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Why is pneumonia so dangerous? - Eve Gaus and Vanessa Ruiz

  • 0:07 - 0:10
    Every time you breathe in,
    air travels down the trachea,
  • 0:10 - 0:13
    through a series of channels
    called bronchi,
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    and finally reaches little clusters
    of air sacs called alveoli.
  • 0:17 - 0:20
    There are some 600 million alveoli
    in the lungs,
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    adding up to a surface area
    of roughly 75 square meters—
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    the size of a tennis court.
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    These tiny sacs, only one cell thick,
    facilitate a crucial exchange:
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    allowing oxygen from the air
    we breathe into the bloodstream
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    and clearing out carbon dioxide.
  • 0:36 - 0:39
    Pneumonia wreaks havoc
    on this exchange.
  • 0:39 - 0:43
    Pneumonia is an infection of the alveoli
    that causes them to fill with fluid.
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    There are many different kinds
    of pathogens that can cause pneumonia.
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    The most common ones
    are viruses or bacteria.
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    These microscopic invaders enter the body
    via droplets either in the air we breathe,
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    or when we touch our eyes, noses,
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    or mouths after touching
    a contaminated surface.
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    Then, they face the respiratory tract’s
    first line defense:
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    the mucociliary escalator.
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    The mucociliary escalator consists of
    mucus that traps invaders and tiny hairs
  • 1:11 - 1:15
    called cilia that carry the mucus toward
    the mouth, where it can be coughed out.
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    But some of these invaders
    may get past the mucociliary escalator
  • 1:19 - 1:22
    into the lungs,
    where they meet the alveoli.
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    Because alveoli serve
    as critical exchange points
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    between the blood and air
    from the outside world,
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    they have their own specialized types
    of white blood cells, or macrophages,
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    which defend against foreign organisms
    by enveloping and eating them.
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    When pathogens enter the lungs,
    the macrophages work to destroy them.
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    The immune system releases additional
    white blood cells in the alveoli to help.
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    As these immune cells fight the pathogens,
    they generate inflammation—
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    and fluid as a by-product
    of the inflammation.
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    When this fluid builds up,
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    it makes gas exchange inside
    the alveoli much more difficult.
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    As the level of carbon dioxide
    in the bloodstream begins to rise,
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    the body breathes more quickly to try
    to clear it out and get more oxygen in.
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    This rapid breathing is one of the most
    common symptoms of pneumonia.
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    The body also tries to force the fluid out
    of the alveoli through coughing.
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    Determining the cause of pneumonia
    can be difficult,
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    but once it is established,
    doctors can prescribe antibiotics,
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    which may include either antibacterial
    or antiviral treatments.
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    Treatment with antibiotics helps
    the body get the infection under control.
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    As the pathogen is cleared out,
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    the body gradually expels or absorbs
    fluid and dead cells.
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    The worst symptoms typically fade out
    in about a week,
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    though full recovery may take
    as long as a month.
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    Otherwise healthy adults can often
    manage pneumonia at home.
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    But for some groups, pneumonia
    can be a lot more severe,
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    requiring hospitalization and oxygen,
    artificial ventilation,
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    or other supportive measures
    while the body fights the infection.
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    Smoking damages the cilia,
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    making them less able to clear even
    the normal amount of mucus and secretions,
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    let alone the increased volume
    associated with pneumonia.
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    Genetic and autoimmune disorders
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    can make someone more susceptible
    to pathogens that can cause pneumonia.
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    Young children and the elderly
    also have impaired clearance
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    and weaker immune systems.
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    And if someone has viral pneumonia,
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    their risk of bacterial respiratory
    infection is higher.
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    Many of the deaths from pneumonia
    are due to lack of access to healthcare.
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    But sometimes, even with appropriate care,
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    the body enters a sustained fight against
    the infection it can’t maintain,
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    activating inflammatory pathways
    throughout the body,
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    not just in the lungs.
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    This is actually a protective mechanism,
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    but after too long in this state organs
    start shutting down,
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    causing shock and sometimes death.
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    So how can we prevent pneumonia?
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    Eating well and getting enough sleep
    and exercise
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    helps your body fight off infections.
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    Vaccines can protect against common
    pneumonia-causing pathogens,
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    while washing your hands regularly helps
    prevent the spread of these pathogens—
  • 4:02 - 4:05
    and protect those most vulnerable
    to severe pneumonia.
Title:
Why is pneumonia so dangerous? - Eve Gaus and Vanessa Ruiz
Speaker:
Eve Gaus and Vanessa Ruiz
Description:

View full lesson: https://ed.ted.com/lessons/why-is-pneumonia-so-dangerous-eve-gaus-and-vanessa-ruiz

Every time you breathe, air travels down the trachea, through a series of channels, and then reaches little clusters of air sacs in the lungs. These tiny sacs facilitate a crucial exchange: allowing oxygen from the air we breathe into the bloodstream and clearing out carbon dioxide. Pneumonia wreaks havoc on this exchange system. Eve Gaus and Vanessa Ruiz detail how pneumonia attacks the lungs.

Lesson by Eve Gaus and Vanessa Ruiz, directed by Artrake Studio.

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Video Language:
English
Team:
TED
Project:
TED-Ed
Duration:
04:06
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