Pneumonia In Colder Weather
With the weather getting colder and wetter in the Pacific Northwest, were all more susceptible to catch colds and the flu. Whats also more common in the winter monthsbecause more of us stay indoors and in close quarters with one anotheris pneumonia.
In this post, well clarify what pneumonia is, how a person catches it, what symptoms to watch for if you think you have pneumonia, what can happen if it is left untreated and how soon you should seek help if you believe you have pneumonia.
Protection From Cold And Flu
The most important thing to remember during cold and flu season is to protect yourself against these germs when you are around other people.
Be sure to wash your hands often or use an alcohol-hased hand sanitizer if you can’t get to a sink. Try to avoid touching your face as much as possible, since that is how most respiratory germs enter the body.
You can also protect yourself against illness by getting your yearly flu vaccine, avoiding people who you know are sick, and taking care of your body by eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep at night.
When A Cold Becomes Bronchitis
Coughing is your bodys way of getting rid of mucus in the chest. Its a healthy reflex. But when a cough persists long after cold symptoms are gone, its probably a case of bronchitis.
If your cough produces thickening, darker mucus, keeps you awake at night, or lasts more than three weeks, its time to call your doctor. Likewise, if your fever is over 100.4F, or you are having consistent difficulty breathing.
The bronchial tubes are passageways that carry air deep into your lungs. When the inner lining of these tubes becomes inflamed and swells up, breathing becomes difficult.
On top of that, the membranes in the bronchial tubes secrete extra mucus to soothe the irritation. The persistent coughing of bronchitis is a way to try and move that mucus up and out.
Clear mucus isnt a problem, but if youre coughing up green or yellow phlegm, its a sign of infection.
Other symptoms of bronchitis can include:
- a low fever,
- tightness or pain in your chest,
- wheezing ,
- and shortness of breath.
If you have bronchitis, you will also feel extremely fatigued. Restricted airways mean less than optimal oxygen being taken in. Respect this symptom, and give your body the rest it is asking for.
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Getting Treatment For Pneumonia
Once youve been diagnosed, your doctor can begin treating your pneumonia. In most cases, you can be treated at home. However, your doctor may choose to hospitalize you if youre risks of getting worse are high or your symptoms are severe. Common treatment for pneumonia includes:
- Antibiotics, which target and treat bacterial infections. More than one type of antibiotic may be needed to treat your pneumonia.
- Cough medicine to help reduce coughing and allow for more rest.
- Pain reliever/fever reducer to help bring down your fever and pain symptoms. Most over-the-counter medications should work, but your doctor may recommend specific medications.
If you have pneumonia signs or symptoms, dont wait too long before you contact your doctor. Getting the right treatment will help you feel better more quickly.
What To Expect At Home
You will still have symptoms of pneumonia after you leave the hospital.
- Your cough will slowly get better over 7 to 14 days.
- Sleeping and eating may take up to a week to return to normal.
- Your energy level may take 2 weeks or more to return to normal.
You will need to take time off work. For a while, you might not be able to do other things that you are used to doing.
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Can You Catch Pneumonia More Than Once
Yes. Pneumonia is caused by many different microbes, and so getting it once does not protect you from getting it again. If you get pneumonia more than once you may need to have more investigations to understand why this has happened. It could be due to a problem in your chest or your immune system, and you may be referred to a specialist.
How Do You Treat Walking Pneumonia
Even when your symptoms seem mild and you dont feel that bad, its still important to take care of yourself and seek medical care, especially if your symptoms last for more than a week. Without speedy treatment, a cough caused by walking pneumonia can linger for weeks or months.
MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care will get to the bottom of whats ailing you. Your provider will evaluate your symptoms, perform an exam, and order a chest X-ray and lab tests if needed. If youre diagnosed with walking pneumonia, youll be prescribed antibiotics to knock down the bacteria, which should have you feeling better in a matter of days.
If your condition is non-bacterial, fever-reducing acetaminophen and ibuprofen along with a cough suppressant will help ease your symptoms as you recover. Regardless of the diagnosis, youll also want to get lots of fluids and rest to let your body recuperate.
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Chronic Bronchitis And Pneumonia
So far, weve been describing whats known as acute bronchitis. It comes on, runs its course in a few weeks, and is done.
Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, just doesnt seem to let go. Smoking is often, but not always, the cause. A spirometry test is used to diagnose chronic bronchitis. A chest x-ray will also confirm the diagnosis.
Bronchodilators and steroids are used to control the symptoms of chronic bronchitis.
And yes, chronic bronchitis can lead to pneumonia if left untreated.
Bronchitis infects the airways that lead to the lungs. The infection can travel into the lungs themselves, causing pneumonia.
Diagnosing pneumonia can be tricky and often requires an x-ray to do so. And its nothing to mess around with, especially if youre a senior. So, if symptoms seem worse or are not getting better, get checked to see if your bronchitis has led to pneumonia.
