What Is A Chest Infection And Why Can It Happen After Surgery
Chest infections are caused by bacteria or a virus. General anaesthetics affect the normal way that phlegm is moved out of the lungs. Pain from the operation can mean that taking a deep breath or coughing is difficult. As a result of these two things, phlegm can build up in the lungs. Within the phlegm an infection can develop. Pneumonia is a type of chest infection, and you may also hear the name ‘lower respiratory tract infection’, or ‘LRTI’.
Spreading Pneumonia To Others
If your pneumonia is caused by a virus or bacteria, you may spread the infection to other people while you are contagious. How long you are contagious depends on what is causing the pneumonia and whether you get treatment. You may be contagious for several days to a week.
If you get antibiotics, you usually cannot spread the infection to others after a day of treatment.
Why Is My Face Flushed The Day After Surgery
Flushing is seen frequently at induction of anaesthesia, is associated with anaesthetic agents such as thiopental and muscle relaxants, and is attributed to histamine release. The changes are generally confined to the neck and upper chest .The incidence of flushing on induction of anaesthesia in patients who
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How To Use The Incentive Spirometer
Sit up as straight as you can. If youre in a hospital bed, sit on the edge of your bed or raise the head of your bed so youre sitting up straight.
Hold the incentive spirometer in an upright position.
Put the mouthpiece in your mouth and close your lips tightly around it forming a seal.
Breathe in slowly and as deeply as you can to raise the piston in the air cylinder up to the top of the cylinder.
Hold your breath as long as you can , then let the piston fall to the bottom of the air cylinder.
Rest for a few seconds and repeat the steps above at least 10 times every hour while youre awake.
After each set of 10 deep breaths, do the coughing exercise described prior.
After surgery, probably one of the best things you can do for your lungs is to walk. Once youre walking sufficiently well, you typically dont need to continue with the breathing exercises .
What Are The Symptoms Of Postoperative Pneumonia
In many cases, postoperative pneumonia can cause coughing, difficulty breathing, and chest pain. However, because patients are sometimes intubated or unconscious following surgery, it can be difficult to recognize these symptoms. Other things to watch out for include fever, chills, rigor, increased heart rate, decreased blood pressure, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, impaired cognition, and an overall feeling of being unwell.
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How Serious Is It If I Get A Chest Infection
If you were previously healthy, you are very likely to recover fully from a post-operative chest infection. But rarely, people who were well before their surgery die from pneumonia afterwards. If you were not previously healthy and had long-standing lung disease or another long standing illness, then you are more likely to have a serious life-threatening post-operative chest infection. However, many people with previous lung disease recover after a post-operative chest infection. Your anaesthetist will be able to talk to you about the risks which apply to you.
How Is It Treated
Antibiotics are the usual treatment, because the organism may not be found. But if the pneumonia is caused by a virus, antivirals may be given. Sometimes, antibiotics may be used to prevent complications.
Antibiotics usually cure pneumonia caused by bacteria. Be sure to take the antibiotics exactly as instructed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
Pneumonia can make you feel very sick. But after you take antibiotics, you should start to feel much better, although you will probably not be back to normal for several weeks. Call your doctor if you do not start to feel better after 2 to 3 days of antibiotics. Call your doctor right away if you feel worse.
There are things you can do to feel better during your treatment. Get plenty of rest and sleep, and drink lots of liquids. Do not smoke. If your cough keeps you awake at night, talk to your doctor about using cough medicine.
You may need to go to the hospital if you have bad symptoms, a weak immune system, or another serious illness.
How Do You Know If You Have A Post
- Doctors and physiotherapists listen to your chest with a stethoscope. They can hear extra crackles and wheezes.
- If you have an X-ray of the chest, the infection can be seen on the X-ray.
- Blood tests can also show that you have an infection.
- A sample of your sputum can be sent to the lab to try to identify any bacteria which are causing the infection.
- Sometimes the heart rate becomes faster and the blood pressure can fall. These are signs of a serious chest infection.
Returning To Everyday Activities
Regardless of whether you could treat your pneumonia at home or you were hospitalized for pneumonia, the best thing you can do is take care of yourself as you recover. Here are some recovery tips:
- Stay home:Be sure you stay home until your fever breaks and your coughing is at least minimal. Staying home and resting not only improves your recovery, it also protects anyone you come into contact with from getting sick.
- Get plenty of rest:Take naps when you need to, and hang low while recovering.
- Drink plenty of fluids:This will help keep your body hydrated as it works to flush out your illness.
- Complete prescription medication: Make sure to complete the full course of any antibiotics, even if youre feeling better.
- Pace yourself:Ease into your typical everyday life.
