How To Feel Better
Theres no treatment for COVID-19, although if you have to stay in the hospital, some medicines may shorten your recovery.
Some of the things you can do to speed your healing are similar to how you might take care of the flu or a bad cold.
Eat healthy foods. If you feel like eating, fuel your body with the vitamins and nutrients it needs to get better. Limit sugary or highly processed foods like cookies and sodas. If you dont have an appetite, you dont need to try to force food down.
Drinks lots of fluids. Do this even if you dont feel like eating. Water is always a good pick.
Lower your fever. Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen if you have a temperature or body aches. Be careful not to take more than a total of 3,000 milligrams every 24 hours. That includes acetaminophen alone as well as in medications like cold and flu pills and syrups.
Rest. Know that youll probably feel better eventually. If your symptoms do get worse, call your doctor.
J. Randall Curtis, MD, A. Bruce Montgomery, American Lung Association Endowed Chair in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington, Seattle.
World Health Organization: Coronavirus disease 2019 Situation Report — 41, Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 , WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 — 24 February 2020.
National Health Service : Cough.
Can The Pneumonia Vaccine Prevent Pneumonia
It is not possible to prevent all types of pneumonia, but one can take steps to reduce the chance of contracting the condition by quitting smoking, practicing good hand-washing, and avoiding contact with people who have colds, the flu, or other infections.
A vaccine is available against the most common bacterial cause of pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae . There are two types of vaccine: PPSV23 , a pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine against 23 types of the bacteria, and PCV13 , a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine that protects against 13 types of the bacteria. These vaccines may not always prevent pneumococcal pneumonia, but they may prevent serious complications of pneumonia if it does occur.
Avoidance of areas where fungal pathogens are endemic is recommended to prevent fungal pneumonias. There is no antifungal vaccine available however, for some high-risk patients, some doctors have recommended prophylactic antifungal drugs.
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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 pneumonia complications.
- 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. Visit How Sleep Works to get more information.
- Get light physical activity. Moving around can help you regain your strength and improve your recovery. However, you may still feel short of breath. Activity that is too strenuous may make you dizzy. Talk to your provider 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.
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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.
What You Need To Know:
Pneumonia is an infection in your lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. You can become infected if you come in contact with someone who is sick. You can get pneumonia if you recently had surgery or needed a ventilator to help you breathe. Pneumonia can also be caused by accidentally inhaling saliva or small pieces of food. Pneumonia may cause mild symptoms, or it can be severe and life-threatening.
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How Is Pneumonia Spread From Person To Person
Pneumonia is spread when droplets of fluid containing the pneumonia bacteria or virus are launched in the air when someone coughs or sneezes and then inhaled by others. You can also get pneumonia from touching an object previously touched by the person with pneumonia or touching a tissue used by the infected person and then touching your mouth or nose.
How Can I Help Myself Feel Better
If your doctor has prescribed medicine, follow the directions carefully.
You may feel better in a room with a humidifier, which increases the moisture in the air and soothes irritated lungs. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, especially if you have a fever. If you have a fever and feel uncomfortable, ask the doctor whether you can take over-the-counter medicine such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to bring it down. But dont take any medicine without checking first with your doctor a cough suppressant, for example, may not allow your lungs to clear themselves of mucus.
And finally, be sure to rest. This is a good time to sleep, watch TV, read, and lay low. If you treat your body right, it will repair itself and youll be back to normal in no time.
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How Can I Prevent Aspiration Pneumonia Or Reduce My Risk Of Getting Aspiration Pneumonia
Things that you can do to reduce your risk of aspiration pneumonia include the following:
- Avoid drinking alcohol to excess and using recreational drugs. These can affect your ability to swallow.
- Stay upright when you are eating.
- Chew slowly and completely.
- If you have problems swallowing , talk to your healthcare provider. They might need to change or adjust your diet or medication. They can also order tests or refer you to a speech professional or swallowing specialist.
- Dont smoke or use nicotine products.
- Take good care of your teeth.
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How Is Pneumonia In The Elderly Treated
For most adults, antibiotics are used to treat pneumonia. For those who are more fragile or who have other health issues, inpatient treatment is required. This can mean being admitted to the ICU, being intubated and placed on a respirator, and having advanced breathing treatments with pneumonia-specific medications. It can also mean all of these treatment options.
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Pneumonia Recovery May Include Hospitalization
For severe cases of pneumonia, you may need to stay in the hospital where you can receive treatments not available over the counter or at the local pharmacy.
For instance, you may need oxygen to supplement your lungs until they recover and can work at full capacity again. You also may need higher doses of antibiotics or other medicines, which a healthcare professional administers directly into the bloodstream through an intravenous line.
To help loosen the mucus in your lungs, you may need a series of coupled with breathing exercises.
People at a higher risk for hospitalization with pneumonia include:
- Infants and young children
- Adults age 65 and older
- People with a suppressed immune system
- People with a health condition that affects the lungs or heart
If you are hospitalized for pneumonia treatment, your full pneumonia recovery time could be 6 to 8 weeks or longer, although you may go home well before then.
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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Young People Are Not Invincible
As Head of the Respiratory Group at the George Institute for Global Health, Prof. Jenkins is an expert in diseases affecting the lung and the respiratory passageways. She says that older age has always been a risk factor for most types of pneumonia the more advanced your age, the more vulnerable you are to getting pneumonia and having catastrophic outcomes from it.
