What Other Problems Can Pneumonia Cause
Sometimes pneumonia can cause serious complications such as:
- Bacteremia, which happens when the bacteria move into the bloodstream. It is serious and can lead to .
- Lung abscesses, which are collections of pus in cavities of the lungs
- Pleural disorders, which are conditions that affect the pleura. The pleura is the tissue that covers the outside of the lungs and lines the inside of your chest cavity.
- Respiratory failure
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.
Other Viral Pneumonia Causes
Viral pneumonia can be caused by influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus , and herpes or varicella viruses as well as those that cause the common cold .
Depending on which virus is involved, the symptoms, severity, and treatment vary.
- Influenza A and B usually occur in the winter and spring. In addition to the respiratory symptoms, you can get headache, fever, and muscle aches. Your chance of catching the flu decreases significantly if you get immunized every year.
- Respiratory syncytial virus is most common in the spring. It usually infects children and can cause outbreaks in day-care centers and hospital nurseries.
- Herpes, or varicella, pneumonia is rare unless you are infected with chickenpox. This tends to be a more common complication in adults who get chickenpox.
- Adenovirus and parainfluenza viral pneumonias are often accompanied by cold symptoms such as runny nose and pinkeye .
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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.
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:
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Can You Catch Pneumonia More Than Once
Yes. Pneumonia is caused by many different microbes, and so getting it once does not protect you from getting it again. If you get pneumonia more than once you may need to have more investigations to understand why this has happened. It could be due to a problem in your chest or your immune system, and you may be referred to a specialist.
Viral Pneumonia Vs Bacterial Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs. Doctors classify pneumonia according to its cause. The usual causes of pneumonia include:
- Fungal infections
Bacterial and viral pneumonia are more common than pneumonia resulting from fungal infections.
Bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae cause bacterial pneumonia. This type of pneumonia is usually more severe than viral pneumonia.
The symptoms of bacterial pneumonia may include:
- very high fever
- a cough with blood or mucus
- tiredness or lack of energy
Viral pneumonia may have some of the same symptoms, but the symptoms tend to be less severe.
Bacterial pneumonia requires treatment with antibiotics. Antibiotics do not help treat viral pneumonia unless there is a secondary bacterial cause.
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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.
When To See A Doctor
People with a higher risk of developing pneumonia should see a doctor or visit an emergency room immediately if they develop flu-like symptoms alongside any of the following:
- Chest pain
- There is confusion in older adults.
- difficulty breathing or rapid breathing.
Pneumonia can be extremely serious in higher-risk individuals. These people will need immediate treatment for the best outcome.
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Critical Role Of Pneumococcal Vaccine In Preventing Pneumonia
In children aged three months to four years, the most common type of bacterial pneumonia is Strep. pneumoniae. In children greater than age four, it remains in the top three most common types. The pneumococcal vaccine series, started at two months of age, significantly reduces the rates of bacterial pneumonia from Strep. Pneumoniae. The vaccine is usually administered during wellness or prevention visits and cannot be given to a child with a fever. This emphasizes the need for healthcare access globally.6
With global vaccination rates currently plateauing, the challenges of diagnosing and treating community acquired pneumonia are even more pertinent for prevention of severe respiratory illness. Vaccine uptake challenges can be overcome with global measures to increase the access and use of vaccines. Addressing vaccine use and providing education about common pneumonia symptoms can aid in early diagnosis of pneumonia and lower the rate of severe respiratory illness and prolonged hospitalization.
World Health Organization Health Topics. Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals: National programs and systems on improving vaccination demand and addressing hesitancy. 17 June 2020 update.
Popovsky EY, Florin TA. Community-Acquired Pneumonia in Childhood. Reference Module in Biomedical Sciences. 2020 B978-0-08-102723-3.00013-5. doi:10.1016/B978-0-08-102723-3.00013-5
Where Can You Acquire Pneumonia
You can get pneumonia from a variety of different places, which include:
- Community-acquired pneumonia . This is pneumonia that you get outside of a hospital or healthcare facility. Its estimated that CAP is the third most common cause of hospitalization in people ages 65 years and older.
- Healthcare-associated pneumonia. This is pneumonia that you acquire while in a healthcare facility. Older adults who are hospitalized or in a long-term care facility may be at an increased risk for this type of pneumonia.
- Aspiration pneumonia. This happens when you inhale things like food, saliva, or vomit into your lungs. Older individuals with swallowing disorders can be at higher risk for developing this type of pneumonia.
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What Health Complications Can Pneumonia Lead To
If you have flu-like symptoms that persist or worsen despite treatment, talk to your doctor.
Your doctor can monitor your lungs while you inhale, listening for crackling sounds that are audible only with a stethoscope.
In order to confirm the diagnosis and identify the specific germ causing the illness, you may get a chest X-ray as well as a blood test, depending on your medical history and physical exam, if your doctor suspects that you have pneumonia.
