What Is The Recovery Time For Covid Pneumonia
Dr. Lee: Regardless of what causes it, regaining strength after pneumonia can take quite a long time from several weeks to many months.
During COVID pneumonia recovery, your body first has to repair the damage caused to the lungs then it has to deal with clearing leftover fluid and debris and, finally, scarring until the tissue is fully healed over all of which come with unpleasant symptoms.
For the 15% of infected individuals who develop moderate to severe COVID-19 and are admitted to the hospital for a few days and require oxygen, the average recovery time ranges between three to six weeks.
For the 5% who develop severe or critical illness, recovery can take much longer.
Everyone’s recovery is unique and depends on:
- Your overall health
- Whether you have preexisting conditions
- The severity of your infection
If you are recovering from COVID pneumonia and experiencing persistent problems, I recommend seeing your doctor for a follow-up evaluation. If your recovery is prolonged, he or she may recommend a specialized program, such as pulmonary rehabilitation, to help get you back on track.
In some cases, patients will have lingering symptoms after the initial COVID-19 infection, often called post-COVID syndrome. These “long haulers” can have variety of problems, since the virus can attack not only the lungs, but also the heart, kidneys and brain. Your doctor can also help you manage these lingering symptoms.
Can Pneumonia Be Prevented
The flu vaccine is recommended for all kids ages 6 months through 19 years. Its extra important for kids who have a chronic illness such as a heart or lung disorder or asthma.
When possible, keep kids away from anyone with symptoms of a respiratory infection.
When Is Pneumonia Contagious
Pneumonia is contagious when the causative pathogens are expelled by an infected person by coughing out infected droplets. These expelled droplets contain the bacteria or virus that causes the pneumonia. These droplets contaminate the mouth or breathing tract of another individual to eventually infect their lungs.
The approximate time when pneumonia becomes contagious varies with the type of infecting agent and may range from one to two days to weeks. In addition, some pneumonias are more highly contagious than others. For example, Mycobacterium and Mycoplasma organisms are highly contagious, but other types, including pneumococcal pneumonia, require optimal conditions to spread to another person and are weakly contagious.
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What Health Complications Can Pneumonia Lead To
If you have flu-like symptoms that persist or worsen despite treatment, talk to your doctor.
Your doctor can monitor your lungs while you inhale, listening for crackling sounds that are audible only with a stethoscope.
In order to confirm the diagnosis and identify the specific germ causing the illness, you may get a chest X-ray as well as a blood test, depending on your medical history and physical exam, if your doctor suspects that you have pneumonia.
If left untreated, pneumonia can become severe.
People with severe pneumonia experience higher fevers along with GI symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea, as well as:
- Difficulty breathing
Get The Necessary Vaccines
In addition, there are several vaccines that can help protect against some viruses and bacteria that cause pneumonia, Cutler says.
These include the following:
- Pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends this vaccine for babies and children younger than two years old and adults age 65 and older.
- Influenza vaccine. The CDC recommends everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine every year to protect against the infectious diseases and related health complications, like pneumonia.
- Hib vaccine. The CDC recommends this vaccine for all children younger than five years old. It protects against the Haemophilus influenzae type b bacteria that can cause pneumonia and meningitis.
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It Might Feel Like A Cold
Walking pneumonia is how some people describe a mild case of pneumonia. Your doctor might call it âatypical pneumoniaâ because itâs not like more serious cases.
A lung infection is often to blame. Lots of things can cause it, including:
- Inhaled food
Walking pneumonia usually is due to bacteria called Mycoplasma pneumoniae.
You probably wonât have to stay in bed or in the hospital. You might even feel good enough go to work and keep up your routine, just as you might with a cold.
How Do The Lungs Work
Your lungs main job is to get oxygen into your blood and remove carbon dioxide. This happens during breathing. You breathe 12 to 20 times per minute when you are not sick. When you breathe in, air travels down the back of your throat and passes through your voice box and into your windpipe . Your trachea splits into two air passages . One bronchial tube leads to the left lung, the other to the right lung. For the lungs to perform their best, the airways need to be open as you breathe in and out. Swelling and mucus can make it harder to move air through the airways, making it harder to breathe. This leads to shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and feeling more tired than normal.
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How Can You Prevent Pneumonia
Experts recommend immunization for children and adults. Children get the pneumococcal vaccine as part of their routine shots. If you are 65 or older or you have a long-term health problem, it’s a good idea to get a pneumococcal vaccine. It may not keep you from getting pneumonia. But if you do get pneumonia, you probably won’t be as sick. You can also get an influenza vaccine to prevent the flu, because sometimes people get pneumonia after having the flu.
You can also lower your chances of getting pneumonia by staying away from people who have the flu, respiratory symptoms, or chickenpox. You may get pneumonia after you have one of these illnesses. Wash your hands often. This helps prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria that may cause pneumonia.
