When Antibiotics Are Needed
Antibiotics are only needed for treating certain infections caused by bacteria, but even some bacterial infections get better without antibiotics. We rely on antibiotics to treat serious, life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia and , the bodys extreme response to an infection. Effective antibiotics are also needed for people who are at high risk for developing infections. Some of those at high risk for infections include patients undergoing surgery, patients with end-stage kidney disease, or patients receiving cancer therapy .
Dealing With Patients’ Expectations
Consumer education was the most common strategy reported by participants to manage patients’ expectations and demands for antibiotics. Education was often given after expectations were identified and often in response to patients’ demands. Common approaches included talking to the patient and providing the patient with information such as print-offs or handouts. Some participants used personalised written information and communicated with patients in their own language as strategies to deal with patients expectations.
Some of the key educational messages delivered by participants include:
URTI is likely to be a viral infection, and that antibiotics are only necessary for bacterial infections.
Antibiotics are not needed to treat URTIs, and they may not make you feel better any sooner.
Several barriers to effective patient communication and education were identified by participants including limited time with patients to explain, limited educational resources that met the needs of specific patient groups and communication barriers .
In Older Adults And Children
Older adults may have different, fewer, or milder symptoms, such as having no fever or having a cough with no mucus . The major sign of pneumonia in older adults may be a change in how clearly they think or when a lung disease they already have gets worse.
In children, symptoms may depend on age:
- In infants younger than 1 month of age, symptoms may include having little or no energy , feeding poorly, grunting, or having a fever.
- In children, symptoms of pneumonia are often the same as in adults. Your doctor will look for signs such as a cough and a faster breathing rate.
Some conditions with symptoms similar to pneumonia include bronchitis, COPD, and tuberculosis.
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Outpatient Vs Inpatient Treatment
Choosing between outpatient and inpatient treatment is a crucial decision because of the possible risk of death.9,15,16 This decision not only influences diagnostic testing and medication choices, it can have a psychological impact on patients and their families. On average, the estimated cost for inpatient care of patients with CAP is $7,500. Outpatient care can cost as little as $150 to $350.1719 Hospitalization of a patient should depend on patient age, comorbidities, and the severity of the presenting disease.9,20
Physicians tend to overestimate a patients risk of death14 therefore, many low-risk patients who could be safely treated as out-patients are admitted for more costly inpatient care. The Pneumonia Severity Index was developed to assist physicians in identifying patients at a higher risk of complications and who are more likely to benefit from hospitalization.9,15,16 Investigators developed a risk model based on a prospective cohort study16 of 2,287 patients with CAP in Pittsburgh, Boston, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. By using the model, the authors found that 26 to 31 percent of the hospitalized patients were good outpatient candidates, and an additional 13 to 19 percent only needed brief hospital observation. They validated this model using data17 from more than 50,000 patients with CAP in 275 U.S. and Canadian hospitals.1517,21,22
Information from reference 15.
Questions To Bring Up At Your Doctors Visit
Its normal to have questions about antibiotics, so dont hesitate to ask your doctor!
Antibiotics arent completely risk-free, so youll want to make sure you understand why youre taking them and how to take them safely if your doctor prescribes them. Consider asking these questions:
How does this antibiotic treat my infection?
What should I do if I dont start feeling better even after Ive finished my antibiotics?
What kinds of side effects should I expect?
How long will it take for the antibiotics to work?
Could this antibiotic interact with any medications or supplements Im taking already?
How will I know if Im allergic to this antibiotic?
Between your doctors expert advice and these tips on how to take antibiotics, you should be well-prepared for a safe course of treatment.
If your doctor doesnt prescribe antibiotics, it doesnt mean you wont get better. Answers to these questions may help you understand how you can manage your infection without antibiotics:
Why wont antibiotics treat this infection?
How can I manage the symptoms of this infection without antibiotics?
What should I do if I dont start feeling better soon?
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What Is Walking Pneumonia
Walking pneumonia is a mild case of pneumonia. It is often caused by a virus or the mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria. When you have walking pneumonia, your symptoms may not be as severe or last as long as someone who has a more serious case of pneumonia. You probably wont need bed rest or to stay in the hospital when you have walking pneumonia.
