Pneumonia

Pneumonia, a life-threatening lung infection, can be caused by a wide range of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. New research reveals that pneumonia leads to over 1.3 million emergency room visits, and causes an estimated 50,000 deaths each year.

With COVID-19’s emergence, there has been an increase in Americans battling pneumonia, and this is reflected in search data. How are people taking to social media to share the realities of this infection?

Search Trends

The Trends Section provides an overview of some of the most recent and relevant topics that relate to particular health conditions.

It features a selection of the topics that have the fastest growing Google search interest across the last three months, and reflects the inquiries of patients, healthcare providers, scientists, and others who are invested in the topic.

This is valuable to understand people’s interests and concerns at the present moment, and often include the U.S. states that have the highest interest in a topic. 

Quilt.AI brings these trends to life through an analysis that incorporates both cultural and scientific lenses.

When people are looking to manage pneumonia, what are the drugs they’re thinking about?

What is trending on search for Pneumonia?

Search interest for can COVID turn into pneumonia grew by 103% in the last 3 months, from May 2022 to July 2022.

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1. COVID and pneumonia

Since COVID-19 is similar to other respiratory illnesses, it can cause long-lasting lung damage. For example, in pneumonia, the lungs become filled with fluid and inflamed, leading to breathing difficulties. COVID-19-induced pneumonia tends to take hold in both lungs. The air sacs in the lungs fill with fluid, limiting their ability to take in oxygen, even with the support of a ventilator. 

There has been a 103% increase in searches for “can COVID turn into pneumonia.” This increase in searches may be due to the fact that COVID cases spiked in the past few months. As cases increase, the risk of progression to pneumonia increases as well. 

2. Legionnaires’ disease on the rise

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia; it usually presents with lung inflammation that’s caused by a bacterium known as legionella.

There has been a recent spike in deaths caused by Legionnaires’ disease in Napa County, California. This may be causing the surge in search interest about the condition over the past few months.

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Search interest for legionella pneumonia for epilepsy grew by 24% in the last 3 months, from May 2022 to July 2022. 

Search interest for viral vs bacterial pneumonia grew by 193% in the past 3 months, from May 2022 to July 2022

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3. Understanding types of pneumonia

Classic symptoms of pneumonia include cough, fever, difficulty of breathing, and increased breathing rate. When a patient presents with these symptoms, a series of tests and lung examinations are done to differentiate between viral and bacterial pneumonia. 

There has been a 193% increase in searches for viral vs. bacterial pneumonia. This may be due to the increased media coverage about the pneumonia vaccine. A recent 2022 market review showed that the pneumonia vaccine has seen a drastic increase in sales. The prominence in media may be leading people to want to understand the different types of pneumonia and how to prevent them. 

As well, the recent Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in California may be causing people to want to find out more about the different types of pneumonia.

4. Aspiration pneumonia 

Aspiration pneumonia occurs when food or liquid is breathed into the airways or lungs, instead of being swallowed. Risk factors include drinking large amounts of alcohol, taking illicit drugs, old age, problems swallowing, etc. 

There has been an 11% increase in searches for aspiration pneumonia in the past 3 months. This increase may be related to the surge in COVID cases. The neurological disturbances that can result from COVID sometimes lead to the accidental aspiration of foreign materials (food, liquids, even medications) that leads to this type of pneumonia.

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Search interest for aspiration pneumonia grew by 11% in the past 3 months, from May 2022 to July 2022.

Search interest for pneumonia cough sound grew by 49% in the last 3 months, from May 2022 to July 2022.

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5. The sound of pneumonia

Presenting with a new cough, or a cough that has changed in sound and/or intensity, alerts physicians that a patient may have pneumonia. Pneumonia coughs tend to sound deeper than a regular cough. (Bacterial pneumonia and more advanced viral pneumonia also present with more mucus discharge.)