Critical Role Of Pneumococcal Vaccine In Preventing Pneumonia
In children aged three months to four years, the most common type of bacterial pneumonia is Strep. pneumoniae. In children greater than age four, it remains in the top three most common types. The pneumococcal vaccine series, started at two months of age, significantly reduces the rates of bacterial pneumonia from Strep. Pneumoniae. The vaccine is usually administered during wellness or prevention visits and cannot be given to a child with a fever. This emphasizes the need for healthcare access globally.6
With global vaccination rates currently plateauing, the challenges of diagnosing and treating community acquired pneumonia are even more pertinent for prevention of severe respiratory illness. Vaccine uptake challenges can be overcome with global measures to increase the access and use of vaccines. Addressing vaccine use and providing education about common pneumonia symptoms can aid in early diagnosis of pneumonia and lower the rate of severe respiratory illness and prolonged hospitalization.
World Health Organization Health Topics. Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals: National programs and systems on improving vaccination demand and addressing hesitancy. 17 June 2020 update.
Popovsky EY, Florin TA. Community-Acquired Pneumonia in Childhood. Reference Module in Biomedical Sciences. 2020 B978-0-08-102723-3.00013-5. doi:10.1016/B978-0-08-102723-3.00013-5
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Which Types Of Pneumonia Are Contagious
Pneumonia is contagious when it is caused by infectious pathogens, like bacteria or viruses. This is the case with most types of pneumonia, including:
- Bacterial pneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia in adults and is typically caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae. Bacterial pneumonia can occur on its own, or as a result of a viral cold or flu. You might also catch bacterial pneumonia during a hospital stay for another illness, because your immune system is already weakened and you are more susceptible.
- Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus pneumonia is a type of bacterial pneumonia caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Those who work or live in crowded spaces with frequent skin-to-skin contact, like nursing homes, daycare centers or hospitals, are at an increased risk for this type of pneumonia.
- Viral pneumonia is the most common cause of pneumonia in children younger than five years old. Any virus that infects the respiratory tract can cause viral pneumonia, but the flu virus is the most common cause of viral pneumonia in adults, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute .
- Walking pneumonia, also known as atypical pneumonia, generally describes a mild case of pneumonia, often caused by a common bacterium known as Mycoplasma pneumonia. This type of pneumonia accounts for about 10% to 40% of pneumonia cases not acquired in hospitals or health care facilities.
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What Is It And Is It Contagious
Pneumonia is a lower respiratory lung infection that causes inflammation in one or both lungs. Once infected, the lungâs air sacs inflame and fill with fluid and pus. Pneumonia comes in different forms and is caused primarily by bacteria or viruses, and less commonly by fungi and parasites. The type of germ determines who gets pneumonia, how serious the illness can become, and how pneumonia is treated.
It is contagious when the causative pathogens are expelled when an infected person coughs and produces droplets. These expelled droplets contain the bacteria or virus that causes the pneumonia. Bottom line, you donât catch pneumonia. You catch the germs that cause it!
You can catch the germs that cause pneumonia in the most common of places, and the environment you visit on a daily basis may contribute to how susceptible you are to the disease.
For the most part, bacterial pneumonia is much less contagious after antibiotics have been administered for 24-48 hours. For viral pneumonia, the person becomes less contagious after the symptoms have begun to recede, especially the fever. This may occur one or two days after the person is free of fever, but one may still shed some infectious virus for a week or so with some types of viral pneumonia.
What Causes Chest Infections
Most bronchitis cases are caused by viruses, whereas most pneumonia cases are due to bacteria.
These infections are usually spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This launches tiny droplets of fluid containing the virus or bacteria into the air, where they can be breathed in by others.
The infections can also be spread to others if you cough or sneeze onto your hand, an object or a surface, and someone else shakes your hand or touches those surfaces before touching their mouth or nose.
Certain groups of people have a higher risk of developing serious chest infections, such as:
- babies and very young children
- children with developmental problems
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Is Bacterial Pneumonia Contagious
Whether or not bacterial pneumonia is contagious depends upon the type of bacteria causing the infection. In many cases, people contract pneumonia when bacteria they normally carry in the nose or throat are spread to the lungs. Most kinds of bacterial pneumonia are not highly contagious. However, pneumonia due to Mycoplasma pneumoniae and tuberculosis are exceptions. Both these types of bacterial pneumonia are highly contagious. These are spread among people by breathing in infected droplets that come from coughing or sneezing, similar to the spread of viral infections.
Who Is At Risk For Pneumonia
Anyone can get pneumonia, but certain factors increase your risk for developing the illness. These include:
- Being younger than two years of age
- Being 65 years and older
- Having lung disease, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder or cystic fibrosis
- Having other certain health conditions or a weakened immune system due to diabetes, kidney disease, cancer treatment, human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , an organ transplant or other factors
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How To Prevent Pneumonia
Some pneumonias are preventable. Vaccinations are available to prevent pneumonia caused by some viruses and bacteria. Also, living a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet and regularly exercising can minimize the risk of contracting pneumonia. Routine exercise can increase lung health and resistance to infections.
