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.
Types Of Walking Pneumonia
Walking pneumonia is one of more than 30 different types of pneumonia. It can be divided into a few different subtypes, including:
This type of pneumonia tends to be mild, and most people recover without treatment. Its caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae . The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are about of M. pneumoniae infections each year in the United States.
This type of walking pneumonia is caused by Chlamydia pneumoniae bacteria. While it can cause a serious infection, most people experience only mild illness or no symptoms whatsoever. Its common among school-age children and young adults.
Legionnaires disease is one of the most serious types of walking pneumonia, as it can lead to both respiratory failure and death. Its caused by Legionella, a type of bacteria found in freshwater that can contaminate water systems in buildings. People can get this disease if they inhale airborne droplets of water that contain the bacteria.
Walking pneumonia symptoms are typically mild and look like the common cold. People may start noticing signs of walking pneumonia between 1 and 4 weeks of being exposed to the pathogen that caused the disease.
Symptoms of walking pneumonia can include:
- loss of appetite
What About The Influenza And Pneumococcal Vaccines
Because the flu is a common cause of pneumonia, consider getting your flu vaccine. This is one of the reasons we recommend the flu vaccine, because not only can you get the flu virus and feel really miserable, but you can end up with a secondary bacterial infection which could be very serious or even fatal, Dr. Cameron says.
There is also a pneumococcal vaccine, which offers protection from a common form of bacterial pneumonia. The shot is recommended for children younger than 5 and adults 65 and older. It is also advised for children and adults who are at an increased risk of pneumonia due to other health conditions.
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What Are The Main Differences Between Bacterial And Viral Pneumonia
Common symptoms of pneumonia include3
- difficulty breathing
- increased breathing rate
When a patient presents with these symptoms, the next step is to examine the lungs with a stethoscope. With pneumonia, decreased breath sounds, wheezing, or crackles on listening to the lungs, are all indications that can help point towards a diagnosis. The next step is to order a radiograph or X-ray if pneumonia is suspected.
The radiograph still remains the reference standard for a medical diagnosis of pneumonia, and also helps to differentiate between bacterial and viral pneumonia. However, a combination of clinical symptoms, exam findings, and imaging is the best way to uncover the most likely culprit.3,4
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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What Is The Prognosis For Bacterial Pneumonia
The prognosis depends on the severity of disease and whether there are any predisposing factors. The prognosis is generally good for uncomplicated bacterial pneumonia. The prognosis for animals with predisposing factors depends on whether the risk factor can be treated or resolved. If the risk factors cannot be resolved, recurrent infections may occur. The prognosis for young or geriatric animals, patients with immunodeficiency diseases, or patients that are debilitated is guarded.
Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
Pneumonia is a common infectious lung disease. It requires interprofessional care and the involvement of more than one subspecialty. This patient-centered approach involving a physician with a team of other health professionals, physiotherapists, respiratory therapists, nurses, pharmacists, and support groups working together for the patient plays an important role in improving the quality of care in pneumonia patients. It not only decreases the hospital admission rates but also positively affect the disease outcome. For healthy patients, the outcomes after treatment are excellent but in the elderly and those with comorbidities, the outcomes are guarded.
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Differentiating Viral From Bacterial Pneumonia
Carl Heneghan, Annette Pluddemann and Kamal R. Mahtani
On behalf of the Oxford COVID-19 Evidence Service TeamCentre for Evidence-Based Medicine, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health SciencesUniversity of Oxford
VERDICTA severe complication of COVID-19 is viral pneumonia. Distinguishing viral pneumonia from bacterial pneumonia is difficult in the community. In some cases, they could co-exist, increasing the chance of a more unfortunate outcome. However, there may be important clues in the history and the examination that can help differentiate the two. Recent guidance from NICE will support clinicians in this process.
BACKGROUNDCommunity-acquired pneumonia can be caused by viruses, bacteria and fungi .
Viral pneumonia is a common complication of influenza-like illnesses and is a complication of SARS-COV-2. Viral pneumonia may clear up on its own however, when severe, it can be life-threatening. Viruses are generally not as common a cause of CAP as some bacteria. However, as well as being a primary pathogen, viruses can be a co-pathogen with bacteria, particularly in those with severe illness requiring admission to ICU and in ventilator-associated pneumonia.
Coronavirus has also been shown to occur with CAP. In a 2010 case-control study conducted in Israel , coronaviruses were identified in 24 patients with CAP, compared with 17 in control subjects.
Those more at risk include:
Differentiating viral and bacterial pneumonia
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.
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Cover Your Mouth And Nose
While the preferred method for covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze is into a tissue, not everyone can get to tissues in time when the urge to cough or sneeze hits. If you have the urge to cough or sneezeand a tissue isnt availablethe next best thing is to cover your mouth or nose with the inside of your elbow.
