Can Pneumonia Be Prevented
Check with your healthcare provider about getting immunizations. The flu is a common cause of pneumonia. Because of that, getting a flu shot every year can help prevent both the flu and pneumonia.
There is also a pneumococcal vaccine. It will protect you from a common form of bacterial pneumonia. Children younger than age 5 and adults ages 65 and older should get this shot.
The pneumococcal shot is also recommended for all children and adults who are at increased risk of pneumococcal disease due to other health conditions.
Who Is At High Risk Of Pneumonia
Cases of pneumonia can be mild to severe and even life-threatening, depending on your physical condition and the type of pneumonia your have. Anyoneyoung or oldcan get this respiratory condition. The following groups are more susceptible to developing pneumonia:
- People 65 years of age and older
- Patients with a preexisting respiratory illness, such as COPD or asthma
- People with underlying health problems, such as heart disease or HIV/AIDS
- Those with weakened immune systems, such as patients undergoing chemotherapy, recovering from surgery, taking immunosuppressant drugs, or breathing on a ventilator
- People with overall poor health
- People who smoke or drink excessive amounts of alcohol
A medical professional can diagnose pneumonia with a physical examination or chest X-ray and prescribe medication as necessary.
In general, children are more likely to get pneumonia than adults. Pneumonia is the number one cause of childhood deaths in the world. Although child mortality rates from pneumonia are significantly less in America because of available health care, pneumonia is the number one reason why children are hospitalized in the United States. Children 5 years old and younger are at higher risk for pneumonia than older children.
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 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
How Can You Avoid Pneumonia
- Get vaccinated there are several vaccines that can help prevent infection that leads to pneumonia. Talk to your health care provider to see if any of these vaccines are right for you.
- Keep your hands clean with soap and water or alcohol hand rub.
- Limit or avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Keep healthy. Eat the right foods and get enough sleep.
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What Can Happen If Pneumonia Gets Worse
- The lungs cannot send enough oxygen to the body.
- Pus pockets and fluid can form around the lung.
- Infection can spread to other areas of the body.
- In severe cases, pneumonia can cause death.
There are at least 4 million cases of pneumonia everyyear in the U.S. One out of four will be sick enough tobe admitted to a hospital. Adults 65 and older are morelikely to be sicker and admitted to a hospital. One outof every 20 cases of pneumonia will be fatal.
Pneumonia causes moredeaths than HIV/AIDS.
How Can Parents Help
Kids with pneumonia need to get plenty of rest and drink lots of liquids while the body works to fight the infection.
If your child has bacterial pneumonia and the doctor prescribed antibiotics, give the medicine on schedule for as long as directed. Keeping up with the medicine doses will help your child recover faster and help prevent the infection from spreading to others in the family. If your child is wheezing, the doctor might recommend using breathing treatments.
Ask the doctor before you use a medicine to treat your child’s cough. Over-the-counter cough and cold medicines are not recommended for any kids under 6 years old. If your child doesnt seem to be feeling better in a few days, call your doctor for advice.
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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.
How To Prevent Pneumonia
Some pneumonias are preventable. Vaccinations are available to prevent pneumonia caused by some viruses and bacteria. Also, living a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet and regularly exercising can minimize the risk of contracting pneumonia. Routine exercise can increase lung health and resistance to infections.
A healthy lifestyle also includes refraining from smoking and drinking too much alcohol to help keep the immune system healthy. Getting plenty of rest and drinking water is yet another way to help prevent illnesses like pneumonia.
Practicing thorough hand washing can also reduce your exposure to germs that can cause pneumonia, especially during cold and flu season. If you cough or sneeze, do your best to do so into a disposable tissue or the elbow of your sleeve, followed by washing your hands. Be sure to disinfect frequently used surfaces such as telephones, countertops, and doorknobs to prevent the spread of germs that can cause pneumonia.
Lastly, if people in your community are sick, do your best to practice social distancing when possible. Reducing your exposure to bacteria and viruses while living a healthy and active lifestyle can play an essential role in maintaining wellness.
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How Can I Prevent Catching Pneumonia
Because the answer to the question, can you catch pneumonia? is yes, you need to do what you can to prevent the infection from taking hold in your lungs.
There are vaccinesyou can get that will help reduce the risk of catching pneumonia.
- An annual flu shot can keep you from catching the flu. When you have the flu, your immune system will be weak and you will be at a greater risk of getting bacterial pneumonia.
- The PCV vaccination or pneumococcal conjugate vaccine can be given to kids under the age of 5 years to prevent childhood pneumonia.
- The PPSV vaccination is also referred to as the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine. It is given to adults who are older than 65 years of age or to people with chronic illnesses that puts them at risk for catching pneumonia. This vaccine lasts about 5 years before you need to be re-vaccinated.
Things that healthy people can do to stave off pneumonia include the following:
- Take vitamin C, which is protective against infections
- Eat a healthy diet
- Remain active so that your lungs will be healthy
- Get plenty of rest
- Stop smoking and do not use alcohol in excess
- Cover your mouth and nose whenever you have to cough or sneeze
- Practice frequent handwashing techniques and use alcohol-based hand wash
- Stay away from people who are sick with pneumonia, especially if you are at risk yourself
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.
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Who Should Not Have The Vaccine
Anybody who has had a severe allergic reaction to PPSV23, PCV13, or PCV7, which is an older version of the conjugated vaccine, from one dose should not have another one. Severe allergic reactions are rare, however.
