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.
Drink Hot Peppermint Tea
If you dont already have peppermint tea, you can pick up loose or bagged teas at your local grocery or online. And if you have fresh peppermint, you can easily make your own tea.
You may wish to deeply inhale the aroma of the peppermint tea while the tea is steeping. This might help clear your nasal pathways.
Crowded Indoor Conditions Increase Your Risk
Generally speaking, young children and teens are at greatest risk for walking pneumonia but anyone could be affected, particularly if they live or work in crowded settings, such as schools, college dorms, military barracks and nursing homes.
Walking pneumonia is spread by droplet particles usually within a few feet of an individual when they cough.
Those recovering from a recent respiratory illness, or those who have a weakened immune system, may also have an increased risk for walking pneumonia. Specifically, any patient that has an underlying lung disease, like asthma, emphysema or COPD and the elderly are at a higher risk for any type of infection, especially pneumonia.
These higher-risk patients are also more likely to have a more severe case of walking pneumonia, which can lead to complications, such as serious pneumonia, asthma attacks, swelling of the brain, kidney problems and certain skin conditions.
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Why Should I Worry About Pneumonia
People with asthma have a higher risk of developing pneumonia due to previous lung damage or weakness of the lung tissue caused by asthma. In fact, pneumonia is a leading cause of hospitalization in children and adults. How your body responds to pneumonia depends on which type of infection you have, your age and overall health. While anyone can get pneumonia, people living with asthma are more likely to develop pneumonia after getting sick with the flu than people without asthma. Adults 65 or older living with asthma have a 5.9 times greater risk than their healthy counterparts of contracting pneumococcal pneumonia. This is because as you get older, your bodys immune system naturally weakens making it harder for our bodies to fight off infections. It can also take you longer to recover and you are more likely to develop serious complications. Assess and understand your risk for getting pneumococcal pneumonia by taking our quick risk assessment.
Besides Vaccination What Else Can I Do To Prevent Bacterial And Viral Pneumonia
Receiving all recommended vaccinations is one of the best ways to prevent pneumonia. Additionally, there are several other ways to prevent pneumonia, including:
- Quitting smoking, and avoiding secondhand smoke. Smoking damages your lungs.
- Washing your hands before eating, before handling food, after using the restroom, and after being outside. If soap is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoiding being around people who are sick. Ask them to visit when they are feeling better.
- Not touching or sharing objects that are shared with others. Germs can be transferred from object to you if you touch your nose or mouth without washing or sanitizing your hands first.
- Eating a healthy diet, exercise, and get enough rest. Healthy habits keep your immune system strong.
- Getting treated for any other infections or health conditions you may have. These conditions could weaken your immune system, which could increase your chance of infections.
- Avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol.
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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.
Peppermint Eucalyptus And Fenugreek Tea
Many warm herbal teas can help soothe a scratchy throat, but herbs may be more beneficial.
A 2011 study found that herbs, including peppermint and eucalyptus, had a soothing effect on the throats of people with upper respiratory tract infections. These herbs may help break up mucus and ease the pain and inflammation caused by pneumonia.
A review from 2018 notes that fenugreek seeds might help break down mucus. A tea made from ground fenugreek seeds may therefore ease a persistent cough.
Eucalyptus and tea tree oils may also help relieve coughs. People can use these in a diffuser. However, they should try limiting their exposure at first, to ensure that the use of oils does not worsen their symptoms.
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When Does A Cough Turn Into Pneumonia
If you prefer to listen to this article, click on the SoundCloud player below.
So youve been coughing for a while, and instead of getting better, it seems like your cough is getting worse. Maybe youve even started coughing up phlegm or have pain in your chest when you cough. Those are signs your cough might actually be pneumonia.
Pneumonia is an infection in your lungs that can range from mild to life-threatening, which causes your lungs to fill up with fluid or pus. You may experience difficulty breathing or have a fever. If youre a healthy young adult, pneumonia might not be as serious as it is for very young kids or adults over age 65.
Whether youve had your cough for three days or three weeks, knowing the symptoms of pneumonia and when to go to the doctor can help put your mind at ease.
How Is Pneumonia Diagnosed
Pneumonia can sometimes be hard to diagnose because the symptoms are the same as for a bad cold or flu. If you think it could be pneumonia, you should see your doctor. Your doctor may diagnose pneumonia based on your medical history and the results from a physical exam. He or she will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope. Your doctor may also do some tests, such as a chest X-ray or a blood test. A chest X-ray can show your doctor if you have pneumonia and how widespread the infection is. Blood and mucus tests can help your doctor tell whether bacteria, a virus, or a fungal organism is causing your pneumonia.
