How To Regain Your Strength After Pneumonia
While recovering from mild pneumonia, be sure to:
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Slowly work back into your exercise routine
“Physical activity can help your lungs regain strength but go slow. Start with light exercise and stop if your cough worsens or you have trouble breathing. If a light workout feels okay, you can put a little more effort into your next workout,” says Dr. Lee.
However, Dr. Lee’s advice for someone recovering from severe pneumonia looks quite different.
“The first thing to realize is that your body may be extremely weak after being discharged from the hospital, so you’ll need to take extra care leaning on your support network, if possible,” says Dr. Lee.
Pneumonia Can Be Preventedvaccines Can Help
Some patients with coronavirus disease 2019 have had pneumonia. Learn more about COVID-19.
Pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, needlessly affects millions of people worldwide each year.
Pneumonia can often be prevented and can usually be treated.
Lower your risk of pneumonia with vaccines and other healthy living practices.
CDC data showed that in the United States during 2018:
- 1.5 million people were diagnosed with pneumonia in an emergency department
- Approximately 44,000 people died from pneumonia
Most of the people affected by pneumonia in the United States are adults. Vaccines and appropriate treatment could prevent many of these deaths.
How Is Viral Pneumonia Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will ask about your signs and symptoms and examine you. He or she will listen to your heart and lungs. Tell him or her if you have been around anyone who is sick. You may need any of the following:
- A chest x-ray may show signs of infection in your lungs.
- A mucus sample is collected and tested for the virus that caused your pneumonia. Your healthcare provider may swab your throat or the inside of your nose to get a mucus sample. He or she may ask you to cough mucus into a cup.
- Blood tests may show signs of an infection.
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.
Are Vaccines Available To Prevent Pneumonia
Yes, there are two types of vaccines specifically approved to prevent pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria. Similar to a flu shot, these vaccines wont protect against all types of pneumonia, but if you do come down with pneumonia, its less likely to be as severe or potentially life-threatening especially for people who are at increased risk for pneumonia.
- Bacterial pneumonia: Two pneumonia vaccines, Pneumovax23® and Prevnar13®, protect against the most common causes of bacterial pneumonia.
- Pneumovax23® protects against 23 different types of pneumococcal bacteria. It is recommended for all adults 65 years of age and older and children over 2 years of age who are at increased risk for pneumonia.
- Prevnar13® protects against 13 types of pneumonia bacteria. It is recommended for all adults 65 years of age and older and children under 2 years of age. Ask your healthcare provider about these vaccines.
If you have children, ask their doctor about other vaccines they should get. Several childhood vaccines help prevent infections caused by the bacteria and viruses that can lead to pneumonia.
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How Serious Is Double Pneumonia
Pneumonia in any form is usually more serious for children under the age of five, adults over the age of 65, people with certain conditions like heart failure, diabetes, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , or people who have weakened immune systems, the NHLBI says.
Typically, double pneumonia is more serious for anyone, says Raymond Casciari, M.D., a pulmonologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif. If you have one good lung, it can meet all of your bodys needs until your other lung recovers. But, if both lungs are involved, youre in a fragile situation, he explains.
That said, it depends on the person and how their body reacts. One small area of the lungs thats affected by pneumonia can be life-threatening if its extensive, says Reynold Panettieri, M.D., a lung specialist and vice chancellor for translational medicine and science at Rutgers University. Sometimes, double pneumonia is well tolerated.
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.
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How Is It Treated
Antibiotics are the usual treatment, because the organism may not be found. But if the pneumonia is caused by a virus, antivirals may be given. Sometimes, antibiotics may be used to prevent complications.
Antibiotics usually cure pneumonia caused by bacteria. Be sure to take the antibiotics exactly as instructed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
Pneumonia can make you feel very sick. But after you take antibiotics, you should start to feel much better, although you will probably not be back to normal for several weeks. Call your doctor if you do not start to feel better after 2 to 3 days of antibiotics. Call your doctor right away if you feel worse.
There are things you can do to feel better during your treatment. Get plenty of rest and sleep, and drink lots of liquids. Do not smoke. If your cough keeps you awake at night, talk to your doctor about using cough medicine.
You may need to go to the hospital if you have bad symptoms, a weak immune system, or another serious illness.
Going To The Hospital
If you have severe pneumonia, you may have to go to the hospital:
- In most cases of pneumonia you get in your daily life, such as at school or work , it is not necessary to go to the hospital.footnote 2
- About one-third of people with community-based pneumonia are age 65 or older.footnote 2 Older adults are treated in the hospital more often and stay longer for the condition than younger people.footnote 2 Pneumonia is more serious in this group, because they often have and may develop other medical problems.
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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.
How Do You Get Pneumonia
You may get pneumonia:
- After you breathe infected air particles into your lungs.
- After you breathe certain bacteria from your nose and throat into your lungs.
- During or after a viral upper respiratory infection, such as a cold or influenza .
- As a complication of a viral illness, such as measles or chickenpox.
- If you breathe large amounts of food, gastric juices from the stomach, or vomit into the lungs . This can happen when you have had a medical condition that affects your ability to swallow, such as a seizure or a stroke.