People who are severely or moderately ill with another infection should receive the vaccine when their condition improves.
The vaccines cannot cause pneumococcal disease as they are composed of bacterial capsule components.
The treatment will depend on how the bacteria affect the individual.
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When Is Pneumonia Contagious
Pneumonia is contagious when the causative pathogens are expelled by an infected person by coughing out infected droplets. These expelled droplets contain the bacteria or virus that causes the pneumonia. These droplets contaminate the mouth or breathing tract of another individual to eventually infect their lungs.
The approximate time when pneumonia becomes contagious varies with the type of infecting agent and may range from one to two days to weeks. In addition, some pneumonias are more highly contagious than others. For example, Mycobacterium and Mycoplasma organisms are highly contagious, but other types, including pneumococcal pneumonia, require optimal conditions to spread to another person and are weakly contagious.
How Long Is Pneumonia Contagious
The average time an individual is contagious from pneumonia is approximately 10 days. However, some cases of pneumonia can be contagious for several weeks, depending on the form of pneumonia and the type of medical treatment recommended.
Antibiotics can significantly decrease the contagiousness of bacterial pneumonias. After starting antibiotics, an individual is still contagious for another 24 to 48 hours. Once the fever associated with the illness is gone, the pneumonia is less likely to be contagious. Coughing can continue for several weeks due to lingering inflammation, even after effective treatment.
Home remedies such as the use of honey to relieve coughing and zinc to boost the immune system, especially during a case of viral pneumonia, can be helpful tools, according to Kate Tulenko, MD, the founder and CEO of Corvus Health.
Getting medical treatment can reduce the duration of illness and the risk of spreading it to other people. If your fever returns or if lingering symptoms fail to go away, ask a healthcare provider for advice.
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How You Catch Pneumonia
While anyone can catch pneumonia, some people are more likely to come down with illness when coming into contact with the germs. Like many other illnesses, pneumonia is caught through contact with the bacteria or virus that creates pneumonia.
Coughing and sneezing are the most common ways these germs spread.
Its also possible to catch the illness by touching something like a counter or door handle, sharing cups and utensils, and touching your face without washing your hands first.
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:
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How Is Walking Pneumonia Different
Walking pneumonia, also known as atypical pneumonia, is caused by mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria. It usually causes cold-like symptoms, in addition to a fever and a hacking cough. It is most common in school-aged children and young adults, says Annette Cameron, MD, a Yale Medicine pediatrician.
Because this type of pneumonia typically causes milder symptoms, it may go undiagnosed for a while, especially if the child is able to participate in normal activities and isnt as visibly sick as he or she would be with other forms of pneumonia. And thats why its called walking pneumonia, Dr. Cameron says. It might just be a little bit of malaise. Sometimes you can have community-acquired, or bacterial pneumonia, along with walking pneumonia, in which case we would just treat both of them.
Stages Of Pneumonia In Seniors
Anyone can get pneumonia with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Seniors may be more likely to get pneumonia and experience serious complications. Due to these higher risks, senior care providers need to recognize early pneumonia symptoms in seniors.
They also should understand the four stages of pneumonia so they can seek prompt treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.
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How Do Doctors Diagnose Bacterial Pneumonia
According to information from the Pan American Journal of Public Health, the radiological image of alveolar consolidation is accepted as a confirmatory criterion of presumably bacterial pneumonia. In affected patients, an opacity in the lung tissue is usually observed, but this is not the case in all cases.
In times of suspicion, doctors can also perform cultures of the patients expectorations can to confirm the presence of bacteria.
Can You Catch Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can be caused by fungi, viruses or bacteria. Viral pneumonia is the most common type, followed by bacterial pneumonia. It is actually a common illness but fortunately is not usually severe. Can you catch pneumonia? Well, pneumonia can be spread from person to person through breathing, coughing, or sneezing without covering your mouth. Even people without clinical manifestations of the disease can pass on the illness to other people.
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How Do I Know If I Have Pneumonia
Pneumonia symptoms may present within 24 hours after infection or come on slowly. Common symptoms of pneumonia sometimes resemble cold- or flu-like symptoms including coughing, fever, and trouble breathing.
The cough itself may be wet or productive, meaning you cough up yellow, green, or even brown mucus from the lungs. Hemoptysis and coughing at night can also occur during a bout of pneumonia.
A high fever, upward of 105 degrees, can be a reaction to the body fighting an infection associated with pneumonia. If youre feverish, you may experience chills, sweating, and shaking.
Difficulty breathing may feel like shortness of breath, or feeling like you cant catch your breath. Chest pains, including sharp or stabbing feelings when coughing or trying to take a deep breath, are common once pneumonia develops. Furthermore, cyanosis may occur, causing your lips, fingertips, or skin to turn blue from a lack of oxygen.
Additional symptoms of pneumonia can include a loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
Who Is Most At Risk For Getting Pneumonia
People who have an increased risk of pneumonia include:
- People over the age of 65 and infants under age 2. The weakening immune system of older people makes them less able to fight off illnesses. Similarly, the immune system of infants is still developing and not at full-strength, making them more susceptible to infection.
- People with a health-caused weakened immune system. Examples include:
- People who are receiving chemotherapy
- Transplanted organ recipients
- People who have HIV/AIDS
- People with autoimmune disease and who are taking medications that suppress the immune system.
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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.