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How Long Does It Take To Recover From Pneumonia
“Pneumonia is a serious illness that can take quite a toll on a person’s lungs and body. It can take anywhere from a week to several months to fully recover from it,” says Dr. Rayman Lee, pulmonologist at Houston Methodist.
The length of time it takes for you to recover from pneumonia is influenced by:
- Your age
- The severity of your illness
- Whether you have other health conditions
- The type of pneumonia
If you’re generally healthy and have only a mild case of pneumonia, your symptoms should begin to improve one to two days after starting treatment.
“Most people with mild pneumonia are able to return to their everyday activities in a week, although fatigue and cough can linger for an entire month,” says Dr. Lee.
Recovery timelines become more murky for people who have severe pneumonia.
“For more serious cases that require hospitalization, we’re not only focused on clearing the infection, we’re also focused on preventing or treating complications that can develop including difficulty breathing, fluid buildup in the lungs, sepsis, acute respiratory distress syndrome and lung abscesses,” warns Dr. Lee.
Pneumonia and its complications can wreak havoc on a person’s lungs and body. And, it can take anywhere from one to six months for a person to recover and regain strength after being hospitalized for 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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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Can I Prevent Pneumonia
The routine vaccinations that most people receive as kids help prevent certain types of pneumonia and other infections. If you have a chronic illness, such as sickle cell disease, you may have received extra vaccinations and disease-preventing antibiotics to help prevent pneumonia and other infections caused by bacteria.
People should get a pneumococcal vaccination if they have diseases that affect their immune system , are 65 years or older, or are in other high-risk groups. Depending on the bugs that are likely to affect them, these people also may get antibiotics to prevent pneumonia, as well as antiviral medicine to prevent or lessen the effects of viral pneumonia.
Doctors recommend that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu shot. That’s because someone with the flu could then come down with pneumonia. Call your doctor’s office or check your local health department to see when these vaccines are available.
Because pneumonia is often caused by germs, a good way to prevent it is to keep your distance from anyone you know who has pneumonia or other respiratory infections. Use separate drinking glasses and eating utensils wash your hands often with warm, soapy water and avoid touching used tissues and paper towels.
You also can stay strong and help avoid some of the illnesses that might lead to pneumonia by eating as healthily as possible, getting a minimum of 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night, and not smoking.
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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S To Prevent Walking Pneumonia
Since walking pneumonia is often spread by coughing and sneezing, you can help prevent the transmission of germs by covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing, whether with a tissue or your upper sleeve.
In order to stay healthy, you should also:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
- Dont smoke .
- Take steps to help boost your immune system by getting adequate sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.
- Avoid exposure to others who are sick.
In particular, people who have underlying lung disease should be careful and have a heightened awareness of what steps to take to prevent walking pneumonia. Don’t downplay a cough. If you need expert care, we are here for you at your neighborhood ER.
Apply A Lukewarm Compress Or Take A Lukewarm Bath
Submerging your body in a lukewarm bath might help you bring down your body temperature.
You can also use a lukewarm compress to help cool your body from the outside inward if a bath is not convenient. Although it may be tempting to use a cold compress, the sudden temperature shift can cause chills. A lukewarm compress provides a more gradual, comfortable temperature change.
Chills may come on before or during a fever. They typically subside after your fever breaks. This may last up to a week, depending on when you begin treatment for pneumonia.
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Beyond The Usual And Even The Unusual Suspects
But what do we do for patients who either do not respond to treatments for their common conditions, or for whom extensive evaluation rules out the less common causes of a chronic cough? Well, researchers are now describing a new family of breathing and cough conditions caused by nerve dysfunction.
New evidence suggests that postnasal drip, acid reflux, or even forceful coughing in and of itself can aggravate nerve endings in the “cough centers” of the airways. These aggravated nerve endings then overreact to many other triggers, such as smoke, perfume, or temperature changes, causing an overwhelming urge to cough. They label this condition “neuronal hyper-responsiveness syndrome” and outline several approaches to treatment.
But wait, theres more. Other researchers describe a similar concept at the level of the larynx, a family of disorders under “laryngeal dysfunction syndrome” that can include “laryngeal hyper-responsiveness.” Many of the treatments they describe are similar to the treatments for “neuronal hyper-responsiveness,” and the most promising include the anticonvulsants gabapentin and pregabalin, the antidepressant amitriptyline, speech therapy, or a combination of these.
Basically, medical experts are describing a new cause of chronic cough based on aggravated nerves and airway dysfunction, and more research will result in better treatments.
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.
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