Can A Cold Or Flu Cause Pneumonia
Some flu seasons hit harder than others. Vaccination and good hygiene are key in preventing the spread of cold and flu, but sometimes theres nothing you can do to stop illness from setting in. While colds or influenza are often treatable at home with over-the-counter medicine you shouldnt take these illnesses lightly. These illnesses can lead to serious complications, including pneumonia.
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What Is Pneumonia And How Is It Caused
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages. Dr. Golden listed fever, cough and shortness of breath as early signs that you may have pneumonia. Among the most common causes of pneumonia is influenza. However, other viruses, bacteria and fungi can all cause pneumonia to appear.
The most common type of pneumonia is community-acquired, said Dr. Golden. This means an individual could have picked it up from basically anywhere. They could have contracted it from a strangers stray cough or sneeze, sharing cups or not washing their hands after touching an infected surface. The second type of pneumonia is healthcare-associated pneumonia, which can be contracted from nursing homes, hospitals, jails, etc. Dr. Golden continued to explain that each infection tends to react differently to treatments.
How Can I Prevent Pneumonia
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccination for:
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccination for:
If you have been experiencing pneumonia symptoms, make an appointmentwith your provider today. Prompt treatment of pneumonia isimportant for recovery. Requestan appointment with a family medicine provider to receive your flu andpneumococcal vaccinations.
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Can A Cold Or The Flu Turn Into Pneumonia
Every year, millions of Americans are diagnosed with pneumonia. Although there are many causes, about 33% of people get pneumonia from a cold or flu virus. Catching pneumonia at an early stage is key to a quick recovery. Know the symptoms, treatment and prevention. Because its true. A cold or the flu can turn into pneumonia.
What Is The Outlook For Pneumonia
People who are otherwise healthy often recover quickly when given prompt and proper care. However, pneumonia is a serious condition and can be life-threatening if left untreated and especially for those individuals at increased risk for pneumonia.
Even patients who have been successfully treated and have fully recovered may face long-term health issues. Children who have recovered from pneumonia have an increased risk of chronic lung diseases. Adults may experience:
- General decline in quality of life for months or years
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When Should You Call Your Doctor
The faster you get treatment, the faster you will get over pneumonia. This is especially true for the very young, for people older than 65, and for anyone with other long-lasting health problems, such as asthma.
911 or other emergency services immediately if you:
- Have chest pain that is crushing or squeezing, is increasing in intensity, or occurs with any other symptoms of a heart attack.
- Have such bad trouble breathing that you are worried you will not have the strength or ability to keep breathing.
- Cough up large amounts of blood.
- Feel that you may faint when you sit up or stand.
if you have:
- A cough that produces blood-tinged or rust-coloured mucus from the lungs.
- A fever with shaking chills.
- Difficult, shallow, fast breathing with shortness of breath or wheezing.
- Frequently brings up yellow or green mucus from the lungs and lasts longer than 2 days. Do not confuse mucus from your lungs with mucus running down the back of your throat from your nasal passages . Post-nasal drainage is not a worry.
- Occurs with a fever of 38.3Â°C or higher and brings up yellow or green mucus from the lungs .
- Causes you to vomit a lot.
- Continues longer than 4 weeks.
Also call your doctor if you have new chest pain that gets worse with deep breathing and if you have other symptoms of pneumonia, such as shortness of breath, cough, and fever.
Can Cold Weather Cause Pneumonia
Pneumonia is a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs. The lungs are made up of small sacs called alveoli, which fill with air when a healthy person breathes. When an individual has pneumonia, the alveoli are filled with pus and fluid, which makes breathing painful and limits oxygen intake.
Pneumonia is the single largest infectious cause of death in children worldwide. Pneumonia killed 808 694 children under the age of 5 in 2017, accounting for 15% of all deaths of children under five years old. Pneumonia affects children and families everywhere but is most prevalent in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Children can be protected from pneumonia, it can be prevented with simple interventions, and treated with low-cost, low-tech medication and care.
In Nigeria, 19% of child deaths were due to pneumonia in 2018, and it was the biggest killer of children under-five in 2017. There are an estimated 56 million episodes of lung infections among Nigerian children every year. Although not all episodes will lead to death, these infections nevertheless cause suffering and require treatment
Pneumonia is caused by a number of infectious agents, including viruses, bacteria, and fungi. The most common are:
Streptococcus pneumoniae the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in children
Haemophilus influenzae type b the second most common cause of bacterial pneumonia
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Your Cold Won’t Go Away
For most people cold symptoms usually go away within a few days, these could include a snotty nose or a cough.
It can be easy to mistake pneumonia for a stubborn cold that won’t shift.
Bacteria and viruses are the most common causes of pneumonia and when a virus causes pneumonia it’s more likely that you will notice symptoms over several days.
