Pneumonia - Symptoms, Treatment, Homeopathic Remedies
Using Homeopathy for Pneumonia
Pneumonia is a generally infectious lung infection/inflammation characterized by fluid (mucus and pus) in the lungs and consequent difficulty breathing. Pneumonia is really a cluster of diseases, characterized by its effects, which can be caused by a multiplicity of agents: bacteria (most commonly), viruses, fungi, or parasites.
The word "pneumonia" might strike fear in the hearts of many because of its ominous reputation as a killer, cited so frequently as the cause of death for both the famous throughout history (like Tolstoy and Liszt) and regular folks. In actuality, when treated the malady usually resolves within a week or two, unless it's a very bad case - although after-effects can linger. Often pneumonia will develop late in the arc of another disease and prove to be the final blow, so that someone suffering from, say, pancreatic cancer might ultimately be felled by a case of pneumonia.
Pneumonia's severity runs the gamut, from mild to life-threatening. Though it can occur in young, healthy people, pneumonia is especially dangerous and potentially deadly when it strikes the elderly or those with impaired or compromised immune systems.
Roughly 1% of the population contracts pneumonia each year - 3 million cases a year in the U.S., including 1.2 million hospitalizations. Approximately 5% of those who get pneumonia die from it (before the advent of antibiotics, it was 33%), with women and the elderly at higher risk of death.
People at increased risk of contracting pneumonia include those who are immune-compromised, such as HIV positive individuals; the chronically ill; asthmatics; diabetics; those with "smoker's lungs;" people who've had their spleens removed; alcoholics; people who have had recent viral infections; those with lung disease or heart disease; drug users; and people who have had strokes or seizures. Patients who are at increased risk of dying from the condition include the elderly, children, those with heart disease, diabetics, people with certain cancers, and anyone with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
Types of pneumonia include lobular, which affects one lung segment (or lobe), and bronchial pneumonia, which generally affects both lungs and therefore can also be called "double pneumonia." ("Walking pneumonia" denotes a case so mild that the afflicted person doesn't know they have it.)
The most common strain of pneumonia is caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae, but viral pneumonia (which is generally milder) is nearly as prevalent. The disease can also be caused by legionella, mycoplasma or Chlamydia; termed atypical pneumonias, these are hard to diagnose with a normal culture. Pneumococcal pneumonia generally has an abrupt onset, and can be lethal if it gets into the blood; this happens in roughly 20-30% of cases, and of these patients approximately 20-30% die.
A variety of the disease called aspirational pneumonia results from inhaling some agent, usually vomit, when the gag reflex fails to function - for example, if one is unconscious due to an excess of alcohol consumption.
Symptoms of pneumonia can include any combination of coughing (frequently produced green or blood-flecked phlegm), fever (often as high as 104F), fatigue, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing or shortness of breath, chills, and chest (pleuritic) or abdominal pain. A doctor might hear rales or rhonchi (creaking or bubbling sounds) in the lungs. Symptoms can guide diagnoses. For instance, Mycoplasma pneumoniae often also causes headaches and sore throats.
After chest x-rays and blood and sputum tests are conducted - and lung biopsies in severe cases - treatment for bacterial pneumonia is to administer antibiotics, plus rest and fluids. Sometimes hospitalization is called for - especially for the young or old - where IV antibiotics are administered, and respiratory therapy. Humidifier use is sometimes recommended. For pain and fever, there's acetaminophen (Tylenol) and/or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Pneumonia sufferers should avoid all cough suppressants.Some resistant strains of pneumonia have proliferated, making it more tricky to find a drug that will defeat the infection. Choosing the appropriate drug requires identifying the source of the pneumonia; when this isn't possible, the "empiric" approach is applied, whereby doctors prescribe the antibiotic that has the greatest chance of success based on the patient's age, overall health status, etc.
Conventional Treatment Treats the Symptoms Not the Cause
There is a vast and bewildering array of antibiotics prescribed for pneumonia. To cite an example, for pneumococcal pneumonia the most commonly given medications include penicillin, amoxicillin and clavulanic acid (Augmentin, Augmentin XR), and macrolide antibiotics including erythromycin, azithromycin (Zithromax, Zmax), and clarithromycin (Biaxin) - and this is far from a complete list. Other pneumonia-treatment drugs frequently prescribed are cefdinir, fluconazole, ampicillin, acetylcysteine-inhalation/oral, guaifenesin, and sulfamethoxazole with trimethoprim.
Viral pneumonia - caused by adenoviruses, rhinovirus, influenza virus (flu), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), or parainfluenza virusis - is treated with bed rest, fluids, and other sensible lifestyle measures. Basically, the immune system has to be given a chance to fight back. Antiviral drugs are sometimes administered. The important thing is to avoid a bacterial pneumonia from developing in its wake.
There are of course side effects associated with antibiotics. They can compromise the immune system, destroying good bacteria along with the bad, and often lead to gastrointestinal distress and fatigue. The overall weakening from antibiotic treatment often contributes to recurrences of upper respiratory infections and to an extended recovery time where the patient is left feeling even worse than before getting sick. A well-prescribed homeopathic remedy shortens the recovery time, actually reduces the intensity of the cough (which antibiotics do not do), helps one sleep better at night, and generates an overall improvement in health that leaves the patient stronger than before getting sick.
Pneumonia is a serious disease that should be evaluated by a doctor in most cases, but alternative methods for dealing with pneumonia exist - especially for managing symptoms and bolstering the immune system. Complementary and alternative approaches can work in tandem with conventional treatment. Traditional Chinese medicine has been very effective at treating childhood pneumonia. Cayenne, bromelain, barberry root bark, and goldenseal are all useful treatments with this disease. Mullein, Seneca snakeroot, eucalyptus. Vitamins, such as A, C, and E, can help fight off infections, and Zinc can help (though more before than during). Remedies made with fenugreek, garlic, sesame seeds, parsnip juice & other vegetable juices can alleviate symptoms and even help to cure the disease.
Homeopathy Matches Your Individual Symptoms to a Homeopathic Remedy So You Feel Better Right Away
Homeopathic treatment for pneumonia is based on all the factors of the condition, especially the nature of the symptoms. As with any disease, homeopathy takes the whole person into consideration, not just the afflicted area (in this case, the lungs). Some of the most common homeopathic remedies for the treatment of pneumonia include aconite (Acon), ferrum phosphoricum (Ferr-p), veratrum viride (Verat), iodine, and kali muriaticum (Kali-m). An experienced homeopath selects individualized homeopathic remedies that will help reduce the symptoms' intensity and frequency.