Pneumonia Can Be Serious But Not Always
A case of pneumonia doesnt necessarily require a hospital stay: If you are diagnosed with pneumonia but your symptoms arent severe, your doctor may direct you to manage it at home.
COVID-19 aside, bacterial pneumonia can be more serious than viral pneumonia unless you have a case of pneumonia caused by the bacteria Mycoplasma pneumoniae, often referred to as walking pneumonia, the non-medical term for atypical pneumonia. Although its often mild, atypical pneumonia can still make you feel pretty bad and can also be spread to others.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Pneumonia In Children
The signs and symptoms of pneumonia in children vary from child to child and also depend on your childs age, cause of the infection, and severity of their illness.
Usual symptoms include:
- Cry more than usual. Are restless or more fussy.
Adolescents have the same symptoms as adults, including:
- Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath.
- Chest pain.
Newborns are at greater risk of pneumonia caused by bacteria present in the birth canal. In young children, viruses are the main cause of pneumonia.
Pneumonia caused by bacteria tends to happen suddenly, starting with fever and fast breathing. Symptoms appear more slowly and tend to be less severe when pneumonia is caused by viruses.
What Are The Treatments For Pneumonia
Treatment for pneumonia depends on the type of pneumonia, which germ is causing it, and how severe it is:
- Antibiotics treat bacterial pneumonia and some types of fungal pneumonia. They do not work for viral pneumonia.
- In some cases, your provider may prescribe antiviral medicines for viral pneumonia
- Antifungal medicines treat other types of fungal pneumonia
You may need to be treated in a hospital if your symptoms are severe or if you are at risk for complications. While there, you may get additional treatments. For example, if your blood oxygen level is low, you may receive oxygen therapy.
It may take time to recover from pneumonia. Some people feel better within a week. For other people, it can take a month or more.
Don’t Miss: What Medicine Is Used To Treat Pneumonia
What Are The Treatments For Walking Pneumonia
The treatment of walking pneumonia mainly depends on the cause of the disease. Some of the common treatment options applied in the treatment of walking pneumonia include:
- Strengthening the weak immune system
- Immunization for children and adults
- Pneumococcal vaccine
- Giving influenza vaccine for preventing flu also works
It is always recommended to stay away from people who have acquired walking pneumonia so that lesser chances of catching up the disease are there.
How Common Is Pneumonia
Approximately 1 million adults in the United States are hospitalized each year for pneumonia and 50,000 die from the disease. It is the second most common reason for being admitted to the hospital — childbirth is number one. Pneumonia is the most common reason children are admitted to the hospital in the United States. Seniors who are hospitalized for pneumonia face a higher risk of death compared to any of the top 10 other reasons for hospitalization.
Also Check: Icd 10 Code For Pneumonia
Why Does It Take So Long To Recover From Pneumonia
I was diagnosed with pneumonia in October. The doctor told me to rest, really rest. She told me to expect to feel better after a couple of days of antibiotics, but that I still must rest. She told me I would have good days, but they would be followed by bad days.
After a week of antibiotics, the bacteria causing my illness presumably Streptococcus pneumonia should have been dead. Also called pneumococcus, this pathogen is the most common perpetrator of community-acquired pneumonia, which is pneumonia that people get outside hospitals and nursing homes. The antibiotic I received, a common first-line treatment, covers pneumococcus as well as other bacterial invaders.
Yet my doctor told me to expect weeks to months of recovery. Friends with recent pneumonia experience confirmed this rather depressing outlook. Pneumonia can vary in severity so not everyone will need months to recover.
The scientific literature concurs with the anecdotal evidence I collected. One study followed 576 adult patients with community-acquired pneumonia. Thirty days after diagnosis, 65 percent of them reported fatigue, nearly half of whom said their fatigue was moderate to severe 53 percent reported cough and 36 percent reported shortness of breath. Ninety days after diagnosis, 51 percent reported fatigue, 32 percent cough, and 28 percent shortness of breath.
