What Is Covid Pneumonia
Dr. Lee: Pneumonia occurs when a bacterial or viral infection causes significant damage and inflammation in the lungs. The resulting fluid and debris build-up makes it hard for a person to breathe sometimes to such an extent that oxygen therapy or ventilator support is required. Regardless of the bacteria or virus causing it, pneumonia can become very serious, even life-threatening.
In the case of COVID pneumonia, the damage to the lungs is caused by the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
When COVID pneumonia develops, it causes additional symptoms, such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Increased heart rate
- Low blood pressure
What’s more is that COVID pneumonia often occurs in both lungs, rather than just one lung or the other. Additionally, the widespread inflammation that occurs in some people with COVID-19 can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome a severe type of lung failure.
Like other respiratory infections that cause pneumonia, COVID-19 can cause short-term lung damage. In more severe cases, the damage can last a long time. In fact, early data is showing that up to a third of COVID pneumonia patients have evidence of scarring on X-rays or lung testing a year after the infection.
Ongoing Controversies Regarding Etiology Diagnosis Treatment
Aerosolized antibiotics and mucolytics have documented benefit in CF, but there is limited data supporting their use in other disease states. Although a wide variety of airway clearance techniques are available, there are no comparative studies to favor one over the other.
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What Is Viral Pneumonia
Viruses are responsible for about one-third of all pneumonias, and they’re the most common cause of pneumonia in children younger than age 5.
Viral pneumonias tend to clear up in about one to three weeks, but they can increase your risk for bacterial pneumonia.
Viral pneumonia is usually less serious than bacterial pneumonia.
At first, the symptoms of viral pneumonia may be similar to symptoms often associated with the flu, except you may experience a dry cough that does not produce phlegm. You may also develop a fever and headache.
But within a couple of days, these symptoms typically get worse.
Adults with viral pneumonia can also expect to develop:
- Sore throat
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle pain
The flu virus is the most common cause of viral pneumonia in adults, which tends to be more serious in people with heart or lung disease, senior citizens, and pregnant women.
Not only can influenza cause pneumonia, it can also predispose people to bacterial pneumonia yet another good reason to get the yearly flu shot.
Respiratory syncytial virus pneumonia is usually a mild infection that clears up in about a week or two. It can be more severe and is more common in young children and older adults. In fact, RSV is the most common cause of pneumonia in children younger than 12 months.
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What Other Problems Can Pneumonia Cause
Sometimes pneumonia can cause serious complications such as:
- Bacteremia, which happens when the bacteria move into the bloodstream. It is serious and can lead to .
- Lung abscesses, which are collections of pus in cavities of the lungs
- Pleural disorders, which are conditions that affect the pleura. The pleura is the tissue that covers the outside of the lungs and lines the inside of your chest cavity.
- Respiratory failure
How Soon After Treatment For Pneumonia Will I Begin To Feel Better
How soon you will feel better depends on several factors, including:
- Your age
- The cause of your pneumonia
- The severity of your pneumonia
- If you have other at-risk conditions
If you are generally healthy, most symptoms of bacterial pneumonia usually begin to improve within 24 to 48 hours after starting treatment. Symptoms of viral pneumonia usually begin to improve within a few days after starting treatment. A cough can last for several weeks. Most people report being tired for about a month after contracting pneumonia.
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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.
What Causes Valley Fever
There are two forms of Coccidioides immitis. One form grows beneath the hot desert sands and soils. Disturbing the sand causes the tiny branches of the fungus to break apart and release individual spores . These microscopic spores are then inhaled and settle into the branching system of the lungs. The spores then transform into thick walled spherules, within which, on maturity, thousands of endospores develop . It is the yeast forms in tissue that allow the diagnosis of Coccidioides immitis to be made.
Although the spores are very infectious, Valley fever is not contagious it cannot spread from person to person.