Cost Of Antimicrobial Therapy
Economic pressures have accentuated the focus on reducing health care costs and utilizing resources while maintaining or improving quality of care.31 These pressures are exacerbated by the growing resistance of S. pneumoniae to penicillin.31,32 This pattern of resistance increases the cost of treatment because of prolonged hospitalization, relapses, and the use of more expensive antibacterial agents.3337
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Cough And Cold Medicines
Be careful with cough and cold medicines. They may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems, so check the label first. If you do use these medicines, always follow the directions about how much to use based on age and weight.
Always check to see if any over-the-counter cough or cold medicines you are taking contain acetaminophen. If they do, make sure the acetaminophen you are taking in your cold medicine plus any other acetaminophen you may be taking is not higher than the daily recommended dose. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how much you can take every day.
When Should I See My Doctor
Pneumonia can be life-threatening if left untreated, especially for certain at-risk people. You should call your doctor if you have a cough that wont go away, shortness of breath, chest pain, or a fever. You should also call your doctor if you suddenly begin to feel worse after having a cold or the flu.
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How Is Walking Pneumonia Different From Regular Pneumonia
Walking pneumonia differs from typical pneumonia in several ways, including:
- Walking pneumonia is a milder form of pneumonia.
- Walking pneumonia usually does not require bed rest or hospitalization.
- Walking pneumonia is usually caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Typical pneumonia is most commonly caused by _Streptococcus _pneumonia or influenza virus or rhinovirus.
Is There A Vaccine For Pneumonia
There isnt a vaccine for all types of pneumonia, but 2 vaccines are available. These help prevent pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria. The first is recommended for all children younger than 5 years of age. The second is recommended for anyone age 2 or older who is at increased risk for pneumonia. Getting the pneumonia vaccine is especially important if you:
- Are 65 years of age or older.
- Have certain chronic conditions, such as asthma, lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, sickle cell disease, or cirrhosis.
- Have a weakened immune system because of HIV/AIDS, kidney failure, a damaged or removed spleen, a recent organ transplant, or receiving chemotherapy.
- Have cochlear implants .
The pneumococcal vaccines cant prevent all cases of pneumonia. But they can make it less likely that people who are at risk will experience the severe, and possibly life-threatening, complications of pneumonia.
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Strengths And Limitations Of This Study
The use of concurrent mixed methods provided a more comprehensive insight into the prescribing practices of antibiotics for an upper respiratory tract infection in primary care.
There was a good representation of practice types, age, gender, location of general practitioners in the survey and the interviews. Younger general practitioners were underrepresented in the survey.
It is difficult to ascertain whether general practitioners who did not participate in either the survey or the semistructured interview would have different prescribing patterns.
How Long Youll Take Them
A course of antibiotics for uncomplicated pneumonia treatment is usually for five to seven days. One course will usually be enough to cure your pneumonia. In some cases, you may need more than one course of antibiotics if your infection doesnt start improving or it seems like its not responding to the medications.
Stay in touch with your doctor to ensure your infection is clearing up. Youll likely start to feel better and have some symptom relief one to three days after you start your pneumonia treatment, but it may take a week or more for your symptoms to go away completely.
Taking your medication as prescribed, especially for antibiotics, is incredibly important. Even if youre feeling better, you need to take the entire course.
Do not stop taking antibiotics early, even if your symptoms improve, as the infection would not be fully treated and could become antibiotic-resistant. This will make treatment more complicated. If youre experiencing side effects, talk to your doctor. Only stop your medication if your doctor tells you its OK to do so.
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Antivirals For Treating The Flu
Even though antibiotics arent effective against the flu, there are antiviral medications that your doctor can prescribe within a certain time frame.
If these drugs are started within two days of developing flu symptoms, they can help to make your symptoms less severe or shorten the duration of your illness.
Antiviral drugs that are available to treat flu include:
Theres also a new medication called baloxavir marboxil . This antiviral drug was created by a Japanese pharmaceutical company, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October 2018, and is now available to treat people 12 years or older who have had flu symptoms for no more than 48 hours.
Some antiviral drugs, including oseltamivir, zanamivir, and peramivir, work by preventing the virus from being properly released from an infected cell. This inhibition prevents newly formed virus particles from going along the respiratory tract to infect healthy cells.
The newly approved medication above, Xofluza, works by reducing the virus ability to replicate. But theyre arent usually necessary to get over the flu, and they dont kill the influenza virus.
Its not an antiviral medication like those noted above, but the seasonal flu vaccine is available every year and is the best way to prevent becoming ill with the flu.