Search interest for “pneumonia cough sound” grew by 49% in the last 3 months. Respiratory diseases have been on the increase during this period, and patients may be doing research to self-diagnose. 

Pneumonia in Culture

The Culture Section highlights emerging cultural trends, new products, and notable dialogue about a variety of health conditions. The purpose of this section is to zoom in on what has been happening within the cultural and professional landscape of a particular health condition–stories that are often missed by quantitative searches.

By featuring influential social media items, patient discourse, professional dialogue, product innovations, and impactful news items, this section illuminates the lived experiences of many patients, while also providing a snapshot of the developments happening around them. 

Here, Quilt.AI offers a detailed and nuanced perspective of what is new and what is meaningful.

1. Need-to-know: medical experts talk pneumonia

Perhaps because pneumonia is so prevalent, some medical experts have chosen the condition as a topic to explore through their TikTok accounts. 

Dr. Richard Manrique (@richmedicine), a retired Georgia-based general practitioner, has a popular video about pneumonia that has been viewed 29.1K times. In it, he discusses how it develops and the symptoms to watch for. He interacts with commenters, who often request additional information. 

Microbiologist Megan (@micromeg) shows the different types of pneumonia that can be caused by bacteria in her video on the topic, which has been viewed 621.2K times. Pneumonia can be caused by many different bacteria, viruses, and fungi; she specifically brings awareness to the symptoms and treatment of bacterial pneumonia.

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2. Image is everything: HCPs share imaging of COVID pneumonia   

Many HCPs are taking to TikTok to emphasize the ongoing dangers of catching COVID-19. Some have chosen to focus on COVID-19-induced pneumonia, and get their message across by featuring compelling imaging of lungs that have been affected. The most common hashtags used are #covidlungs and #covidpneumonia.

California-based internal medicine physician Dr. Amro Mahmoud’s (@dramromahmoud) June 25 video has already had 13K views; he notes the severity of COVID-19’s impact on the lungs. Michigan-based critical care physician Dr. Neena Chandrasekaran (@neenziemd) has a similar video that has received 159K views. In it, she counters the popular perception that COVID-19 is a mild illness. Ultimately, these HCPs use these videos to promote COVID-19 vaccinations and to promote COVID-19 vigilance. 

3.  Just breathe: patient experiences with pneumonia  

TikTok has become the platform where people share their experiences with many medical conditions, and this is true for pneumonia as well. There is much patient diversity in these types of posts, showing people in all stages of life affected by pneumonia, and with a variety of pathogenic causes.

Some people post about their battle with the life-threatening condition to raise awareness, and others ask for prayers or well wishes. Other people post loved one’s experiences with pneumonia. These types of posts can function as a therapeutic tool to express fears and receive support.

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@official.mister.smiles In the hospital again With Onset pneumonia They Caught it early enough. Prayers needed. Thank you #prayersneeded #foryou ♬ original sound - Mister Smiles

4. Pneumonia gets political on Reddit

Reddit has become the forum for people in the US to vent their frustrations about COVID-19 denialism and perceived recklessness by others, including by prominent community figures. Pneumonia is often mentioned as a consequence that justifies pro-vaxxers’ views that people should not be taking the virus lightly, and should avoid putting others at risk.

Each post prompts hundreds of other users to comment, which demonstrates how heated this debate is. Much of this discourse has moralistic tones. This growing collection of posts discuss COVID-19-induced pneumonia, but really represent yet another facet of the ‘pro- vs. anti-vax’ debate.

5. Prevention is the treatment: pneumococcal pneumonia

Individuals and public health authorities like the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases are using their Twitter accounts to promote the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine.

This is the most common type of bacterial pneumonia and is caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, a bacteria that lives in the upper respiratory tract. It can cause pneumococcal pneumonia, or the condition can develop after having a cold or flu.

It is a major concern as it infects approximately 900K Americans each year. According to the CDC, adults with certain chronic health conditions and all those over 65 years of age should consider receiving this widely available vaccine.