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What Can I Do To Feel Better If I Have Pneumonia
- Finish all medications and therapies prescribed by your doctor. Do not stop taking antibiotics when you start feeling better. Continue taking them until no pills remain. If you dont take all your antibiotics, your pneumonia may come back.
- If over-the-counter medicines to reduce fever have been recommended , take as directed on the label. Never give aspirin to children.
- Drink plenty of fluids to help loosen phlegm.
- Quit smoking if you smoke. Dont be around others who smoke or vape. Surround yourself with as much clean, chemical-free air as possible.
- Use a humidifier, take a steamy shower or bath to make it easier for you to breathe.
- Get lots of rest. Dont rush your recovery. It can take weeks to get your full strength back.
If at any time you start to feel worse, call your doctor right away.
How Is Walking Pneumonia Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, how long youve had them and if any other family members or people you regularly interact with are also ill with similar symptoms. He or she will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope to check for abnormal breath sounds. Your doctor may order chest X-rays to see if there is an infection in your lungs. Your blood or mucus might be tested to determine if your pneumonia is caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae, another bacteria, virus or fungus.
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How Is Pneumonia Spread From Person To Person
Pneumonia is spread when droplets of fluid containing the pneumonia bacteria or virus are launched in the air when someone coughs or sneezes and then inhaled by others. You can also get pneumonia from touching an object previously touched by the person with pneumonia or touching a tissue used by the infected person and then touching your mouth or nose.
Are Vaccines Available To Prevent Pneumonia
Yes, there are two types of vaccines specifically approved to prevent pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria. Similar to a flu shot, these vaccines wont protect against all types of pneumonia, but if you do come down with pneumonia, its less likely to be as severe or potentially life-threatening especially for people who are at increased risk for pneumonia.
- Bacterial pneumonia: Two pneumonia vaccines, Pneumovax23® and Prevnar13®, protect against the most common causes of bacterial pneumonia.
- Pneumovax23® protects against 23 different types of pneumococcal bacteria. It is recommended for all adults 65 years of age and older and children over 2 years of age who are at increased risk for pneumonia.
- Prevnar13® protects against 13 types of pneumonia bacteria. It is recommended for all adults 65 years of age and older and children under 2 years of age. Ask your healthcare provider about these vaccines.
If you have children, ask their doctor about other vaccines they should get. Several childhood vaccines help prevent infections caused by the bacteria and viruses that can lead to pneumonia.
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Pneumonia Symptoms And Causes
There are more than 30 different causes of pneumonia, including bacteria, viruses, airborne irritants, and fungi. When these germs enter the lungs, they can overpower the immune system and invade nearby lung tissues, which are very delicate.
Once infected, the air sacs in the lungs become inflamed and fill up with fluid and pus, which causes coughing, fever, chills, and breathing problems.
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.
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Things You Should Know About Pneumonia
- By Stephanie Watson, Executive Editor, Harvard Women’s Health Watch
Pneumonia is an infection that causes the air sacs in the lungs to fill up with fluid or pus, which makes it harder to breathe. The most common symptoms are cough that may be dry or produce phlegm, fever, chills and fatigue. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and pain in the chest. and shortness of breath. Signs that indicate a more severe infection are shortness of breath, confusion, decreased urination and lightheadedness. In the U.S., pneumonia accounts for 1.3 visits to the Emergency Department, and 50,000 deaths annually.
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to affect people around the world, pneumonia has become an even larger health concern. Some people infected with the COVID-19 have no symptoms, while others may experience fever, body ache, dry cough, fatigue, chills, headache, sore throat, loss of appetite, and loss of smell.
The more severe symptoms of COV-19, such as high fever, severe cough, and shortness of breath, usually mean significant lung involvement. The lungs can be damaged by overwhelming COVID-19 viral infection, severe inflammation, and/or a secondary bacterial pneumonia. COVID-19 can lead to long lasting lung damage.