Why does it take so long to recover from pneumonia?
When Would I Need To Be Hospitalized For Pneumonia
If your case of pneumonia is more severe, you may need tostay in the hospital for treatment. Hospital treatments may include:
- Fluids, antibiotics and other medicines given through an IV
- Breathing treatments and exercises to help loosen mucus
People most likely to be hospitalized are those who are most frail and/or at increased risk, including:
- Babies and young children
- People with weakened immune systems
- People with health conditions that affect the heart and lungs
It may take six to eight weeks to return to a normal level of functioning and well-being if youve been hospitalized with pneumonia.
Read Also: How To Treat A Cough From Pneumonia
What To Expect By Age And Health
Here is how age can affect your recovery from pneumonia:
- Infants under the age of 6 months are typically hospitalized for pneumonia out of an abundance of caution.
- Children over the age of 6 months are more likely to be treated at home, provided they are typically healthy.
- Older adults may take longer to bounce back from pneumonia since our immune system naturally weakens the older we get, especially if you have a preexisting health condition. Its also more common for the elderly and chronically ill to be hospitalized for pneumonia since the rate of complications and mortality increases for those over the age of 65.
A Study Explains Why Covid
Compared to traditional forms of pneumonia, pneumonia from the novel coronavirus develops over a longer period of time and lasts longer, according to a study in Nature. Researchers from Northwestern University School of Medicine compared lung cell samples from more than 85 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 pneumonia to more than 200 hospitalized patients with pneumonia from other sources. Combining these results with foundational studies, they believe SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes COVID-19, burrows deep in the lungs of people who develop severe respiratory infections from the virus. Once there, SARS-CoV-2 appears to take over immune function. White blood cells and immune helpers that rush to infection sites to coordinate recovery appear to instead ferry SARS-CoV-2 to neighboring lung cells. The researchers believe this altered immune response explains why COVID-19 pneumonia takes longer to develop and extends hospital stays. In this study, the average length between a patient feeling sick from COVID-19 and requiring breathing support was 6-12 days. For people with similar complications from the flu, the range was 1-3 days or shorter.
To accelerate recovery from severe COVID-19 lung infections, the researchers will test treatment to restore immune function. The research was supported by the NHLBI.
Also Check: What Does Pneumonia Vaccine Do
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
How Long Does A Pneumonia Shot Last
- Younger than 2 years old: four shots
- 65 years old or older: two shots, which will last you the rest of your life
- Between 2 and 64 years old: between one and three shots if you have certain immune system disorders or if youre a smoker
Don’t Miss: How Do You Feel With Pneumonia
Why Does Recovery Take So Long
Almost everyone who comes down with pneumonia will ask themselves or their healthcare provider at least once, Why does it take so long to recover from pneumonia? After all, you felt better within a few days of starting your antibiotic or, in some cases, steroid treatment. Like everything else in medicine, there are many reasons why it takes so long to recover.
When bacteria enters your body, your body goes into defense mode to remove it. Somewhere along the line, you start your antibiotics, and in a few days, you feel better. This improvement is because the bacteria has been dealt with. However, your body is now in cleanup mode, removing all the debrislike the mucus in your lungs.
Your body starts working overtime to clear out all the trash left behind. Your body is using multiple mechanisms to move the mucus out of your lungs. This movement is why you experience a productive cough.
Covid Pneumonia: How Long Does Recovery Take
You’re likely familiar with the common, mild symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, dry cough and fatigue.
But, in more severe cases, COVID-19 can also cause serious complications, including pneumonia.
“We still have a lot to learn about COVID-19, particularly about the havoc it can wreak on the lungs and the pneumonia it causes, which is often now called COVID pneumonia,” says Dr. Rayman Lee, pulmonologist at Houston Methodist.
That being said, there’s still plenty that experts like Dr. Lee do know about COVID pneumonia, including about how long it can take to fully recover from it.
You May Like: Can You Cough Up Blood With Pneumonia
How Long Does It Take To Recover
The COVID-19 recovery period depends on the severity of the illness. If you have a mild case, you can expect to recover within about two weeks. But for more severe cases, it could take six weeks or more to feel better, and hospitalization might be required.
According to the CDC, older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions, like heart or lung disease or diabetes, may be at risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19.
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:
Read Also: When Do You Get The Pneumonia Vaccine
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.
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.
Also Check: How Often To Get Pneumonia Vaccine After Age 65
Can Pneumonia Be Prevented Or Avoided
There are many factors that can raise your risk for developing pneumonia. These include:
People who have any of the following conditions are also at increased risk:
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- sickle cell disease
You can help prevent pneumonia by doing the following:
- Get the flu vaccine each year. People can develop bacterial pneumonia after a case of the flu. You can reduce this risk by getting the yearly flu shot.
- Get the pneumococcal vaccine. This helps prevent pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria.
- Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Dont smoke. Smoking damages your lungs and makes it harder for your body to defend itself from germs and disease. If you smoke, talk to your family doctor about quitting as soon as possible.
- Practice a healthy lifestyle. Eat a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables. Exercise regularly. Get plenty of sleep. These things help your immune system stay strong.
- Avoid sick people. Being around people who are sick increases your risk of catching what they have.
How Plushcare Can Help
When you book and appointment with a PlushCare doctor, youll start with a video chat in which youll explain your symptoms. The doctor will ask a few questions about your current health, background and other pertinent information. You can also ask the doctor any questions you may have such as how long this condition will last, any specific diet conditions and any other questions you may have.
In some cases, the doctor will refer you to have a chest X-ray and sometimes, even a blood sample depending on how severe your condition is. These results can be sent electronically to the doctor and then he or she will prescribe appropriate antibiotics or other treatment.
Don’t Miss: How Do Doctors Diagnose Pneumonia
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.
How Is Pneumonia Treated
When you get a pneumonia diagnosis, your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan. Treatment for pneumonia depends on the type of pneumonia you have, how sick you are feeling, your age, and whether you have other health conditions. The goals of treatment are to cure the infection and prevent complications. It is important to follow your treatment plan carefully until you are fully recovered.
Take any medications as prescribed by your doctor. If your pneumonia is caused by bacteria, you will be given an antibiotic. It is important to take all the antibiotic until it is gone, even though you will probably start to feel better in a couple of days. If you stop, you risk having the infection come back, and you increase the chances that the germs will be resistant to treatment in the future.
Typical antibiotics do not work against viruses. If you have viral pneumonia, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication to treat it. Sometimes, though, symptom management and rest are all that is needed.
Most people can manage their symptoms such as fever and cough at home by following these steps:
If your pneumonia is so severe that you are treated in the hospital, you may be given intravenous fluids and antibiotics, as well as oxygen therapy, and possibly other breathing treatments.
Read Also: I Got A Pneumonia Shot And My Arm Is Swollen
What Is Walking Pneumonia
Walking pneumonia is a non-contagious form of infection which can also lead to many ailments if not treated in time. This form of pneumonia is not caused due to pathogens and has some differences as compared to the typical form of this lung infection. Some of the common symptoms of this mild ailment may persist for long, which can further lead to serious forms of lung infections.
When foreign substances enter the lungs, it can cause walking pneumonia, characterized by which fever. Many people off late have been affected by this ailment which has led to serious effects on their overall health. Walking pneumonia generally accompanies chest congestion, which can be mild or severe and it is recommended that if any condition of cold persists beyond certain duration, immediate medical help becomes imminent.
In walking pneumonia, the inflamed tissue can surely be a cause of concern and for specific duration, this infection can be quite contagious as well. So one has to keep in mind the recovery time of walking pneumonia and must take care of the precautions too which helps a lot in healing you from this infection in a speedy way.