Whats The Connection Between The New Coronavirus And Pneumonia
Infection with SARS-CoV-2 begins when respiratory droplets containing the virus enter your upper respiratory tract. As the virus multiplies, the infection can progress to your lungs. When this happens, its possible to develop pneumonia.
But how does this actually happen? Typically, the oxygen you breathe into your lungs crosses into your bloodstream inside the alveoli, the small air sacs in your lungs. However, infection with SARS-CoV-2 can damage the alveoli and surrounding tissues.
Further, as your immune system fights the virus, inflammation can cause fluid and dead cells to build up in your lungs. These factors interfere with the transfer of oxygen, leading to symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath.
People with COVID-19 pneumonia can also go on to develop acute respiratory distress syndrome , a progressive type of respiratory failure that occurs when the air sacs in the lungs fill up with fluid. This can make it hard to breathe.
Many people with ARDS need mechanical ventilation to help them breathe.
Viral And Bacterial Pneumonia Symptoms Are Quite Similar
If you have pneumoniaeither bacterial or viralyoull typically have a cough that brings up sputum, fever, shortness of breath, and chest pain when you cough or take a deep breath, says Kimberly Brown, MD, MPH, an emergency medicine doctor in Memphis, Tennessee.
It can be difficult to tell by symptoms alone whether you have viral or bacterial pneumonia, says Dr. Brown.
But there is one potential tip-off that its bacterial, and not viral. Generally, bacterial pneumonia causes the more severe symptoms, Turner says.
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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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.
Could Omicron Lead To Long Covid
Though much remains unknown about omicron, experts say the variant could lead to long Covid, even with a mild case.
Patients with long-term symptoms can experience crushing fatigue, irregular heart rhythms and other issues months after their initial Covid infection. This occurred during the first wave of the pandemic, and has continued to lead to long Covid issues through the delta wave.
“We should assume that this variant can do the same thing that previous variants have until proven otherwise,” Lee, of CUNY, said.
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Causes And Risk Factors Of Pneumonia
How do you get pneumonia? The majority of the germs that cause infection are spread from person to person through droplets, from coughing or sneezing.
- A weakened immune system due to human immunodeficiency virus or cancer
People who smoke are at higher risk for pneumonia, as are people on immunosuppressive medications, and people who are frequently in close, crowded spaces with others, such as college students and military personnel.
Things You Should Know About Pneumonia
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:,
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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.
Favorite Orgs That Can Help Fight Pneumonia
Those over age 65 have a higher risk of getting pneumonia than younger adults. They may be especially susceptible to community-acquired pneumonia, spread among large populations of elderly people in settings such as assisted living facilities. This organization, devoted to finding the best products and services for seniors, publishes advice on how older adults should handle prevention and care.
Influenza is a common cause of pneumonia. Several national healthcare organizations and the CDC are collaborating in an effort called United Against the Flu to stress the importance of getting immunized. The groups website supplies resources and details on the vaccination.
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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
When To Contact A Doctor
It is important to contact a doctor if a person believes that they or a member of their family is experiencing symptoms of pneumonia. While some people may be able to recover at home without medical assistance, others may need medication or hospitalization.
People should seek immediate medical attention if they experience any of the following symptoms:
- breathing difficulties
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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.
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.
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Face Masks And Respiratory Hygiene
The WHO and the US CDC recommend individuals wear non-medical face coverings in public settings where there is an increased risk of transmission and where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. This recommendation is meant to reduce the spread of the disease by asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals and is complementary to established preventive measures such as social distancing. Face coverings limit the volume and travel distance of expiratory droplets dispersed when talking, breathing, and coughing. A face covering without vents or holes will also filter out particles containing the virus from inhaled and exhaled air, reducing the chances of infection. But, if the mask include an exhalation valve, a wearer that is infected would transmit the virus outwards through it, despite any certification they can have. So the masks with exhalation valve are not for the infected wearers, and are not reliable to stop the pandemic in a large scale. Many countries and local jurisdictions encourage or mandate the use of face masks or cloth face coverings by members of the public to limit the spread of the virus.
Medical History And Physical Exam
- Exposure to sick people at home, school, or work or in a hospital
- Flu or pneumonia vaccinations
- Exposure to birds and other animals
During your physical exam, your doctor will check your temperature and listen to your lungs with a stethoscope.