Here are other important facts you should know about pneumonia:,
Would Imaging Studies Be Helpful If So Which Ones
Obtaining serial CXRs will help determine that pneumonias have occurred and have been recurrent rather than persistent. They will also help determine if the abnormalities are usually in the same area or if they have occurred in different lung segments. It may be challenging to have the opportunity to view all the radiographs at the same time and have them all reviewed by a pediatric radiologist, but this is highly recommended.
Chest computerized tomography usually helps further define the location of and extent of any airway or parenchymal abnormality.
A modified barium swallow with speech therapy present and an upper GI series are often helpful in assessing aspiration.
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People At Increased Risk
People of all ages can get sick from C. pneumoniae. It most commonly infects people for the first time when they are school-aged children or young adults. However, reinfection is most common in older adults.
People at increased risk include those who live or work in crowded settings where outbreaks most commonly occur8, such as:
What Causes Chest Infections
A chest infection is an infection of the lungs or airways. The main types of chest infection are bronchitis and pneumonia.
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
Read more about the causes of bronchitis and the causes of pneumonia
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Is Pneumonia Treated Any Differently In Children
Essentially no. Just like adults, bacterial causes of pneumonia in children may be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics are not used to treat pneumonia caused by viruses. Flu-related pneumonia may be treated with antiviral medicine if caught early in the course of illness. Most cases of pneumonia are treated with comfort care measures that ease symptoms. These may include:
- Drinking more fluids.
- Getting more rest.
- Taking over-the-counter medicines for cough and acetaminophen for fever. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about giving medicines to your child.
- Using a cool mist humidifier in your childs room.
How Can Walking Pneumonia Be Prevented
Unfortunately, no vaccines are available to prevent walking pneumonia caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Even if you have recovered from walking pneumonia, you will not become immune, so it is possible to become infected again in the future.
Tips for preventing walking pneumonia include:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. If a tissue isnt available, sneeze or cough into the inside of your elbow or sleeve. Never sneeze or cough into your hands. Place used tissues into a waste basket.
- Wash your hands often with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Wear a mask around sick people if you have respiratory conditions or other chronic health conditions that would make getting pneumonia even riskier for you.
- Get your annual Influenza shot. Bacterial pneumonia can develop after a case of the flu.
- Ask your doctor about the pneumococcal vaccine. Two types of vaccines are available, Prevnar 13® and Pneumovax 23®. Each vaccine is recommended for people at different age points or who are at increased risk for pneumococcal disease, including pneumonia.
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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.
When To Call The Doctor
You should call your childs doctor if your child:
- Has trouble breathing or is breathing much faster than usual
- Has a bluish or gray color to the fingernails or lips
- Is older than 6 months and has a fever over 102°F
- Is younger than 6 months and has a temperature over 100.4°F.
- Has a fever for more than a few days after taking antibiotics
When your child should stay home and return to school or childcare
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#dyk You Can Still Get Pneumonia In The Summer
- Lung Health and Diseases
Most people associate getting a cold, the flu or even pneumococcal pneumonia with winter weather, but while there may be an uptick in cases during the cold, wet monthsit is still possible to be sidelined with a respiratory infection during the summer months. In fact, pneumococcal pneumonia can occur any time of the year. It can strike anywhere, anytime and may start quickly with little warning.
While pneumonia always refers to an infection of the lungs, there are many different types. The most common type of bacterial pneumonia is called pneumococcal pneumonia. Its an illness that is caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, a common bacteria that can be spread from person to person through a cough or close contact. Once these bacteria invade the lungs and bloodstream, they may cause serious illness. These bacteria can cause part of the lung to become inflamed and fill up with mucus, making it harder to breathe. Symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia can come on quickly, and may include:
- Chest pain from difficulty breathing or coughing
- Excessive sweating
- A cough with phlegm that persists or gets worse
- A high fever, shaking chills
- 3.8 million adults are at 7.7 times greater risk due to COPD
- 3.5 million adults are at 5.9 times greater risk due to asthma
- 4.2 million adults are at 3.9 times greater risk due to smoking
Content was developed in partnership with Pfizer Inc.