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Recently, I was fixated on a documentary about last spring’s tsunami in Japan. The documentary chronicled a local doctor immediately following the tsunami struck Japan.
The doctor and the hospital created a special triage unit for survivors of the tsunami. But after 72 hours, the hospital received very few victims. However, after a week the hospital became overwhelmed with patients suffering from ʺtsunami lung.ʺ
This lung infection occurs when victims of the tsunami ʺinhale saltwater contaminated with mud and bacteria.ʺ Tsunami lung (also known as melioidosis) is a bacterial lung infection. According to the American Journal of Nursing, ʺscientists have cultured Burkholderia pseudomallei (a bacterium found in tropical areas) and Nocardia species from victims' lungs.ʺ
Tsunami lung is treated with antibiotics. However, many times victims do not receive the antibiotics because of the destruction of the tsunami.
The Journal also stated if the infection is not treated with antibiotics, the infection can ʺtravel through bloodstream to the brain, where they produced abscesses and caused neurologic problems, including paralysis.ʺ
Closer to home, there are various types of lung infections. According to the National Institute of Health, ʺduring a normal day, you breathe nearly 25,000 times. People with lung disease have difficulty breathing. Millions of people in the U.S. have lung disease. If all types of lung disease are lumped together, it is the number three killer in the United States.ʺ
Lung infections can be caused by a virus or bacteria. These different types of lung infections include:
• Bronchitis (chronic or acute)
• MRSA Lung Infection
• Pseudomonas Lung Infection
• Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
• Tuberculosis, also known as TB
Symptoms of lung infections:
• Chest congestion
• Chest pain
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Sore throat
Smokers and the elderly are also more prone to lung infections.
Chest X-rays, lung function tests, sputum samples and CBC are all possible tests your doctor may conduct to see if you have a lung infection.