Young people, on the other hand, are more likely to get asymptomatic COVID-19 where the virus infects the body but does not show symptoms. And while they have shown to recover quicker from COVID-19, they are not immune to developing COVID-19 pneumonia.
In a recent study published in the United States, in a group of over 5000 people, they found that 1 per cent of people under 20 were diagnosed with COVID-19 pneumonia, says Prof Jenkins.
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In addition, no one in that age group who developed pneumonia died.
So, if youre a young person, it seems you are much more likely to get an asymptomatic event with COVID-19.
Prof. Jenkins says young people who do develop pneumonia are less likely to require ventilation.
Read more: What we’ve learned about managing COVID-19 pneumonia
We still dont fully understand what determines the age benefits of being 20 as opposed to 70.
Now, you might think thats obvious, but let me remind you that with the Spanish flu, it was young people who died.
A Skilled Nursing Facility Offers Safety And Comfort
If youve been hospitalized from pneumonia, its important to understand that release from the hospital only means youre no longer in critical condition it does not mean you have recovered. In fact, as mentioned above, it could be weeks or even months before you regain your strength and feel like yourself again. Transitioning into a skilled nursing facility between the hospital and home ensures that you get the care you need while you recover in a safe, nurturing environment.
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How You Might Feel While Recovering
Not everyone who catches SARS-CoV-2 will notice symptoms. If you do get them, they may show up 2 to 14 days after your infection. And those symptoms can vary from one person to the next.
One of the most common signs is a fever, which for most adults is 100.4 F or higher. It means your body is trying to fight off an invader.
About 50% of people who become ill have a dry cough. Thats the kind that doesnt bring up any mucus or phlegm. But about a third have a cough with mucus.
You also might feel very tired. Less commonly, your throat may be sore and your head might ache. Your muscles and joints could hurt, and you might get chills, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Some people who had COVID-19 said they had trouble taking deep breaths and felt like they had a tight band wrapped around their chest. Others have likened the illness to a bad cold. Still others said it was the sickest theyve ever felt.
Loss of smell and taste have been reported in many cases. Some patients have skin rashes and darkened toes, called COVID toes.
You might feel short of breath, as if youd just run to grab a ringing phone. If so, call your doctor to ask about what you should do.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Pneumonia In The Elderly
As with many diseases and illnesses, the signs and symptoms vary from one person to the next and may mimic other disorders too. In general terms, the following are common signs and symptoms of pneumonia in the elderly.
As mentioned, the symptoms of pneumonia vary from one person to the next and change based on the health level of the person who is inflicted. Those with chronic disease have the hardest time, but pneumonia can be deadly even in the healthiest of our elders.
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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.
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Can Complications Occur During The Recovery Process
People can recover totally from Pneumonia, but theres a possibility of infections, a reduction in the capacity of the lungs, and a possibility of complications. Such complications are:
- Pleural Effusion: Fluid accumulating around the lungs is known as Pleural Effusion. Pneumonia may cause fluid to build up in the thin spaces between layers of tissue that line the lungs and chest cavity . If the fluid becomes infected, you may need to have it drained through a chest tube or removed with surgery.
- Difficulty in breathing: Respiratory difficulty is a common feature of pneumonia. The patient even after receiving treatment, could still have difficulties in breathing for a period. This might result in a need to be hospitalized or the use of a ventilator until the lungs heal properly.
- Lung abscesses: This is the build-up of pus in the lungs. This complication is most common among older people, people with weakened immune systems, and people who misuse alcohol.
Developing complications while trying to get better is disheartening, which is why you should find a lungdoctor around you if you think youre not recovering as well as you should or experiencing complications.
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Recovering From Pneumonia Fatigue
Fatigue is one of the last symptoms to depart on the road to pneumonia recovery. It may be several months before you begin to regain your energy. Better Health Channel recommends nutrition tips that will help you fight fatigue, such as:
- Eat foods rich in iron, such as red meat, as iron deficiency can result in feeling fatigued.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, wholegrain foods and low fat dairy products.
- Drink plenty of water, especially after exercise.
- Eat breakfast and don’t skip meals, so that your blood sugar levels don’t dip.
- Try not to overeat, as this too can alter blood sugar levels and drain your energy.
Other strategies for fighting fatigue include regularly doing physical activity, getting enough sleep and limiting your caffeine intake, avoiding smoking and reducing stressors. Ask your doctor which options are best for you in order to combat fatigue and weakness after pneumonia.
I Recently Had Severe Pneumonia
I have recently been discharged from hospital after having severe pneumonia and have been recovering at home. I have a secondary infection of pleurisy for which I have been taking anti-inflammatory painkillers, which do seem to be helping. My sleep has been very badly affected, and since admission to hospital I stopped smoking and have not smoked or drunk alcohol since. I have elevated liver function results, which I am told is as a result of the large amount of intravenous antibiotics that I had in hospital, and I have been feeling some pain in my chest. I am having follow up blood tests tomorrow.The question that I cannot seem to get a good answer is about when to return to work, and what to avoid. I ventured out today and encountered people with colds, and this has made me exceptionally paranoid about getting sick again, so I am unsure what to do. I was planning on trying to return to work on Monday to see how it went, as I do get out of breath quickly. I want the flu jab, but I am told I have to wait a while before I can have this now. Any advice would be useful, as some doctors say return to work when you want, and those in hospital said I have to wait 6 weeks.
26 April 2021
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