Running With Walking Pneumonia: A Teachable Moment
Founder, The Huffington Post Founder and CEO, Thrive Global
An awful lot has been written about walking pneumonia, and the entire nation is having a teach-in about the condition. But it’s actually an opportunity to have a teachable moment about a much larger condition — the fact that our culture incentivizes our politicians to go around like walking zombies.
This has been an insane political season, and this is yet another example. Specifically, how insane is the culture we’re living in that a) the Democratic nominee and her campaign decided it was a good idea to keep a full schedule even after the diagnosis of walking pneumonia, and b) that there is so much posturing about toughness that it’s seen as a weakness for a candidate to actually acknowledge that she’s human and needs to recharge — preferably before getting walking pneumonia?
Modern science unambiguously tells us that it’s not just our health that deteriorates when we’re run down, but our judgment as well. But too many people — including much of the electorate, many in the media, and, apparently, our two nominees — still seem to regard the idea of taking care of oneself, taking the time to recharge and get enough sleep, as a sign of weakness.
Ask About Cough Medicine
You may be tempted to guzzle cough syrup. But keep in mind that coughing is your bodyâs way of trying to clear the mucus out of your lungs, and you need that to happen. So ask your doctor if you should take any cough medicine. If the hacking keeps you from getting enough rest, you may be able to take the smallest dose that lets you fall sleep. Or try a warm mixture of honey and lemon instead.
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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Drink A Cup Of Ginger Tea
Ginger has also demonstrated anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties in recent research . As with turmeric, current research on ginger hasnt looked at whether it helps specifically with chest pain, but its a harmless, hydrating way to try and soothe the uncomfortable effects of pneumonia.
You can find loose or bagged ginger teas at your local grocery or online. Or, you can use raw ginger to make your own ginger tea.
Your fever may develop suddenly or over the course of a few days. With treatment, it should subside within the week.
How Can Walking Pneumonia Be Prevented
Unfortunately, no vaccines are available to prevent walking pneumonia caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Even if you have recovered from walking pneumonia, you will not become immune, so it is possible to become infected again in the future.
Tips for preventing walking pneumonia include:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. If a tissue isnt available, sneeze or cough into the inside of your elbow or sleeve. Never sneeze or cough into your hands. Place used tissues into a waste basket.
- Wash your hands often with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Wear a mask around sick people if you have respiratory conditions or other chronic health conditions that would make getting pneumonia even riskier for you.
- Get your annual Influenza shot. Bacterial pneumonia can develop after a case of the flu.
- Ask your doctor about the pneumococcal vaccine. Two types of vaccines are available, Prevnar 13® and Pneumovax 23®. Each vaccine is recommended for people at different age points or who are at increased risk for pneumococcal disease, including pneumonia.
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Drink Hot Peppermint Tea
Peppermint can also helpalleviate irritation and expel mucus. Research suggests that it can be an effective decongestant, anti-inflammatory, and painkiller.
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.
How Is Mycoplasma Spread
Mycoplasma is spread through contact with droplets from the nose and throat of infected people especially when they cough and sneeze. Transmission is thought to require prolonged close contact with an infected person. Spread in families, schools and institutions occurs slowly. The contagious period is probably fewer than 10 days and occasionally longer.
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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.
How Is Walking Pneumonia Different From Regular Pneumonia
Walking pneumonia differs from typical pneumonia in several ways, including:
- Walking pneumonia is a milder form of pneumonia.
- Walking pneumonia usually does not require bed rest or hospitalization.
- Walking pneumonia is usually caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Typical pneumonia is most commonly caused by _Streptococcus _pneumonia or influenza virus or rhinovirus.
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Things You Should Know About Pneumonia
- By Stephanie Watson, Executive Editor, Harvard Women’s Health Watch
Pneumonia is an infection that causes the air sacs in the lungs to fill up with fluid or pus, which makes it harder to breathe. The most common symptoms are cough that may be dry or produce phlegm, fever, chills and fatigue. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and pain in the chest. and shortness of breath. Signs that indicate a more severe infection are shortness of breath, confusion, decreased urination and lightheadedness. In the U.S., pneumonia accounts for 1.3 visits to the Emergency Department, and 50,000 deaths annually.
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to affect people around the world, pneumonia has become an even larger health concern. Some people infected with the COVID-19 have no symptoms, while others may experience fever, body ache, dry cough, fatigue, chills, headache, sore throat, loss of appetite, and loss of smell.
The more severe symptoms of COV-19, such as high fever, severe cough, and shortness of breath, usually mean significant lung involvement. The lungs can be damaged by overwhelming COVID-19 viral infection, severe inflammation, and/or a secondary bacterial pneumonia. COVID-19 can lead to long lasting lung damage.