Coughing or sneezing into your elbow will decrease the chances of your leaving traces of your infection on door handles, faucets, or anything else you touch.
When Should Someone Seek Medical Care For Bacterial Pneumonia
When to call the doctor
- If you have a fever and cough up yellow, green, or brown sputum, make an appointment with your doctor.
- If you have shortness of breath, chest pain, or confusion, you should seek emergency care.
- If you are healthy, you can safely make an appointment to see your doctor. It is best to contact your physician if you have concerns about possible pneumonia.
When to go to the hospital
- If you have shortness of breath, you should always seek emergency care. Shortness of breath is not simply the feeling that you can’t take a full breath shortness of breath means that you cannot take in enough air to meet your body’s needs. It is a potentially serious symptom and always requires a visit to an emergency department, no matter how healthy you are.
- If you have chest pain or confusion, you should seek emergency care.
- You are at higher risk of developing pneumonia if you have the following:
- a chronic health problem, such as diabetes
- a poor immune system because of HIV, AIDS, steroid use, or immune-suppressant medications
- diseased or damaged lungs, such as with asthma or emphysema
- are very young or very old
- or you have had your spleen removed.
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Take Steps To Help Your Body Recover
The following steps can help your body recover from pneumonia.
- Choose heart-healthy foods, because good nutrition helps your body recover.
- Drink plenty of fluids to help you stay hydrated.
- Dont drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. Alcohol and illegal drugs weaken your immune system and can raise the risk of complications from pneumonia.
- Dont smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. Breathing in smoke can worsen your pneumonia. Visit Smoking and Your Heart and Your Guide to a Healthy Heart. For free help quitting smoking, you may call the National Cancer Institutes Smoking Quitline at 1-877-44U-QUIT .
- Get plenty of sleep. Good quality sleep can help your body rest and improve the response of your immune system. For more information on sleep, visit our How Sleep Works health topic.
- Get light physical activity. Moving around can help you regain your strength and improve your recovery. However, you may still feel short of breath, and activity that is too strenuous may make you dizzy. Talk to your doctor about how much activity is right for you.
- Sit upright to help you feel more comfortable and breathe more easily.
- Take a couple of deep breaths several times a day.
Pneumonia Symptoms In Elders
Pneumonia is an infection of your lungs. There can be swelling or fluid in the air sacs. This can cause trouble with breathing as well as affect energy levels and overall health.
If your loved one is sick, the signs of pneumonia include:
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How Is Pneumonia Diagnosed
Sometimes pneumonia can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are so variable, and are often very similar to those seen in a cold or influenza. To diagnose pneumonia, and to try to identify the germ that is causing the illness, your doctor will ask questions about your medical history, do a physical exam, and run some tests.
Your doctor will ask you questions about your signs and symptoms, and how and when they began. To help figure out if your infection is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, you may be asked some questions about possible exposures, such as:
- Any recent travel
- Exposure to other sick people at home, work or school
- Whether you have recently had another illness
Your doctor will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope. If you have pneumonia, your lungs may make crackling, bubbling, and rumbling sounds when you inhale.
If your doctor suspects you may have pneumonia, they will probably recommend some tests to confirm the diagnosis and learn more about your infection. These may include:
- Blood tests to confirm the infection and to try to identify the germ that is causing your illness.
- Chest X-ray to look for the location and extent of inflammation in your lungs.
- Pulse oximetry to measure the oxygen level in your blood. Pneumonia can prevent your lungs from moving enough oxygen into your bloodstream.
- Sputum test on a sample of mucus taken after a deep cough, to look for the source of the infection.
What Are The Complications Of Pneumonia
Most people with pneumonia respond well to treatment, but pneumonia can be very serious and even deadly.
You are more likely to have complications if you are an older adult, a very young child, have a weakened immune system, or have a serious medical problem like diabetes or cirrhosis. Complications may include:
Acute respiratory distress syndrome . This is a severe form of respiratory failure.
Lung abscesses. These are pockets of pus that form inside or around the lung. They may need to be drained with surgery
Respiratory failure. This requires the use of a breathing machine or ventilator.
This is when the infection gets into the blood. It may lead to organ failure.
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Causes Of Walking Pneumonia
Walking pneumonia can be caused by viruses or bacteria. According to the American Lung Association, most cases are caused by M. pneumoniae, a common type of bacteria that usually affects children and adults under the age of 40. M. pneumoniae infections tend to peak in summer and early fall but can happen throughout the year.
Chlamydophila pneumoniae can also cause walking pneumonia. Infections from this type of bacteria are common in all four seasons. It often spreads in crowded environments, like college dorms and long-term care facilities.
Adults and children can also contract walking pneumonia from viruses. Respiratory syncytial virus is a frequent cause of walking pneumonia in young kids, while adults tend to get the viral form of the disease from the influenza virus.
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.
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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.
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?
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