Pneumonia is a serious infection capable of damaging your lungs. While many people seem to recover from pneumonia fully, its possible your lungs will not be able to return to the same level of activity as before.
This possibility is just one reason why its important to slowly ramp up your activity level as you heal, and practice any breathing techniques your healthcare provider may recommend.
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What Causes Pneumonia After Surgery
There are several things that put you at a higher risk of pneumonia after surgery:
- Aspiration into airways: After surgery, you may breathe food particles, saliva, vomit and other things into your airways. This process is called aspiration in medical terms, and is a major factor that causes pneumonia after surgery.
- Diminished immune response due to stress of surgery and illness
- Collapse of lower parts of the lungs: After surgery you may not take deep enough breaths due to pain or discomfort. The lower parts of your lungs may not expand when you do not take deep breaths. Eventually, the lower parts of your lungs completely collapse. This puts you at a higher risk of getting pneumonia.
- Invasive procedures provide increased opportunity for pneumonia-causing bacteria to invade your body. After surgery, you may need multiple invasive procedures such as IV lines, blood transfusions, tubes down your food pipe, and more. Germs get an opportunity to invade your body and cause pneumonia.
- Presence of drug-resistant germs in the hospital: Hospitals are full of germs that are more resistant to antibiotics than similar germs out in the community. The longer you stay in the hospital, the more you are exposed to these germs. You can get pneumonia after surgery as you are exposed to these germs.
Preventing Lung Problems After Surgery And General Anesthesia
Lung problems are not uncommon after surgery. The anesthesia medications used during surgery can affect how well our lungs work immediately after surgery. Also, inactivity after surgery limits amount of oxygen taken in by our lungs since we dont breath as deeply as we do when we are active, even just doing our daily activities.
There are many kinds of surgery done under general anesthesia. With general anesthesia, you are put to sleep and your breathing is slowed down. The breaths you take are not as deep as you normally take when you are up and active. These shallower breaths keep some of the tiny air sacs in your lungs from fully filling with air. As a result of this, these sacs can flatten. Additionally, following surgery, inactivity, pain, and the side effects of pain medications, can further contribute to this slowed, shallow breathing. This is particularly common after abdominal or chest surgery.
The collapse of these air sacs following surgery is one cause of atelectasis, which is a common minor complication seen in patients undergoing general anesthesia. Atelectasis, if more severe, can lead to hypoxia . Atelectasis can also cause fever. If you not appropriately addressed, atelectasis can lead to complications like pneumonia or even respiratory failure.
If youre in too much pain to take deep breaths, let your doctor or nurse know so that your pain can be better controlled.
What Are The Risk Factors For Empyema And Lung Infection
Factors that put a person at risk for developing infections of the pleura or infections of the lung include:
- Recent surgery or trauma to the chest
- Chronic lung disease
- Viral disease
- Swallowing difficulty
Empyema starts as thin infected tissue that prevents the lung from working. After a few days, this fluid becomes thick , and must be scraped out. If left inside, the gelatinous material turns to a scar on the lung like the peel of an orange. The last stage, pneumothorax, can cause permanent disability.
When To Call A Doctor
- If you notice an opening in your incision, even a small one
- If you notice blood after coughing
- If coughing causes severe pain
- If you cannot brace an incision because it is is too painful
- If you feel too weak to cough or are not strong enough to cough effectively
- If you have difficulty breathing or cannot catch your breath
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The Team To Choose For In
If youve returned home from surgery and youre concerned that you might have developed postoperative pneumonia, you can turn to DispatchHealth for treatment. Were a trusted mobile healthcare provider, and we proudly offer in-home care for pneumonia and a wide array of other conditions affecting seniors and the rest of the population. Receiving treatment in the comfort of your own home minimizes your risk of exposure to germs and eliminates the stress of having to travel to a providers office when youre already not feeling well. In addition to being convenient, our services are also affordable, with many patients paying approximately the same amount that they would at an urgent care clinic. And to ensure that your doctors remain updated on your condition, we can provide them with a detailed report of our services.
Requesting a visit from DispatchHealth is easyyou can do it by simply calling us, downloading our mobile app, or visiting our website. Our skilled team will arrive at your home in a few hours, perform an examination, provide you with a diagnosis, and administer any necessary treatments. In many cases, treatment for postoperative pneumonia involves taking antibiotics, which we can prescribe to you. Contact us today if you have any questions.
