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.
Risk Factors For Pneumonia
Along with these various causes, certain risk factors play an important role in determining who gets pneumonia. Some of them you can control, while others you cant:
Being older than 65 or younger than 2
Having an underlying lung condition such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , or cystic fibrosis
Having another chronic medical condition, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and chronic kidney disease
Difficulty swallowing or coughing
Heavy alcohol use
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.
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Limit Contact With Others
One of the best things you can do when recovering from pneumonia is to limit your contact with others. As weve learned throughout the COVID-19 pandemicwhich can cause viral pneumoniastaying at least six feet away from others reduces the amount of viral or bacterial content they are exposed to as you breathe or talk.
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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How Is Pneumonia Treated
How pneumonia is treated depends on the germs that cause it.
- Bacterial pneumonia: Bacterial pneumonia is usually treated with antibiotics. The specific antibiotic choice depends on such factors as your general health, other health conditions you may have, the type of medications you are currently taking , your recent use of antibiotics, any evidence of antibiotic resistance in the local community and your age. Medicines to relieve pain and lower fever may also be helpful. Ask your doctor if you should take a cough suppressant. Its important to be able to cough to clear your lungs.
- Viral pneumonia: Antibiotics are not used to fight viruses. There are no treatments for most viral causes of pneumonia. However, if the flu virus is thought to be the cause, antiviral drugs might be prescribed, such as oseltamivir , zanamivir , or peramivir , to decrease the length and severity of the illness. Over-the-counter medicines to relieve pain and lower fever are usually recommended. Other medicines and therapies such as breathing treatments and exercises to loosen mucus may be prescribed by your doctor.
- Fungal pneumonia: Antifungal medication is prescribed if a fungus is the cause of your pneumonia.
Pneumonia Treatments And Covid
According to the World Health Organization , bacterial pneumonia should be treated with antibiotics, which are usually prescribed at a health center.
If your symptoms are severe, it is important that you call your healthcare provideror seek immediate helpto get the proper treatment. Severe symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Bluish color in your lips or fingertips
- A high fever
- Cough with mucus that is severe or worsening
Although COVID-19 is caused by a virus, people with the illness can still develop a superinfection, which is a reinfection or secondary infection caused by bacteria. If this happens, antibiotics will be given to the patient. In order to prevent antibiotic resistance, when antibiotics become useless against bacteria, some researchers have suggested following antimicrobial stewardship principles .
Moreover, because severe cases of pneumonia may require treatment at a hospital, healthcare providers must consider the chance that a patient may acquire coinfections in hospitals. So, to be safe and not add to superinfection among hospitalized patients, antibiotics are warranted.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- I have a chronic condition. Am I at higher risk for pneumonia?
- Do I have bacterial, viral, or fungal pneumonia? Whats the best treatment?
- Am I contagious?
- How serious is my pneumonia? Will I need to be hospitalized?
- What can I do at home to help relieve my symptoms?
- What are the possible complications of pneumonia? How will I know if Im developing complications?
- What should I do if my symptoms dont respond to treatment or get worse?
- Do we need to schedule a follow-up exam?
- Do I need any vaccines?
Pneumonia Vs Cold And Flu Symptoms
Itâs tricky, because pneumonia can be a complication of colds and flu. This happens when the germs that cause those common illnesses get into your lungs. You might be feeling better, but then you start getting symptoms again — and this time, they can be a lot worse.
The top clue that you have the flu is that the symptoms come on strong, seemingly out of nowhere. You may have:
- Fever above 100.4 F
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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.
Preventing And Recovering From Pneumonia
Heres some good news about pneumonia: Once you start treatment for pneumonia, you should start feeling better within a couple of days, and most people recover fully in one to three weeks. But theres lots of variation between people, and if youre already living with one or more chronic conditions it could take more time to recover from any type of pneumonia. Even after your infection clears up, your cough could linger for up to six weeks, and you may still feel tired or weak for about a month.