A healthy lifestyle also includes refraining from smoking and drinking too much alcohol to help keep the immune system healthy. Getting plenty of rest and drinking water is yet another way to help prevent illnesses like pneumonia.
Practicing thorough hand washing can also reduce your exposure to germs that can cause pneumonia, especially during cold and flu season. If you cough or sneeze, do your best to do so into a disposable tissue or the elbow of your sleeve, followed by washing your hands. Be sure to disinfect frequently used surfaces such as telephones, countertops, and doorknobs to prevent the spread of germs that can cause pneumonia.
Lastly, if people in your community are sick, do your best to practice social distancing when possible. Reducing your exposure to bacteria and viruses while living a healthy and active lifestyle can play an essential role in maintaining wellness.
When To Seek Medical Care
A physician should be seen if the following symptoms are present: fever and cough after having flu-like symptoms.
A person should go to an ER if these symptoms appear chest pain, shortness of breath, confusion and high fever. If a person has a chronic health problem like diabetes, HIV, or other problems that result in a depressed immune system, he or she should see a physician immediately or go to an ER if even mild pneumonia symptoms develop.
Complications from pneumonia included sepsis, pleural effusion and empyema. Pneumonia can be fatal in up to 30% of severe cases that are managed in the intensive-care setting.
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How Can I Tell If I Have Pneumonia Versus The Common Cold Or The Flu
Do I have a cold or could it be the flu or even pneumonia? Its tough to tell the difference but critical to know when to seek medical care
Watch for these ongoing symptoms that occur in pneumonia:
- Serious congestion or chest pain.
- Difficulty breathing.
- A fever of 102 or higher.
- Coughing that produces pus.
Pneumonia symptoms last longer than cold and flu. If your symptoms arent severe, its okay to try such home remedies as getting more rest, drinking more fluids and taking some over-the-counter medicines and see what happens. But if you dont see improvement in your symptoms after three to five days, or if you are experiencing more serious symptoms such as dizziness or severe difficulty breathing, see your healthcare provider. Dont let it go. Pneumonia-like symptoms in very young children or in adults older than 65 are a cause for concern. Also, pneumonia can cause permanent lung damage if left untreated for too long. And always seek immediate care if you experience chest pain or have breathing difficulties.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Bacterial Versus Viral Pneumonia In Adults
Symptoms of pneumonia can range from mild sometimes called walking pneumonia to severe. How serious your case of pneumonia depends on the particular germ causing pneumonia, your overall health, and your age.
Bacterial pneumonia: Symptoms of bacterial pneumonia can develop gradually or suddenly. Symptoms include:
- High fever
Additional symptoms appearing about a day later include:
- Higher fever
- Shortness of breath
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How To Avoid Catching Pneumonia
Some simple precautions and preventive measures can lower your risk of infection from a contagious form of pneumonia. Here are some pointers to protect yourself and your family:
- Avoid smoking or being around anyone who is smoking to minimize exposure to toxins.12
- If you are infected, always use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing to prevent the germs from dispersing in the air or onto surfaces around you. Throw it out immediately after to avoid contaminating surfaces or passing on the germs.13
- If anyone at home is infected, ensure their cutlery, glasses, and utensils are kept separate from everyone elses and washed separately to avoid contamination.14
- If you or someone around you has pneumonia, be sure to wash your hands often.15
- Lower the risk of catching infections by being vaccinated against them. Some of the infections you can be vaccinated against which could help you avoid catching pneumonia are flu, Hemophilus influenzae type b infection, measles, whooping cough, chicken pox, and pneumococcal disease.16
- If you or someone around you has pneumonia, especially if symptoms are worsening, get treated right away. For bacterial infections, a simple course of oral antibiotics will do the trick, so dont put off getting medical attention.17 You might wind up infecting someone if you dont.
How Can You Catch Pneumoniaand Who’s Most At Risk
When pneumonia is caused by either bacteria or viruses, it can spread between people in a variety of ways: being exposed to viral particles through uncovered coughs or sneezes, sharing drinks or utensils with an infected person, or even touching a tissue from or taking care of a person with pneumonia. It’s important to note that these are mainly examples of community-acquired pneumonia, which occurs when someone develops pneumonia in the general community, per the CDC.
Anyone can get pneumonia, according to the ALA, but some people are at a greater risk for having severe pneumonia than others. Those include:
- People age 65 and over.
- Children under two years old.
- People with chronic lung diseases like COPD or cystic fibrosis.
- People with serious chronic illnesses, like heart disease, diabetes, and sickle cell disease.
- People with a weakened immune system due to HIV/AIDs, an organ transplant, chemotherapy, or long-term steroid use.
- People with difficulty swallowing.
- Those who had a recent respiratory infection, like a cold, laryngitis, or the flu.
- People who have been recently hospitalized.
- People who abuse drugs and alcohol.
- Exposure to certain chemicals, pollutants, or toxic fumes, including secondhand smoke.
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