views expressed in this program are his and may differ for your particular health needs. If you need

6 medical advice, please consult a medical professional in your area.

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