Signs And Symptoms Of A Chest Infection
The main symptoms of a chest infection can include:
- coughing up yellow or green phlegm , or coughing up blood
- breathlessness or rapid and shallow breathing
- chest pain or tightness
- feeling confused and disorientated
You may also experience more general symptoms of an infection, such as a headache, fatigue, sweating, loss of appetite, or joint and muscle pain.
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What Are The Causes Of Pneumonia
Pneumonia is commonly caused by an infection with a germ. The germ is usually a bacterium or a virus. There are three or four different bacteria that are the most common causes of pneumonia. There is also a well-known group of bacteria that causes pneumonia in about 3 out of 10 cases. They are called atypicals. Other germs such as fungi, yeasts, or protozoa can sometimes also cause pneumonia.
Rarely, non-infective pneumonia is caused by inhaling poisons or chemicals. Many different substances can cause this. They can be in the form of liquids, gases, small particles, dust or fumes.
You may breathe in some bacteria, viruses, or other germs. If you are normally healthy, a small number of germs usually doesn’t matter. They will be trapped in your phlegm and killed by your immune system. Sometimes the germs multiply and cause lung infections. This is more likely to happen if you are already in poor health – for example:
- If you are frail or elderly.
- If you have a chest disease.
- If you have a low immunity to infection. Low immunity can be caused by such things as alcohol dependence, AIDS, or another serious illness.
However, even healthy people sometimes develop pneumonia.
Pneumonia can sometimes develop after an operation, particularly in the region of your head or neck. Having an anaesthetic can increase the risk.
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.
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How To Treat Pneumonia At Home
Since you can successfully treat many cases of pneumonia at home, its essential to follow your doctors instructions closely. Make sure you take any drugs prescribed and that you complete the course of antibiotics.
Its essential to get plenty of rest and to drink lots of fluids. Resist the temptation to go back to work or school too soon, as this could result in a recurrence of your pneumonia.
How Do You Diagnose Pneumonia
- Symptoms – a doctor will suspect pneumonia from asking about your symptoms and how you are feeling. They may also ask about your medical history and that of your family. They will be interested in whether you smoke, how much and for how long. The examination may include checking your temperature. Sometimes your doctor will check how much oxygen is circulating around your body. This is done with a small device that sits on the end of your finger. The doctor will listen to your chest, so they may want you to lift or take off your top. If you want a chaperone during the examination, the doctor will arrange one. If you have asthma, they may ask you to check your peak flow measurement. They will listen to your chest with a stethoscope. Tapping your chest over the infected lung is also sometimes performed. This is called percussion. An area of infected lung may sound dull.
- X-ray – a chest X-ray may be required to confirm the diagnosis and to see how serious the infection is.
- Other tests – these tests are usually carried out if you need to be admitted to hospital. They include sending a sample of phlegm for analysis and blood cultures to check if the infection has spread to your blood.
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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
Is Walking Pneumonia Contagious If So How Is It Spread And Who Is Most At Risk
Yes, walking pneumonia caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae is contagious . When an infected person coughs or sneezes, tiny droplets containing the bacteria become airborne and can be inhaled by others who are nearby.
The infection can be easily spread in crowded or shared living spaces such as homes, schools, dormitories and nursing homes. It tends to affect younger adults and school-aged children more than older adults.
The risk of getting more severe pneumonia is even higher among those who have existing respiratory conditions such as:
The symptoms of walking pneumonia may come on slowly, beginning one to four weeks after exposure. During the later stages of the illness, symptoms may worsen, the fever may become higher, and coughing may bring up discolored phlegm .
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What Are The Treatment Options
Viral pneumonia usually goes away on its own. Therefore, treatment focuses on easing some of the symptoms. A person with viral pneumonia should get sufficient rest and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
A doctor may prescribe cough-relieving medication to help ease coughing. People should only take cough suppressant medicine if and when a doctor instructs them to because coughing helps clear the infection from the lungs. For those with thick lung mucus, a doctor may prescribe a cough expectorant.
In some cases of viral pneumonia, a doctor may prescribe antiviral medication to reduce viral activity. This treatment tends to be most effective when the virus is in the early stage of infection.
In rare instances, a doctor may hospitalize a person with viral pneumonia. People over the age of 65 or with chronic health conditions are more likely to need hospital care. The very young are also at higher risk for serious viral pneumonia.
The viruses that cause viral pneumonia are contagious. During the cold and flu season, a person can take steps to stay healthy. These steps may protect against viral pneumonia and other viral illnesses.
Some techniques that people can use to try to prevent getting sick include: