Things People Dont Tell You About Pneumonia
While many of you mightve thought I have been on a hiatus due to winning the lottery and spending the past month enjoying my new home in Italy, Ive actually just been sick. Really, really sick. How sick, you ask? So sick that I couldnt even read. THAT sick.
You see, I went home to Texas for a quick, early Christmas visit with family in mid-December and came back with the worst gift ever: H1N1 flu.
Its an evil, evil virus, folks. As in fetal position for six days. And then for me, it quickly turned into pneumonia, with a side of kidney and liver failure. I spent many days in the hospital. Christmas and New Years never happened, really.
Basically, you know those stories you read in the newspaper about previously healthy people who get the flu and die unexpectedly? Well, that was ALMOST me. I was one of the lucky ones who pulled through.
Its been two weeks since I got out of the hospital now, and Im still on oxygen. Which makes me feel about 90 years old, and is something that I never dreamed Id need in my 40s.
Here are a few other things that no one ever told me about pneumonia.
1. When you are in the throes of pneumonia, before the antibiotics start to kick in, every time you cough, you will feel as though someone is reaching down through your lungs and pulling out your soul. And the sound will be violent. Horribly violent.
Have you ever had H1N1 and/or pneumonia? Whats been your experience?
Phase : Deep Breathing While Sitting
Talk To Your Healthcare Provider First
Always check with your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program. Your healthcare provider can help you find a program that matches your level of fitness and physical condition.
Here are some questions to ask:
- How much exercise can I do each day?
- How often can I exercise each week?
- What type of exercise should I do?
- What type of activities should I avoid?
- Should I take my medicine at a certain time around my exercise schedule?
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Why Does It Take So Long To Recover From Pneumonia
You can’t see the damage pneumonia causes, but you certainly feel it.
The air sacs in your lungs become inflamed during pneumonia, leading to soreness and pain. If the infection and inflammation progress, your lungs may fill with fluid and dead lung tissue, leading to the green, yellow or even bloody mucus you cough up. This fluid may also affect how well oxygen is able to transfer into your bloodstream, leading to difficulty breathing.
“Once the infection is cleared with treatment, your body still has to deal with removing all of the fluid, damage and debris left behind in your lungs. This can take a few weeks, resulting in a lingering cough and reduced lung capacity,” explains Dr. Lee. “During this time, you may find physical exertion more tiring than usual.”
A more severe case of pneumonia can cause even more damage to your lungs, which can be significant and even permanent in some cases.
“After severe pneumonia, lung capacity is reduced and muscles may be weak from being so ill. Significant weight loss can further contribute to weakness and other health conditions may be aggravated due to the stress placed on the body during illness. These are all things your body will need time to recover from,” says Dr. Lee.
In fact, it may take another several months for you to fully heal and regain strength.
Home Remedies For Congestion
Outside of medications, there are other home remedies you can try to clear up your chest congestion.
- Stay hydrated. Mucus is 90% water and can get thicker when youre dehydrated.
- Use a humidifier, face steamer, or vaporizer.
- Soothe your face with a warm, moist washcloth or breathe in with your face over a bowl of hot water.
- Try deep breathing and positional exercises.
- Try rinsing your sinuses with a nasal irrigation device or nasal spray.
- Prop yourself up when sleeping or lying down.
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Vitamin D And Immune Boosters
There’s some evidence suggesting that higher vitamin D levels can speed recovery of pneumonia symptoms. Overall, vitamin D helps strengthen the immune system in order to better fight infections, says Vitamin D Council. Low vitamin D may weaken the protective barriers of cells, allowing bacteria and viruses to enter.
For a diet rich in vitamin D, NIH recommends a diet consisting of fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, mushrooms, egg yolk, beef liver, cheese, milk, breakfast cereals, orange juice and more. You can also get vitamin D from the sun or from supplements.
In general, it’s important to maintain a diet that strengthens the immune system in order to speed recovery or to help avoid pneumonia altogether. Harvard Health Publishing recommends eating plenty of fruits and vegetables in order to boost the immune system.
Micronutrient deficiencies in zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid and vitamins A, B6, C and E are known to alter immune responses, so it’s key for proper immune functioning and staving off illnesses to consume foods with those vitamins and minerals.
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/8how Does Deep Breathing Help Covid Patients
Breathing and lung-strengthening exercises, deep breathing especially can help restore diaphragm function and improve your ability to breathe, which can be obstructed if there’s any inflammation, or fluid build-up in the lungs or air passage. It can also clear out mucus, restore saturation levels and cope with the infection better.
Clinical studies have also observed that for COVID patients, certain breathing techniques like pursed lip breathing can help reduce shortness of breath and reduce complications considerably.
Apart from this, deep breathing can also help alleviate stress and anxiety levels for a patient in the midst of a recovery and heal faster. Doctors now actively recommend COVID+ patients to perform yoga asanas, deep breathing exercises to promote oxygenation, strengthen lung function and be easily done by a patient under home isolation. Even at times when external oxygen support resources may be running scarce, these breathing exercises may provide temporary relief and boost oxygen levels.
Remember, while these exercises may not help you fight the virus directly, but it could make your recovery a lot more easy:
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Productive Cough/clearing Your Lungs
Whilst recovering from COVID you may continue to experience a dry cough for some time. Over time, a cough can develop into a cycle, where excessive coughing causes irritation and inflammation, which worsens the cough.
To help to control your cough practise a normal breathing pattern gentle, quiet, diaphragmatic , nose breathing at rest to start with. Aim to practise this little and often so that it becomes habit. Progress this by practising with gentle activity as you are able.
Other techniques to help with reducing your cough:
- Close your mouth and swallow.
- Gently breathe in and out through your nose, until the urge to cough goes away.
- Sip drinks regularly .
- Suck boiled sweets or lozenges.
Using a combination of the above techniques is best pick the techniques that work best for you.
Adequate lung expansion is key to your COVID recovery for many reasons:
- It increases the volume of air inside your lungs.
- It improves the strength of your muscles which you use to breathe. This can be imagined as a balloon, the more the balloon is blown up, the easier it becomes each time as the elastic is worked.
- It helps to clear secretions if they build up in your lungs.
- It prevents collapse at the base of your lungs. This can be imagined as a balloon which has sticky glue in the bottom of it when you attempt to inflate the balloon the top half will inflate however the bottom remains collapsed.
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.
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Can Coronavirus Patients Lessen The Chance Of Lung Damage
There are things patients can do to increase their chances for less severe lung damage, Galiatsatos says.
If you have a health issue that puts you at higher risk, make sure youre doing everything you can to minimize the chance of contracting the virus. Also, make sure that your chronic health conditions are managed as well as they can be. For example, people living with diabetes, COPD or heart disease should be especially careful to manage those conditions with monitoring and taking their medications as directed.
Galiatsatos adds that proper nutrition and hydration can also help patients avoid complications of COVID-19. Staying well fed is important for overall health. Proper hydration maintains proper blood volume and healthy mucous membranes in the respiratory system, which can help them better resist infection and tissue damage.
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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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Deep Breathing Exercises For Healthy Lungs
Deep breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing, is a breathing technique where you move your belly in and out with each breath. When you inhale your belly expands and when you exhale it contracts. Pretty simple, right?
Youd be surprised how few of us actually breathe in this way. Most of us are guilty of chest breathing where we take shallow breaths using the upper chest and neck. Not good.
Why is deep breathing important to lung health? With this type of breathing, you engage your diaphragm muscles fully, allowing you to take in more air and over time, this helps improve your lung capacitya key measure of good lung health.
I didnt know how much fuller my breath could be until I read the book Breathe by Dr. Beliza Vranich.
Dr. Vranichs techniques are all about how to train yourself to become intuitive at taking deeper breaths that go into the core of your body. This phenomenal book taught me how to breathe using my belly, diaphragm, and even the muscles in my back. Its one of the books I would recommend to people of all ages and fitness levels because everyone can benefit from taking better breaths, whether youre running marathons or sitting at a desk.
2. Pushing out
If you want to breathe more efficiently, you have to first remove any stale air trapped in your lungs. And pushing out is an effective exercise to help you do that.Heres how to do the pushing out exercise:
3. The rib stretch
Heres how to do the rib stretch:
A Lukewarm Bath Or Compress
Soaking the body in lukewarm water may help cool it down.
If it is not possible to take a bath, apply towels or washcloths to the body after dunking them in lukewarm water and wringing them out. This may help the body cool. When the towels warm up, dip them in the water again and reapply.
Chills are often a secondary symptom of a fever. The following home remedies may help ease chills:
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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.
Bacteremia And Septic Shock
If bacteria caused your pneumonia, they could get into your blood, especially if you didn’t see a doctor for treatment. It’s a problem called bacteremia.
Bacteremia can lead to a serious situation known as . It’s a reaction to the infection in your blood, and it can cause your blood pressure to drop to a dangerous level.
When your blood pressure is too low, your heart may not be able to pump enough blood to your organs, and they can stop working. Get medical help right away if you notice symptoms like:
Your doctor can test your mucus or the pus in your lungs to look for infection. They may also take an X-ray or a CT scan of your lungs.
Your doctor will likely treat your lung abscesses with antibiotics. They may do a procedure that uses a needle to remove the pus.
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How To Get Rid Of Fluids In The Lungs From Pneumonia
Except in cases of small amounts of fluids in the lungs, it is important to get that fluid drained. To be more specific, if the layer of fluids in the lungs is higher than 10mm with the patient lying down, it needs to be drained. The longer the fluids stay in your chest, the higher the chances of complications.
If there are only a moderate amount of fluids, and the fluids are flowing freely, they can be simply drained with a small needle. These days, it is customary to use an ultrasound or CT scan to visualize the path of the needle to make sure it is going to the right spot. With continued antibiotics, a one-time drainage may be enough for a small, uncomplicated fluid buildup from pneumonia.
After getting the fluids drained, they are sent to the lab for a chemical analysis and a culture. The results will help guide further treatment.
For more thicker fluids with pockets of pus, more invasive surgical options may need to be considered. A procedure called thoracoscopy is usually performed first. They use a flexible scope with a camera to look into the pleural space. This is space where the fluid in the lungs builds up. They insert the tube through a small cut in-between the ribs. Once it is in place, they can suck the fluid out. They can also cut and break down fibers to open up pockets of trapped fluids and drain those as well.