Another piece of good news is that there are concreteand effectivesteps you can take to help prevent pneumonia. Wash your hands often or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Disinfect commonly touched surfaces, stay away from people who are sick, and avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes without first washing or sanitizing your hands.
But smart infection-prevention measures arent all you can do. There are two vaccines that can help protect you against the most common kinds of pneumonia. One is your annual flu shot: By protecting you against influenza, it also protects you from influenzas potential complications, including pneumonia. The second is the pneumococcal vaccine, which prevents infection by Streptococcus pneumonia, also known as pneumococcus. This germ causes the most common type of bacterial pneumonia.
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Viral Vs Bacterial Pneumonia Symptoms
Although viral and bacterial pneumonia symptoms can be very similar, there are some key differences between the two. The section below outlines some examples.
- Lungs affected: Bacterial pneumonia tends to affect one particular part, or lobe, of a lung, whereas viral pneumonia typically affects both lungs.
- Symptom onset: The symptoms of bacterial pneumonia can develop either suddenly or gradually, whereas symptoms of viral pneumonia typically develop over several days.
- Symptoms: People with bacterial pneumonia usually experience a higher temperature and a wet cough, whereas people with viral pneumonia
When Can I Return To Work School And Regular Activities If I Have Pneumonia
You typically can resume your normal activities if your symptoms are gone, mild or improving and you do not have new or worsening:
- Shortness of breath or tiredness
- Chest pain
- Mucus, fever or cough
If you are generally healthy, most people feel well enough to return to previous activities in about a week. However, it may take about a month to feel totally back to normal.
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Is Pneumonia Contagious
Certain types of pneumonia are contagious . Pneumonia caused by bacteria or viruses can be contagious when the disease-carrying organisms are breathed into your lungs. However, not everyone who is exposed to the germs that cause pneumonia will develop it.
Pneumonia caused by fungi are not contagious. The fungi are in soil, which becomes airborne and inhaled, but it is not spread from person to person.
What Causes Pneumonia
Pneumonia can be caused by a wide variety of bacteria, viruses or fungi. Pneumonia is most commonly classified by the type of germ that causes it and by the location where the person became infected.
Community-acquired pneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia. This type of pneumonia occurs outside of a hospital or other healthcare facility. Causes include:
- Bacteria:Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common bacterial cause of pneumonia.
- Mycoplasma pneumoniae and other atypical bacteria: Other types of bacteria with unique features can cause different types of pneumonia. These include Mycoplasma pneumoniae , Chlamydia pneumoniae and Legionella pneumoniae .
- Viruses: Any virus that causes a respiratory tract infection can cause pneumonia. The viruses that cause colds and flu can cause pneumonia.
- Fungi : Pneumonia caused by fungi is the least common as pneumonia. Fungus in the soil in certain parts of the United States can become airborne and cause pneumonia. One example is valley fever.
Long-term care facility-acquired pneumonia occurs in long-term care facilities or outpatient, extended-stay clinics. Like hospitalized patients, drug-resistant bacteria are found in this setting.
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How Are They Treated
Many cases of walking pneumonia dont require treatment. To help your body heal, its best to rest as much as possible and stay hydrated. If you have a fever, you can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen. You can also ask your doctor about taking an antibiotic.
Pneumonia and more serious cases of walking pneumonia may need additional treatment, such as:
- oxygen to assist with breathing
- intravenous fluids
- breathing treatments to help loosen the mucus in your airways
- corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
THE MAIN DIFFERENCE:
Walking pneumonia often doesnt require treatment, though some cases may need antibiotics. Pneumonia may require additional treatment to improve breathing and reduce inflammation in your airways.
What’s The Connection Between Coronavirus And Pneumonia
Infection with SARS-CoV-2 begins when respiratory droplets containing the virus enter your body through your upper respiratory tract. As the virus multiplies, the infection can progress to your lungs and can further spread the infection. During this time, the chances of developing pneumonia become high and thus can lead to COVID-19 pneumonia.
