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.
What To Think About
In most cases pneumonia is a short-term, treatable illness. But frequent bouts of pneumonia can be a serious complication of a long-term illness, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease . If you have a severe long-term illness, it may be hard to treat your pneumonia, or you may choose not to treat it. You and your doctor should discuss this. This discussion may include information about how to create an advance care plan.
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There are a number of steps you can take to help prevent getting pneumonia.
- Stop smoking. You’re more likely to get pneumonia if you smoke.
- Avoid people who have infections that sometimes lead to pneumonia.
- Stay away from people who have colds, the flu, or other respiratory tract infections.
- If you haven’t had measles or chickenpox or if you didn’t get vaccines against these diseases, avoid people who have them.
What Are The Symptoms
Symptoms of pneumonia may include:
- Cough. You will likely cough up mucus from your lungs. Mucus may be rusty or green or tinged with blood.
- Fever, chills, and sweating.
- Feeling very tired or very weak.
When you have less severe symptoms, your doctor may call this “walking pneumonia.”
Older adults may have different, fewer, or milder symptoms. They may not have a fever. Or they may have a cough but not bring up mucus. The main sign of pneumonia in older adults may be a change in how well they think. Confusion or delirium is common. Or, if they already have a lung disease, that disease may get worse.
Symptoms caused by viruses are the same as those caused by bacteria. But they may come on slowly and often are not as obvious or as bad.
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What Increases Your Risk
You are more likely to get pneumonia if you:
- Smoke. Cigarette smoking is a strong risk factor for pneumonia in healthy young people.
- Have another medical condition, especially lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma.
- Are younger than 1 year of age or older than 65.
- Have an impaired immune system.
- Take medicine called a proton pump inhibitor that reduces the amount of stomach acid.footnote 3, footnote 4
- Drink excessive amounts of alcohol.
- Recently had a cold or the flu.
You are more likely to have complications of pneumonia and need to go to the hospital if you:
- Are older than 65.
- Have some other illness , or have gone to the hospital for a medical problem within the last 3 months.
- Have had your spleen removed or do not have a working spleen .
- Have an alcohol use problem.
- Have a weak immune system.
- Reside in a place where people live close together, such as a university dorm or nursing home.
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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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.
What Is Aspiration Pneumonia
Aspiration pneumonia is pneumonia that is caused by something other than air being inhaled into your respiratory tract. These non-air substances can be food, liquid, saliva, stomach contents, toxins or even a small foreign object.
Theres also a condition called aspiration pneumonitis which is caused by the same type of thing happening but there is only inflammation and irritation, not infection. Its difficult to tell the two conditions apart.
Other names for aspiration pneumonia include anaerobic pneumonia, necrotizing pneumonia and aspiration of vomitus.
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When Should You See A Doctor
If you have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease you should ask your doctor for advice. They may have given you recommendations about increasing your inhaler medication or taking a ‘rescue pack’ of antibiotics and steroid tablets at the first sign of an infection. If not, speak with them for advice if you develop symptoms of a chest infection.
There are a number of symptoms that mean you should see a GP even if you do not have any other lung problems. They include:
- If a fever, wheezing or headache becomes worse or severe.
- If you develop fast breathing, shortness of breath, or chest pains.
- If you cough up blood or if your phlegm becomes dark or rusty-coloured.
- If you become drowsy or confused.
- If a cough lasts for longer than 3-4 weeks.
- If you have repeated bouts of acute bronchitis.
- If any other symptom develops that you are concerned about.
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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What Is Walking Pneumonia
Walking pneumonia is a mild case of pneumonia. It is often caused by a virus or the mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria. When you have walking pneumonia, your symptoms may not be as severe or last as long as someone who has a more serious case of pneumonia. You probably wont need bed rest or to stay in the hospital when you have walking pneumonia.
How Are Pneumonia Complications Treated
Complications may be more common in pneumonia that starts after stomach contents are inhaled into the lungs, a type of condition called aspiration pneumonia.
Another dangerous variation is necrotizing pneumonia, a bacterial pneumonia that can result from a large number of pathogens, including staphylococcus.
Complicated pneumonias such as these may result in respiratory failure, which requires assisted breathing with a machine called a ventilator.
