Friday, May 26, 2023

What Causes Pneumonia In Elderly

Is Pneumonia Treated Any Differently In Children

Why recovering from pneumonia is an uphill battle for the elderly

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.

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What Is The Recovery Time For Pneumonia In The Elderly

A simple Google search for that question makes us think that an elderly person can recover from pneumonia in in as little as two weeks but it may take two months or longer to recover completely.

A study that appeared in the Patient Related Outcome Measures Journal shed some light on the vast difference between a short recovery and a long one.

They begin by understanding the health status of the elderly person who is afflicted with pneumonia. For those that are in good health, expect a recovery time of about three weeks. In that period, shortness of breath, weakness, and fatigue are common. If the elderly person has existing health conditions, especially those that involve the respiratory system, such as COPD the recovery period can take as long as 60 or more days and be far more challenging.

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

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Where And How Seniors May Contract Pneumonia

Being around people increases your risk of contracting pneumonia. However, specific scenarios apply to older adults:

  • Healthcare Settings: Older adults have a higher risk of getting pneumonia here, compared to other age groups.
  • Community-Acquired Pneumonia: In a large group of people, you have a higher risk of contracting pneumonia. This includes senior care settings and family gatherings.
  • Aspiration: Due to muscle weakness, older adults have a higher risk for developing pneumonia when outside particles and fluid enter the lungs.

Older adults are more likely to develop the condition from bacteria streptococcus pneumoniae and haemophilus influenzae, as well as common respiratory viruses like the flu.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Pneumonia

Symptoms Of Pneumonia In Elderly: Diagnosis and Treatment

There are many symptoms associated with pneumonia. However, the symptoms can vary from person to person, making it difficult for seniors or their loved ones to recognize the infection. Some symptoms may also be very mild, making it hard for seniors themselves to notice them. Thats why its important for everyone to be aware of the potential signs and symptoms.

Below are some of the most common symptoms presented with pneumonia:

  • Coughing: Pneumonia often causes a cough that results in green or yellow phlegm. This cough may also be accompanied by chest pain.
  • Shortness of Breath: Pneumonia may cause belabored breathing, including rapid or shallow breaths.
  • Weakness: Due to the lack of oxygen in the blood and the extra effort required to breathe, seniors may experience weakness, fatigue, or lack of energy.
  • Confusion: Seniors may experience confusion or changes in mental sharpness as a symptom of pneumonia.
  • Fever or Chills: Seniors may experience low body temperatures, fever, and chills. They may also experience sweating or shaking.
  • Loss of Appetite: Pneumonia may cause a loss of appetite, although this may be a result of aging or other health conditions as well.

If you notice these signs in yourself or a loved one, see a medical professional who can provide a diagnosis and treatment options. Delaying treatment options could result in a serious health threat.

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Pneumonia Owing To Less Common Pathogens Including Multidrug

Gram-negative bacilli

Gram-negative bacilli are detected in 2.8% to 14.0% of CAP cases, and may colonize the respiratory tract of elderly patients with oropharyngeal dysphagia, particularly those admitted to the hospital from LTCFs., Among LTCF patients with severe aspiration pneumonia, enteric Gram-negative bacilli were detected as the predominant cause in 49% of cases.

In the Competence Network for Community-Acquired Pneumonia study, predictors of CAP owing to Enterobacteriaceae included age greater than 65 years, heart failure and cerebrovascular disease.Pseudomonas aeruginosa was reported in 2.0% to 17.1% of patients, and was associated with impaired swallowing, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchiectasis, severe disease, admission from nursing homes, and presence of a feeding tube., , , , Although there are no data that support empiric anti-Pseudomonas treatment in elderly patients, this pathogen should be considered in severe infection in the presence of structural lung disease and known prior colonization.

Resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae

Staphylococcus aureus including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Risk factors for community-acquired pneumonia owing to multidrug-resistant organisms

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 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.

What Other Problems Can Pneumonia Cause

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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.

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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.
  • Viral pneumonia: Get a flu vaccine once every year. Flu vaccines are prepared to protect against that years virus strain. Having the flu can make it easier to get bacterial pneumonia.
  • 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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    Keep The Home Mould Free And Clean

    A seniors home should be clean in all aspects. Ventilation is also very important. Ensure there is adequate fresh air circulating within the home. A senior person may require some extra help with cleaning their homes regularly due to differences in capabilities that they may be having.

    Any mildew, mould, or musty smell needs remedying after careful examination. Stay alert for any changes that could come suddenly. Also, look out for the onset of confusion and fatigue in an elderly person. If an older person gets sick, get them medical care as early as possible and follow up so that you can confirm that the recovery is normal.

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    Resulting From Other Illnesses

    Flu is not always the cause of pneumonia, but there is still some truth to that idea generally speaking. Sometimes flu and pneumonia can occur simultaneously. This is what is called secondary bacterial pneumonia.

    There are viral causes too. Where there is a high fluid buildup in the chest or sinuses, viral pneumonia can occur within ones lungs. Also, pneumonia can piggyback other diseases and it can be very severe to the extent of causing death than it is on its own.

    This only tells you there are so many ways that pneumonia can happen, but the issue cannot be addressed in just one single way.

    Key Points About Pneumonia

    Elderly Pneumonia Treatment and Prevention â A Place for Mom
    • Pneumonia is an infection of one or both of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi.