A healthy person’s nose and throat often contain bacteria or viruses that cause pneumonia. Pneumonia can develop when these organisms spread to your lungs while your lungs are more likely to be infected. Examples of times when this can happen are during or soon after a cold or if you have a long-term illness, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .
You can get pneumonia in your daily life, such as at school or work or when you are in a hospital or nursing home . Treatment may differ in healthcare-associated pneumonia, because bacteria causing the infection in hospitals may be different from those causing it in the community. This topic focuses on community-associated pneumonia.
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Lower Your Risk By Getting Vaccinated
In the United States, vaccines can help prevent infection by some of the bacteria and viruses that can cause pneumonia:
These vaccines are safe, but side effects can occur. Most side effects are mild and go away on their own within a few days. See the vaccine information statements to learn more about common side effects. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines side effects.
Encourage friends and loved ones to make sure they are up to date with their vaccines.
World Pneumonia Dayexternal icon is observed each year on November 12th. Globally, pneumonia kills more than 670,000 children younger than 5 years old each year. This is greater than the number of deaths from any infectious disease, such as HIV infection, malaria, or tuberculosis.
What Is The Outlook For Pneumonia
People who are otherwise healthy often recover quickly when given prompt and proper care. However, pneumonia is a serious condition and can be life-threatening if left untreated and especially for those individuals at increased risk for pneumonia.
Even patients who have been successfully treated and have fully recovered may face long-term health issues. Children who have recovered from pneumonia have an increased risk of chronic lung diseases. Adults may experience:
- General decline in quality of life for months or years
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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.
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.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Bacterial Versus Viral Pneumonia In Adults
Symptoms of pneumonia can range from mild sometimes called walking pneumonia to severe. How serious your case of pneumonia depends on the particular germ causing pneumonia, your overall health, and your age.
Bacterial pneumonia: Symptoms of bacterial pneumonia can develop gradually or suddenly. Symptoms include:
- High fever
Additional symptoms appearing about a day later include:
- Higher fever
- Shortness of breath
Cough And Cold Medicines
Be careful with cough and cold medicines. They may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems, so check the label first. If you do use these medicines, always follow the directions about how much to use based on age and weight.
Always check to see if any over-the-counter cough or cold medicines you are taking contain acetaminophen. If they do, make sure the acetaminophen you are taking in your cold medicine plus any other acetaminophen you may be taking is not higher than the daily recommended dose. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how much you can take every day.
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Ginger Or Turmeric Tea
A persistent cough can result in chest pain. Drinking warm tea made with fresh ginger or turmeric root may help reduce this pain.
The roots of both of these plants can have a natural anti-inflammatory effect in the body.
Chop up a thumb sized piece of either root and boil it in a pint or so of water. If a person prefers strong tea, they can boil it for longer or add more of the root. If the flavor is too sharp, they can try adding a spoonful of honey.
How Pneumonia Spreads
Pneumonia is usually caused by viruses or bacteria passed from one person to another. Healthy people are normally able to fight off these germs without pneumonia developing. It’s usually safe for someone with pneumonia to be around others, including family.
People with a weakened immune system are less able to fight off infections. They should avoid close contact with a person with pneumonia.
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When To See A Doctor
Anyone who has difficulty breathing should seek medical help for diagnosis and treatment.
It is essential to follow any medical treatment plan that the doctor recommends and request additional help if the symptoms worsen or do not improve after a few days.
A doctor can also advise on some ways to prevent pneumonia from developing again.
It is not always possible to prevent pneumonia, but some lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of developing it or experiencing severe symptoms.
- avoiding air pollution, if possible
- managing stress levels and getting enough sleep
- practicing good hand-washing to reduce the risk of infection
- following any instructions the doctor recommends for staying healthy
In the case of COVID-19, experts advise physical distancing from other people to prevent the spread of the virus.
Healthful lifestyle habits can help strengthen the body to fight off infections, including those that lead to pneumonia.
Complications Caused By Pneumonia
Pneumonia can sometimes have complications. They include:
- pleurisy where the pleura, the thin linings between your lungs and ribcage, become inflamed, leading to chest pain. If you have pleurisy, you are more likely to develop fluid on the lungs.
- fluid on the lungs – about 1 in 10 people with pneumonia develop fluid around the lung, called a pleural effusion which can become infected. This may require a sample of the fluid to be taken by inserting a needle between the ribs under local anaesthetic, and if infected is likely to need a longer course of antibiotics. Occasionally, a tube is inserted into the lung to remove fluid as well.
- a lung abscess a rare complication thats mostly seen in people with a serious pre-existing illness or history of alcohol misuse.
- blood poisoning, also called septicaemia – this is where infection spreads from the lungs to the blood stream. This can cause low blood pressure and a severe illness that might need intensive care treatment.
- respiratory failure this is where pneumonia causes low levels of oxygen in the blood even in people given oxygen. This might also require intensive care treatment.
The vast majority of people recover from pneumonia and return to good health. However, pneumonia can be very serious and some people with severe pneumonia dont survive, despite the best available care. Those who are elderly or have other health problems are most at risk of severe or fatal pneumonia.
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