Here are other important facts you should know about pneumonia:,
Facts About Mycoplasma Pneumoniae
About 2 million Mycoplasma pneumoniae infections occur each year in the U.S. About 5 to 10 percent of those infections turn into pneumonia. As many as 100,000 people each year are hospitalized because of it. Mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria can also cause bronchitis and a number of upper respiratory tract infections.
Mycoplasma pneumoniae is quite contagious. It can spread between people through bodily fluids, including phlegm that is coughed up. It can also spread through airborne droplets from sneezing and coughing. It is most easily spread among people who are in close contact with one another. This includes those living within households, military barracks, camps, and college dorms. Mycoplasma pneumoniae infections can spread through whole communities as well.
Mycoplasma pneumoniae is extremely common in school-aged children. It’s the most common cause of pneumonia in this age group. But these infections are rare in children younger than 5 years old.
Although Mycoplasma pneumoniae infections can occur at any time of year, they are most common in the late summer and fall.
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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.
How Can I Help My Child Feel Better
Your child should drink fluids throughout the day, especially if he or she has a fever. Ask the doctor before you use a medicine to treat a cough. Cough suppressants stop the lungs from clearing mucus, which might not be helpful for lung infections like walking pneumonia.
If your child has chest pain, try placing a heating pad or warm compress on the area. Take your child’s temperature at least once each morning and each evening. Call the doctor if it goes above 102°F in an older infant or child, or above 100.4°F in an infant under 6 months of age.
With treatment, most types of bacterial pneumonia go away within 1 to 2 weeks. Coughing can take up to 4 to 6 weeks to stop.
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Telltale Signs Of Walking Pneumonia
Even if you feel well enough to go to work or school, signs of walking pneumonia shouldnt be ignored. Unlike a cold or other upper respiratory virus, most cases of atypical pneumonia among adults are caused by a common bacterium called Mycoplasma pneumoniae. In many cases, Mycoplasma causes a chest cold that can evolve into pneumonia.
Walking pneumonia symptoms typically come on slowly and include sore throat, headache, malaise and low-grade fever which tend to be less severe than they are with pneumonia. In fact, symptoms of walking pneumonia may be so mild that they dont affect your ability to carry out your day-to-day routine.
A wet or dry cough usually follows these early symptoms. Some people may also experience chest pain caused by inflammation in the lining of the lungs, which gets worse when they take a deep breath.
There are several possible reasons why people may develop a chronic cough but if you have walking pneumonia, you may find yourself coughing so much that your chest becomes sore. And unlike a cold that resolves in a matter of days, the nagging cough associated with walking pneumonia could persist for weeks. Over time, symptoms could get worse. You might develop a higher fever. Your dry cough could also become wet, causing you to cough up discolored phlegm.
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.
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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 Common Is Pneumonia
Approximately 1 million adults in the United States are hospitalized each year for pneumonia and 50,000 die from the disease. It is the second most common reason for being admitted to the hospital — childbirth is number one. Pneumonia is the most common reason children are admitted to the hospital in the United States. Seniors who are hospitalized for pneumonia face a higher risk of death compared to any of the top 10 other reasons for hospitalization.
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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.
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.
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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.
Walking Pneumonia: 101 For Parents
Have you heard the term walking pneumonia and wondered, What in the world?
Walking pneumonia is a common illness in children. You may also hear your doctor refer to it as atypical pneumonia. It is an infection of the lungs, but tends to be a less serious form than typical pneumonia.
Kids who have walking pneumonia often look pretty good. Instead of being sacked out on the couch, theyre up and walking aroundthats where the illness gets its name. However, it is caused by a bacteria and needs proper treatment in order to clear it up.
Frequently Asked Questions About Walking Pneumonia
Here are the questions I most often answer about walking pneumonia:
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Top 9 Ways To Reduce The Risk Of Pneumonia If You Or A Loved One Is Hospitalized
What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. A variety of organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi, can cause pneumonia. Certain people are more likely to get sick with pneumonia including adults 65 years of age or older children younger than 5 years of age people who have medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or asthma and people who smoke cigarettes.
Being in the hospital can place a patient at a higher risk of developing pneumonia because of procedures that disrupt normal breathing, like needing a breathing tube , inactivity, or taking certain medications.
What steps can I take with my healthcare team to prevent pneumonia when Im in the hospital?
1. Clean your hands and make sure that your healthcare providers do the same. Keeping your hands clean is the number one way to prevent the spread of infection. Clean your hands after using the bathroom after sneezing, blowing your nose, or coughing before eating when visiting someone who is sick or whenever your hands are dirty. This applies to visitors too.
3. Wear the right things Healthcare providers should wear gowns, gloves, masks, or face shields when performing certain tasks like suctioning the patients secretions and inserting a breathing tube, and change them after they are soiled with respiratory secretions. Protective coverings keep germs from moving from healthcare providers to patients.