    • There are more than 30 different causes of pneumonia, and theyre grouped by the cause. The main types of pneumonia are bacterial, viral, and mycoplasma pneumonia.

    • A cough that produces green, yellow, or bloody mucus is the most common symptom of pneumonia. Other symptoms include fever, shaking chills, shortness of breath, low energy, and extreme tiredness.

    • Pneumonia can often be diagnosed with a thorough history and physical exam. Tests used to look at the lungs, blood tests, and tests done on the sputum you cough up may also be used.

    • Treatment depends on the type of pneumonia you have. Antibiotics are used for bacterial pneumonia. It may also speed recovery from mycoplasma pneumonia and some special cases. Most viral pneumonias dont have a specific treatment and just get better on their own. Other treatment may include a healthy diet, more fluids, rest, oxygen therapy, and medicine for pain, cough, and fever control.

    • Most people with pneumonia respond well to treatment, but pneumonia can cause serious lung and infection problems. It can even be deadly.

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    Pneumonia Dangerous For Seniors

    It can be a very serious condition that can take hold in young, healthy people, but is a greater threat to seniors, babies and people with other diseases or impaired immune systems.

    Their natural ability to fight back isnt strong enough, and sometimes pneumonia can be fatal. Smokers, too, are at greater risk because smoking damages your bodys defenses against bacteria and viruses.

    Weve laid out the facts on the most common causes of pneumonia and the signs to look for. If you or a loved one catches the infection, you want to take action and know that you may need to see your doctor for a course of antibiotics.

    When Can I Return To Work School And Regular Activities If I Have Pneumonia

    You typically can resume your normal activities if your symptoms are gone, mild or improving and you do not have new or worsening:

    • Shortness of breath or tiredness
    • Chest pain
    • Mucus, fever or cough

    If you are generally healthy, most people feel well enough to return to previous activities in about a week. However, it may take about a month to feel totally back to normal.

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    Follow Your Treatment Plan

    It is important that you take all your medicines as your doctor prescribes. If you are using antibiotics, continue to take the medicine until it is all gone. You may start to feel better before you finish the medicine, but you should continue to take it. If you stop too soon, the bacterial infection and your pneumonia may come back. It may also become resistant to the antibiotic, making treatment more difficult.

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    How To Prevent Pneumonia In Elderly Loved Ones

    Elderly and Pneumonia

    The key to preventing complications like sepsis is preventing infections like pneumonia from occurring in the first place. Since influenza predisposes elderly people to pneumonia, the number of cases tends to spike during flu season. Dr. Schaffner recommends that all people over age 65 get an annual flu shot as well as a pneumococcal vaccine. This one-time shot protects against the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria.

    Caregivers and other family members should also be vaccinated to avoid getting sick themselves and passing the illness to their loved ones. The CDC recommends that anyone who has prolonged contact with an elderly person should get vaccinated, urges Dr. Schaffner.

    In addition to staying current with vaccines, a healthy lifestyle plays a critical role in preventing pneumonia. Quitting smoking, practicing good oral hygiene, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight through a nutritious diet can all help boost a seniors immune system and stave off diseases. Of course, good hand-washing habits are another strong defense.

    It is important for family caregivers to educate themselves on pneumonia and other medical conditions that commonly affect seniors. This information will give you added peace of mind that you are doing as much as you can to keep your loved one healthy.

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    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.

    What Can I Do At Home To Feel Better

    In addition to taking any antibiotics and/or medicine your doctor prescribes, you should also:

    • Get lots of rest. Rest will help your body fight the infection.
    • Drink plenty of fluids. Fluids will keep you hydrated. They can help loosen the mucus in your lungs. Try water, warm tea, and clear soups.
    • Stop smoking if you smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. Smoke can make your symptoms worse. Smoking also increases your risk of developing pneumonia and other lung problems in the future. You should also avoid lit fireplaces or other areas where the air may not be clean.
    • Stay home from school or work until your symptoms go away. This usually means waiting until your fever breaks and you arent coughing up mucus. Ask your doctor when its okay for you to return to school or work.
    • Use a cool-mist humidifier or take a warm bath. This will help clear your lungs and make it easier for you to breathe.

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    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.

    More Severe Cases May Also Cause:

    The Cold &  Flu Season: Early Signs of Pneumonia in Elderly
    • quick breathing
    • rapid heartbeat
    • nausea and vomiting

    Some people get a sharp pain in their chest when they breathe in and out. This may be because the thin lining between the lung and ribcage, called the pleura, is infected and inflamed. This inflammation, called pleurisy, stops your lungs moving smoothly as you breathe.

    The symptoms of pneumonia are often very similar to those of other chest infections, such as bronchitis, COPD flare-ups or bronchiectasis flare-ups. To get a proper diagnosis youll need to visit your GP.

    If you feel unwell with these symptoms, see your GP or call 111. If you have chest pain, a rapid heartbeat, quick breathing, shivers or confusion, get urgent advice from your GP or call 999. Take extra care if youre over 65.

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    Why Seniors Are More Susceptible To Pneumonia

    According to the American Thoracic Society, approximately 1 million adults seek hospital care for pneumonia each year. Young, healthy people usually make a full recovery, but pneumonia in the elderly can be very seriouseven deadly. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , ranks pneumonia as one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States. Despite the prevalence of this disease, many seniors and their caregivers don’t know all the facts about pneumonia.

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