Early signs will look a lot like a cold or the flu and will include a fever, dry cough, headache and weakness, and these symptoms will continue to get worse.
Your doctor might ask you how long you’ve had your cough and whether or not you’re coughing up mucus and if so what colour it is.
More Severe Cases May Also Cause:
- quick breathing
- rapid heartbeat
- nausea and vomiting
Some people get a sharp pain in their chest when they breathe in and out. This may be because the thin lining between the lung and ribcage, called the pleura, is infected and inflamed. This inflammation, called pleurisy, stops your lungs moving smoothly as you breathe.
The symptoms of pneumonia are often very similar to those of other chest infections, such as bronchitis, COPD flare-ups or bronchiectasis flare-ups. To get a proper diagnosis youll need to visit your GP.
If you feel unwell with these symptoms, see your GP or call 111. If you have chest pain, a rapid heartbeat, quick breathing, shivers or confusion, get urgent advice from your GP or call 999. Take extra care if youre over 65.
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What Are The Treatments For Pneumonia
Treatment for pneumonia depends on the type of pneumonia, which germ is causing it, and how severe it is:
- Antibiotics treat bacterial pneumonia and some types of fungal pneumonia. They do not work for viral pneumonia.
- In some cases, your provider may prescribe antiviral medicines for viral pneumonia
- Antifungal medicines treat other types of fungal pneumonia
You may need to be treated in a hospital if your symptoms are severe or if you are at risk for complications. While there, you may get additional treatments. For example, if your blood oxygen level is low, you may receive oxygen therapy.
It may take time to recover from pneumonia. Some people feel better within a week. For other people, it can take a month or more.
Frequently Asked Questions: Pneumonia Or Cold
What does it feel like when you have pneumonia?
If you have had a cold and suddenly feel really and truly sick, you may wonder, What does pneumonia feel like? Generally speaking, pneumonia feels pretty awful, and the signs and symptoms of pneumonia usually tell you that something is definitely wrong. You will experience pain when you breathe or cough, fever and chills, significant fatigue and shortness of breath. Even if you have mild or walking pneumonia, you will still feel pretty terrible. So, if you have a cold that takes a turn for the worse, see your doctor to get checked for pneumonia.
When should I call a doctor if I think it is pneumonia?If you or a loved one has signs of pneumonia, make an appointment to see your doctor. Pneumonia can get worse quickly, and you will want to know what kind of pneumonia you have so you can treat it properly. If you or a loved one experience trouble breathing, have severe chest pain, a high fever or worsening symptoms, seek medical attention right away. If you or a loved one is in a high risk population, do not hesitate to seek medical attention, as pneumonia can develop into a life-threatening condition.
2 WebMD. What is pneumonia? March 17, 2011.
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Signs Of Pneumonia In Small Children And Older Adults
If you see signs and symptoms of pneumonia in your small child, it is important to see your doctor right away. Pneumonia is the number one most common reason for children in the United States to be hospitalized, and is the worlds leading cause of death for children under 5 years old. If you have any doubts about whether your young child may have pneumonia, seek medical attention just in case.
Older people are at a higher risk of developing and dying from pneumonia. Symptoms of pneumonia in older adults may be different than those in their younger counterparts. They may be fewer or less severe,may not include a fever and a cough may not produce mucus. One of the primary symptoms of pneumonia in older folks is confusion or delirium. You may also see a bluish tinge to the lips and fingertips. Those with pre-existing lung conditions may become sicker faster than those with healthier lungs.
If you recognize any of the pneumonia warning signs mentioned above, contact your doctor as soon as possible for a thorough physical examination and diagnostic testing.
Questions About Your Symptoms
Bacterial pneumonia, which is the most common form, tends to be more serious than other types of pneumonia, with symptoms that require medical care. The symptoms of bacterial pneumonia can develop gradually or suddenly. Fever may rise as high as a dangerous 105 degrees F, with profuse sweating and rapidly increased breathing and pulse rate. Lips and nailbeds may have a bluish color due to lack of oxygen in the blood. A patient’s mental state may be confused or delirious.
The symptoms of viral pneumonia usually develop over a period of several days. Early symptoms are similar to influenza symptoms: fever, a dry cough, headache, muscle pain, and weakness. Within a day or two, the symptoms typically get worse, with increasing cough, shortness of breath and muscle pain. There may be a high fever and there may be blueness of the lips.
Symptoms may vary in certain populations. Newborns and infants may not show any signs of the infection. Or, they may vomit, have a fever and cough, or appear restless, sick, or tired and without energy. Older adults and people who have serious illnesses or weak immune systems may have fewer and milder symptoms. They may even have a lower than normal temperature. Older adults who have pneumonia sometimes have sudden changes in mental awareness. For individuals that already have a chronic lung disease, those symptoms may worsen.
When to call a doctor
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