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Can I Prevent Pneumonia
The routine vaccinations that most people receive as kids help prevent certain types of pneumonia and other infections. If you have a chronic illness, such as sickle cell disease, you may have received extra vaccinations and disease-preventing antibiotics to help prevent pneumonia and other infections caused by bacteria.
People should get a pneumococcal vaccination if they have diseases that affect their immune system , are 65 years or older, or are in other high-risk groups. Depending on the bugs that are likely to affect them, these people also may get antibiotics to prevent pneumonia, as well as antiviral medicine to prevent or lessen the effects of viral pneumonia.
Doctors recommend that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu shot. That’s because someone with the flu could then come down with pneumonia. Call your doctor’s office or check your local health department to see when these vaccines are available.
Because pneumonia is often caused by germs, a good way to prevent it is to keep your distance from anyone you know who has pneumonia or other respiratory infections. Use separate drinking glasses and eating utensils wash your hands often with warm, soapy water and avoid touching used tissues and paper towels.
You also can stay strong and help avoid some of the illnesses that might lead to pneumonia by eating as healthily as possible, getting a minimum of 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night, and not smoking.
What Are The Symptoms Of Pneumonia
Pneumonia symptoms can vary from so mild you barely notice them, to so severe that hospitalization is required. How your body responds to pneumonia depends on the type germ causing the infection, your age and your overall health.
The signs and symptoms of pneumonia may include:
- Cough, which may produce greenish, yellow or even bloody mucus
- Fever, sweating and shaking chills
- Sharp or stabbing chest pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or cough
- Loss of appetite, low energy, and fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting, especially in small children
- Confusion, especially in older people
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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.
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.
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Diagnosed With Covid Here’s What To Do Next
Indeed, at least one person who was not vaccinated is reported to have died of omicron. Officials in Houston announced Monday that the unvaccinated man in his 50s succumbed to the virus.
There is also emerging evidence that omicron tends not to burrow deep into the lungs as much as previous variants. A study, which was posted online by the University of Hong Kong and not yet peer-reviewed, found that while omicron is less severe in the lungs, it can replicate faster higher up in the respiratory tract.
In this way, omicron may act more like bronchitis than pneumonia, said Dr. Hugh Cassiere, director of critical care services for Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital at the North Shore University Hospital, on Long Island, New York.
“Usually patients with acute bronchitis tend not to be short of breath. They tend to cough and produce sputum,” he said. “Patients with pneumonia tend to be short of breath and feel more fatigued than bronchitis in general.”
Still, it’s virtually impossible for people to rely on symptoms to self-diagnose an illness. In addition to omicron, the delta variant continues to circulate, along with increasing cases of the flu.
For these reasons, doctors urge people who have any cold symptoms or flulike symptoms to get tested.
Walking Pneumonia Vs Bronchitis Symptoms
Both bronchitis and walking pneumonia have similar symptoms, but the two diseases are not the same. Bronchitis affects the bronchial tubes, not the small airways of the lungs.
Bronchitis symptoms may include:
- runny, stuffy nose
- shortness of breath
The main difference is that the recovery time tends to be shorter with acute bronchitis than with pneumonia. But recovering from chronic bronchitis may take a long time.
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How Is Pneumonia Treated
The type of pneumonia you have will determine what kind of treatment youll get.
If you have a viral infection…
If its viral, it usually takes care of itself, says Dr. Edelman. Unfortunately, it could take your body up to a month to really get rid of the viral infection, so in the meantime, doctors will often try to control the symptoms youre experiencing, like a fever, as opposed to the virus itself, says Dr. Puchalski.
Leaving it untreated might cause you some discomfort by not controlling the symptoms, but the infection itself will still more than likely go away. In the case of someone in the hospital with COVID-19, says Dr. Dasgupta, symptoms may be treated more aggressively so you feel well enough to go home, possibly lowering your risk of catching a superimposed pneumonia.
If you have a bacterial infection…
With bacterial pneumonia, prescription treatment becomes super important. For community-acquired pneumonia, your doctor will usually prescribe you an antibiotic, and the infection should be gone in a week to 10 days, says Dr. Edelman.
If left untreated, bacterial pneumonia can spread to your heart, brain, or other parts of your body.
If you leave bacterial pneumonia untreated, however, you could be putting yourself at serious risk. If its bacterial, then you worry about it spreading to other parts of the lung or other parts of the body, says Dr. Edelman. It can go to your heart, it can go to your brain, it can go all kinds of places.