Unmasking pressing pulmonary maladies

Dr Suresh S, consultant and interventional pulmonologist at Gleneagles Global Health City shares a detailed analysis of pneumonia with its complications in high-risk individuals.
For representational purposes.
For representational purposes.

CHENNAI: The last two years stand testament to the danger of threats to the respiratory system. Much like Covid, there is another threat that is lurking with the new season around the corner — pneumonia. This infection added to any other ailment can worsen things significantly. How? Dr Suresh S, consultant and interventional pulmonologist at Gleneagles Global Health City shares a detailed analysis of the condition with its complications in high-risk individuals. “Pneumonia is nothing but an infection in the lungs. The lungs will be filled with phlegm or pus, causing inflammation and consolidation of the organ,” he begins.


  • Cough, breathing difficulty, chest pain, fever, fatigue.

Causative agents

  • Virus, bacteria, fungus.


  • The infection in the lungs will prevent them from conducting gas exchange properly.
  • If it’s mild to moderate pneumonia, depending upon the severity of the lung infection, the patient’s oxygen level will be reduced.
  • If you don’t treat pneumonia on time, it may lead to respiratory failure. Patients may need ventilator support.
  • It can lead to septic shock and multi-organ dysfunction. Septic shock is a condition where the infection is mixed up with blood and causes renal, heart, or liver failure and low blood pressure.

High-risk individuals who are prone to the disease

  • Patients with uncontrolled diabetes.
  • Patients suffering from renal diseases like chronic kidney disease or those surviving on dialysis.
  • Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
  • Patients who have undergone transplants.
  • People above the age of 65.
  • Children (They are more vulnerable because their immune systems are still developing).
  • Patients with asthma, COPD, bronchiectasis, and interstitial lung disease (especially during the winter and rainy seasons) are prone to develop infection).
  • Patients on immunosuppressant drugs like long-term steroids, suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, and undergoing chemotherapy or dialysis. If you don’t treat people in immunocompromised states, they will have tuberculosis also, these are the various causative agents for pneumonia.


  • We need to protect high-risk individuals by giving yearly vaccination.


  • Pneumococcal vaccine (Every 5 years)
  • Flu vaccine (Every year)
  • Tdap vaccine (Every 10 years)
  • Oxygen support or non-invasive ventilation is advised for moderate to severe patients, depending on the condition. They need support to keep their blood pressure normal.
  • Some patients may also need a tracheostomy, a surgically created hole to help them breathe.
  • For patients suffering from heavy bleeding, lobectomy is advised.

Tips from a professional

  • Exercise regularly.
  • People on immunosuppressants should always wear a mask while going out, to avoid getting any infection.
  • Asthma and COPD patients are advised to not go out often during the rainy season. They have to always carry their medications while travelling.
  • Take a high protein and low carbohydrate diet. Patients with breathing difficulty can avoid cold food items.

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