Only 10 pc flu cases develop pneumonia


A huge number of pneumonia cases are seen during the monsoon season; however, a majority of the cases are not fatal. However, when compared to the number of viral flu cases, pneumonia accounts for only a  small percentage, say doctors.

Dr Ranganath, consultant pulmonologist at Narayana Hrudayalaya, said that there are three ways a person can contract pneumonia:  if he or she has flu, or belongs to any high risk group comprising children, old people, people with pre-existing illness, etc.
Young people who violently react to the viral attack, which can cause Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), are also vulnerable.

“Only 10 per cent of the viral flu cases cases progress to pneumonia.  The symptoms for pneumonia are high fever, cough that produces a lot of phlegm, and chest pain,” he said.
However, he stressed that ARDS is very dangerous,s and has a high mortality rate. “If a patient suffering from ARDS gets a bacterial infection or pneumonia, it can prove to be fatal,” he said. But he clarified that the mortality rate in pneumonia, even among ICU cases, was only 15 per cent and much lesser if in a milder form.

Dr Hirennappa, Intensivist with Columbia Asia Hospital, said that any person who had a strong immune system could tackle pneumonia. This is not the case with H1N1, which is an immunosuppressant virus. Hence, children below five years of age, people above 65 years, smokers, diabetic patients, people with cardio respiratory illness, cardio illness, asthma and lung diseases are particularly vulnerable to pneumonia.

Although it is difficult to say how many contract pneumonia, Dr Hirennappa said that pneumonia was seasonal and the numbers of cases rise during monsoon and winter. “There are various types of pneumonia, all of them don't result in ARDS. ARDS as such has about 30 to 40 per cent mortality rate. The other complications could be pus formation in lungs, liver damage, etc. However, people suffering from ARDS can also contract pneumonia,” he explained.

He said pneumonia can be diagnosed only through chest X-rays, and the patients usually have symptoms like localized chest pain, cough with sputum along with blood, and breathlessness.
He also dispelled the misconception that people who were put on ventilator do not survive. “That's not true. There are many cases in which patients have recovered after being on ventilator,” he pointed out.

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