An Effective Pilot Program
In the April 2010 Journal of the American College of Surgeons, my colleagues and I reported a study in which we tested a pilot pneumonia-prevention program to assess its effect on reducing the incidence of postoperative pneumonia in a hospital surgical ward. The pilot prevention program was designed and implemented based on an extensive literature review of risk reduction interventions. In the program, physicians and ward staff received education on preventing pneumonia. Other components of the program included:
Cough and deep-breathing exercises with incentive spirometer.Twice daily oral hygiene with chlorhexidine swabs.Ambulation with good pain control.Head-of-bed elevation to at least 30° and sitting up for all meals.
Quarterly staff meetings were also initiated to discuss the results of and compliance with the program. Pneumonia bundle documentation and computerized pneumonia-prevention order sets in the physician order entry system were also key components in the program.
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What Does Getting A Chest Infection Mean For My Recovery
If you get a post-operative chest infection, your discharge from hospital will be delayed by days or weeks.
Chest infections can have many complications. Fluid can build up in the lungs or infection can spread in the bloodstream to affect other organs in your body. Specific treatment is given for these on the ward or in the intensive care unit. If you are admitted to the intensive care unit, your recovery is likely to be very slow indeed.
Most people who get a post-operative chest infection go on to make a full recovery without long-term effects.
Some comments from patients:
My breathing meant I had to stay in bed, I couldnt walk, I couldnt eat because when I took the mask off, my breathing got harder and the oxygen levels in my blood dropped very low.
My brother who had near enough the same type of surgery was out in a week but I was in just over a month.
I didnt expect it to be as bad as it was. I thought the antibiotics into my vein would clear me right up but I had to have three different types and the last one affected my kidneys which made me even sicker.
Content used with permission from the Royal College of Anaesthetists website: Post-operative chest infection . Copyright for this leaflet is with the Royal College of Anaesthetists.
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Top 9 Ways To Reduce The Risk Of Pneumonia If You Or A Loved One Is Hospitalized
What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. A variety of organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi, can cause pneumonia. Certain people are more likely to get sick with pneumonia including adults 65 years of age or older children younger than 5 years of age people who have medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or asthma and people who smoke cigarettes.
Being in the hospital can place a patient at a higher risk of developing pneumonia because of procedures that disrupt normal breathing, like needing a breathing tube , inactivity, or taking certain medications.
What steps can I take with my healthcare team to prevent pneumonia when Im in the hospital?
1. Clean your hands and make sure that your healthcare providers do the same. Keeping your hands clean is the number one way to prevent the spread of infection. Clean your hands after using the bathroom after sneezing, blowing your nose, or coughing before eating when visiting someone who is sick or whenever your hands are dirty. This applies to visitors too.
3. Wear the right things Healthcare providers should wear gowns, gloves, masks, or face shields when performing certain tasks like suctioning the patients secretions and inserting a breathing tube, and change them after they are soiled with respiratory secretions. Protective coverings keep germs from moving from healthcare providers to patients.
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What Can Prevent Infection
There are special hygiene regulations in hospitals to protect people from nosocomial infections especially hand disinfection. Cleaning and disinfecting floors and surfaces and disposing of waste is also important, though.
Certain multi-resistant germs can enter the hospital from outside and then spread there. That is why residents of retirement homes in need of care are tested for multi-resistant when they come into a hospital, for example to see if these bacteria are found in their nose or on chronic wounds. Special rules then apply during the hospital stay if bacteria are discovered. They may include being given a single room or having visitors and staff put on a mask and gown before entering the room and disinfect their hands after the visit.
Pneumonia can also be caused by food going down the wrong way, and from the mouth entering the lungs. That is why patients in intensive care are given special assistance with oral hygiene. Studies suggest that this can help to prevent nosocomial pneumonia. But there were problems with much of the research. For example, the researchers looked into very different measures, from antiseptic mouthwashes to professional teeth-cleaning.
How Do You Get Pneumonia
You may get pneumonia:
- After you breathe infected air particles into your lungs.
- After you breathe certain bacteria from your nose and throat into your lungs.
- During or after a viral upper respiratory infection, such as a cold or influenza .
- As a complication of a viral illness, such as measles or chickenpox.
- If you breathe large amounts of food, gastric juices from the stomach, or vomit into the lungs . This can happen when you have had a medical condition that affects your ability to swallow, such as a seizure or a stroke.
A healthy person’s nose and throat often contain bacteria or viruses that cause pneumonia. Pneumonia can develop when these organisms spread to your lungs while your lungs are more likely to be infected. Examples of times when this can happen are during or soon after a cold or if you have a long-term illness, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .
You can get pneumonia in your daily life, such as at school or work or when you are in a hospital or nursing home . Treatment may differ in healthcare-associated pneumonia, because bacteria causing the infection in hospitals may be different from those causing it in the community. This topic focuses on community-associated pneumonia.
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