It is believed that the main threat in coronavirus is lung damage. How does covid lesion occur, at what point is the process complicated by bacterial pneumonia? How to distinguish one from the other, is there a way to protect yourself in advance and prevent COVID-19 from turning into pneumonia, says the candidate of medical sciences, a pulmonologist.
The first thing that is important to understand, the expert says, is that the new coronavirus infection is a viral infection and is part of the group of acute respiratory viral infections. Apart from this group is only the flu. This means that COVID-19, like all respiratory viral infections affecting the upper respiratory tract and lungs, is characterized by the following phenomenon. The immune defenses in the lungs are weakening. Therefore, it becomes possible to attach a secondary bacterial super-infection approximately on the 5th – 9th day of the course of any acute respiratory viral disease.
Since the coronavirus is a special disease, and it does not progress as quickly as the flu, for example, the addition of a bacterial infection usually occurs with COVID-19 towards the end of the second week.
Risks of pneumonia
The risk of bacterial infection with COVID-19 disease increases if the patient enters the hospital and at the same time has a chronic pathology of the upper and lower respiratory tract (for example, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or heart failure.
How does bacterial pneumonia develop
In conditions of reduced respiratory and motor activity, when mucus moves less through the bronchi, against the background of intoxication of the body and decreased immunity, bacteria from the nasopharynx descend into the lower respiratory tract and can begin to multiply there.
Thus, bacterial bronchitis can be caused first, then bronchopneumonia with the transition to bacterial pneumonia. The development of bacterial pneumonia can also contribute to the patient’s prolonged stay on a ventilator. Despite compliance with all the strictest decontamination measures, ventilators are risk factors for the occurrence of ventilator-associated pneumonia.
Pneumonia follows COVID-19
Recently, an analysis of statistical data shows that the medical community is mistakenly addicted to antibiotics in the treatment of a new coronavirus infection, suggesting that changes in the lungs are immediately associated not only with the virus, but also with the bacterial component. This is not true.
According to the expert, to date, a number of reputable medical associations have issued memoranda and open letters calling on colleagues to reduce the use of antibiotics during the treatment of COVID-19, because antibiotics do not benefit, but in this case they cause harm, up to toxic liver damage and the development of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
That is, we seem to be trying to treat pneumonia, which in the doctor’s mind is strongly associated with bacteria, but in fact, at the stage when there is no secondary pneumonia in covid, we are dealing only with a coronavirus lung lesion, which is recommended not to call pneumonia, but to call pneumonitis.
The phenomenon of secondary bacterial pneumonia in coronavirus is overestimated, the expert continues. Such processes develop mainly in patients with heart failure, and for them there are increased precautions, restrictions on movement, recommendations for self-isolation and treatment at home.
Smokers are also at risk for the possibility of developing bacterial pneumonia. However, if smokers with COPD receive competent inhalation treatment and are vaccinated against pneumococcus, then the risks of secondary bacterial pneumonia are also minimized.
How to protect yourself from bacterial pneumonia?
Vaccinate against pneumococcus: The most common cause of community–acquired pneumonia is pneumococcal infection. Vaccination against pneumococcus gives immunity for 5-10 years, if you have been vaccinated with a 13-valent vaccine, then it guarantees lifelong immunity. Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and Hemophilus bacillus – these bacteria are most often the causes of secondary bacterial pneumonia.
Humidify the air: Humidifying the air in the room significantly reduces the risks of mucous purulent plugs in the bronchi, which lead to clogging of the bronchi, to the formation of dry sputum in the bronchi and the development of infection there. Therefore, if the humidity of the air is above 40%, then there are chances that bacterial pneumonia will not develop. It is important to understand that household humidifiers need to be cleaned in time.