Now, the question comes – how does this actually happen? Well, the oxygen you breathe into your lungs crosses into your bloodstream inside the alveoli, the small air sacs which are present 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 severe coughing and extreme shortness of breath.
According to the studies, people infected with COVID-19 pneumonia can also go on to develop other illnesses such as acute respiratory distress syndrome . Acute respiratory distress syndrome is a progressive type of respiratory failure that occurs when the air sacs in the lungs fill up with fluid. This can make it the person hard to breathe and thus leads to breathlessness.
At times, such patients are also put under ventilation for life support.
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Key Points About Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an infection of one or both of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
There are more than 30 different causes of pneumonia, and theyre grouped by the cause. The main types of pneumonia are bacterial, viral, and mycoplasma pneumonia.
A cough that produces green, yellow, or bloody mucus is the most common symptom of pneumonia. Other symptoms include fever, shaking chills, shortness of breath, low energy, and extreme tiredness.
Pneumonia can often be diagnosed with a thorough history and physical exam. Tests used to look at the lungs, blood tests, and tests done on the sputum you cough up may also be used.
Treatment depends on the type of pneumonia you have. Antibiotics are used for bacterial pneumonia. It may also speed recovery from mycoplasma pneumonia and some special cases. Most viral pneumonias dont have a specific treatment and just get better on their own. Other treatment may include a healthy diet, more fluids, rest, oxygen therapy, and medicine for pain, cough, and fever control.
Most people with pneumonia respond well to treatment, but pneumonia can cause serious lung and infection problems. It can even be deadly.
How Long Do They Last
While walking pneumonia is usually milder than pneumonia, it involves a longer recovery period. It can take about six weeks to fully recover from walking pneumonia. However, most people recover from pneumonia in about a week. Bacterial pneumonia usually starts to improve shortly after starting antibiotics, while viral pneumonia usually starts to improve after about three days.
If you have a weakened immune system or a severe case of pneumonia, the recovery period might be longer.
THE MAIN DIFFERENCE:
While walking pneumonia is milder than pneumonia, it requires a longer recovery period. It can last for up to six weeks, while pneumonia symptoms usually start to improve within a couple of days.
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How To Stay Safe
Given that COVID-19 is a respiratory illness just as pneumonia is, it is important to do your best to minimize your risk of contracting COVID-19, which could potentially cause severe respiratory complications.
The same precautions you’ve been taking to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic will, of course, keep you safe from developing pneumonia secondary to COVID-19, too. Be diligent about wearing a well-fitting mask, social distancing, and washing your hands.
A few other tips to keep in mind for recovery from pneumonia are to:
- Control your fever with NSAIDs or acetaminophen .
- Drink plenty of fluids to help loosen secretions and to cough up phlegm.
- Avoid taking cough medicines before talking to your healthcare provider first because coughing is one of the ways your body is working to get rid of the pneumonia infection.
- Drink warm beverages like tea or hot water.
- Use a humidifier, and take steamy baths or showers to help open your airway and ease your breathing.
- Stay away from smoke to allow your lungs to heal themselves. If you are a smoker, this would be a good time to think about quitting.
- Get rest. Stay home and take it easy for a while until you feel better and stronger.
These are all things you can do from the safety and comfort of your own home. Taking care of yourself and seeking medical care as needed can help keep you safe from COVID-19.
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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Why Does It Happen
Pneumonia symptoms may be milder or subtler in many at-risk populations. This is because many at-risk groups have a weakened immune system or a chronic or acute condition.
Because of this, these people may not receive the care that they need until the infection has become severe. Its very important to be aware of the development of any symptoms and to seek prompt medical attention.
Additionally, pneumonia can worsen preexisting chronic conditions, particularly those of the heart and lungs. This can lead to a rapid decline in condition.
Most people do eventually recover from pneumonia. However, the 30-day mortality rate is 5 to 10 percent of hospitalized patients. It can be up to 30 percent in those admitted to intensive care.
The cause of your pneumonia can often determine the severity of the infection.