If left untreated, pneumonia can become severe.
People with severe pneumonia experience higher fevers along with GI symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea, as well as:
- Difficulty breathing
Who Is Most At Risk For Getting Pneumonia
People who have an increased risk of pneumonia include:
- People over the age of 65 and infants under age 2. The weakening immune system of older people makes them less able to fight off illnesses. Similarly, the immune system of infants is still developing and not at full-strength, making them more susceptible to infection.
- People with a health-caused weakened immune system. Examples include:
- People who are receiving chemotherapy
- Transplanted organ recipients
- People who have HIV/AIDS
- People with autoimmune disease and who are taking medications that suppress the immune system.
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What Are The Symptoms
Viral pneumonia usually moves in steadily over a few days. On the first day it feels like the flu, with symptoms like:
- Muscle pain
After a day or so your fever might get worse. You might also feel like you canât catch your breath. If your lungs are invaded with bacteria, you might also get some of the same symptoms as bacterial pneumonia, like:
- A wet, gunky cough that produces green, yellow, or bloody mucus
- Chills that make you shake
- Confusion, especially if youâre older
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How Is It Treated
Your doctor wonât prescribe antibiotics, because they donât kill viruses. Usually, viral pneumonia just has to run its course. In some cases, your doctor might prescribe an antiviral medication. They might also suggest medication for pain and fever.
Here are some things you can do that will help you feel better:
- Get lots of rest.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Theyâll loosen up the gunk in your lungs so you can cough it out.
- Use a humidifier or take a warm bath .
- Donât smoke.
- Stay home until your fever goes down and youâre not coughing anything out.
Youâll begin to feel better as the virus runs its course. This usually takes a few days. But you might not feel completely better for about 1 to 3 weeks. If youâre elderly or have other medical conditions, your recovery could take longer. Make sure you keep your follow-up appointments so your doctor can check your lungs.
Hospital stays for viral pneumonia arenât common. But if your case is stubborn or severe, and you do have to go to the hospital, you might get:
- Oxygen treatment
- Treatments to help loosen up the gunk
Facts You Should Know About Viral Pneumonia
- Pneumonia is an infection or inflammation of the lungs. It can be in just one part of the lungs, or it can involve many parts.
- Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms.
- The severity of pneumonia depends on which organism is causing the infection and the immune response of the individual to that infection.
- The deadly pandemic COVID-19 coronavirus causes severe lung symptoms including pneumonia in about 16%-20% of the people who contract it. Five percent of those with severe symptoms need a ventilator to breathe, as of March 2020.
- Viral pneumonias other than the one caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 are usually not very serious, but they can be life-threatening in very old and very young patients and in people whose immune systems are weak.
- Another two of the most publicized viral infections causing pneumonia are SARS and H1N1swine flu. Severe acute respiratory syndrome , which is also caused by a virus in the coronavirus family, had a major outbreak in 2003 with an estimated 8,000 cases and 750 deaths.
- Swine flu was associated with an outbreak of pneumonia in 2009. Early reports came from cases in Mexico, with very high mortality. Many cases were also reported in the U.S. However, early identification and treatment helped reduce the death rate significantly.
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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.
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 don’t 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 you’ll be back to normal in no time.
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When To Call The Doctor
You should call your childs doctor if your child:
- Has trouble breathing or is breathing much faster than usual
- Has a bluish or gray color to the fingernails or lips
- Is older than 6 months and has a fever over 102°F
- Is younger than 6 months and has a temperature over 100.4°F.
- Has a fever for more than a few days after taking antibiotics
When your child should stay home and return to school or childcare
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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How Is Walking Pneumonia Different
Walking pneumonia, also known as atypical pneumonia, is caused by mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria. It usually causes cold-like symptoms, in addition to a fever and a hacking cough. It is most common in school-aged children and young adults, says Annette Cameron, MD, a Yale Medicine pediatrician.
Because this type of pneumonia typically causes milder symptoms, it may go undiagnosed for a while, especially if the child is able to participate in normal activities and isnt as visibly sick as he or she would be with other forms of pneumonia. And thats why its called walking pneumonia, Dr. Cameron says. It might just be a little bit of malaise. Sometimes you can have community-acquired, or bacterial pneumonia, along with walking pneumonia, in which case we would just treat both of them.
How Can I Manage My Symptoms
- Rest as needed. Rest often while you recover. Slowly start to do more each day.
- Drink liquids as directed. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Liquids help thin your mucus, which may make it easier for you to cough it up.
- Do not smoke. Avoid secondhand smoke. Smoking makes it harder for you to get better. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
- Use a cool mist humidifier. A humidifier will help increase air moisture in your home. This may make it easier for you to breathe and help decrease your cough.
- Keep your head elevated. You may be able to breathe better if you lie down with the head of your bed up.
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