In rare but severe cases, a pocket of pus called a lung abscess can form inside or around the lung due to causes that include aspiration and bacterial or fungal infections.
If you have complicated pneumonia, you may need to undergo a procedure to drain the lung or remove diseased lung tissue. Your doctor may refer to this procedure as “lung scraping.”
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Pneumonia In The Elderly
Elderly patients with pneumonia may not exhibit typical symptoms or physical examination findings seen in younger adults, such as pleuritic chest pain, cough, fever, and leukocytosis. Signs and symptoms more frequently seen in older adults include falls, decreased appetite, or functional impairment. A change in mental status should prompt evaluation for an infectious cause., As with any adult, risk factors for atypical or drug-resistant pathogens should guide treatment. Elderly patients with history of stroke or known dysphagia are at an increased risk for aspiration pneumonia. Residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities are at an increased risk for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or multidrug-resistant pathogens.
What Is Bacterial Pneumonia
Pneumonia is a serious lung disease caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi. It is the cause of the highest number of deaths related to childhood infections.
This is a severe respiratory infection that develops rapidly and affects the small air sacs in the lungs , causing them to fill with pus and fluid.
The function of the alveoli is to exchange oxygen absorbed by the lungs, transfer it into the bloodstream, and circulate it throughout the body. When fluid enters the lungs, it interferes with this process, resulting in low oxygen levels in the body, making breathing difficult .
This article will discuss the symptoms, causes, risk factors, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, complications, and prognosis of bacterial pneumonia.
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What Are The Best Antibiotics For Pneumonia
When a person contracts pneumonia, the air sacs in one or both lungs, called alveoli, fill with pus or fluid.
This fluid can make it difficult to breathe. While pneumonia can be mild, it can also cause severe illness, especially in young children, older adults, and those with other medical problems.
In 2019, more than 40,000 Americans died of pneumonia.
Pneumonia happnes when a virus or bacteria thats living in your bodyin your nose, sinuses, or mouth, for examplespreads into your lungs.
You may also directly breathe the virus or bacteria into your lungs, triggering pneumonia.
Pneumonia is typically caused by viruses or bacteria.
Antibiotics wont help with viral pneumonia.
Bacterial pneumonia is more common, and usually more severe, and can sometimes occur secondary to a viral infection.
If your doctor suspects that you have bacterial pneumonia, they will treat you with antibiotics.
In this article, Ill explain how pneumonia is diagnosed, and when and how its treated with antibiotics.
Ill also talk about when pneumonia requires hospitalization.
Ill also tell you when you should talk to your doctor to see if a persistent cough, shortness of breath, or other upper respiratory symptoms could be pneumonia.
How Can You Prevent Pneumonia
Experts recommend immunization for children and adults. Children get the pneumococcal vaccine as part of their routine shots. If you are 65 or older or you have a long-term health problem, it’s a good idea to get a pneumococcal vaccine. It may not keep you from getting pneumonia. But if you do get pneumonia, you probably won’t be as sick. You can also get an influenza vaccine to prevent the flu, because sometimes people get pneumonia after having the flu.
You can also lower your chances of getting pneumonia by staying away from people who have the flu, respiratory symptoms, or chickenpox. You may get pneumonia after you have one of these illnesses. Wash your hands often. This helps prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria that may cause 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.
Inpatient Vs Outpatient Care
The estimated direct cost of a single CAP hospitalization ranges from $3,000 to $13,000.6 Patients admitted to the hospital are at risk of hospital-acquired complications, such as thromboembolic events, superinfections , and catheter-associated urinary tract infections. Mortality and severity prediction scores have been designed to identify patients with CAP who can be treated safely as outpatients. The PSI is the most extensively validated prediction score, but it is limited by its complexity and failure to always recognize the most severely ill patients, especially those without comorbid illness.22
Table 5 summarizes the CURB-65 , a prediction score developed by the British Thoracic Society.1 It is simpler than the PSI but does not specifically account for decompensated chronic illness that occurs with CAP. CURB-65 has been shown to predict death from CAP in hospital and outpatient settings.23
More recently, SMART-COP was created to predict which patients will require intensive respiratory or vasopressor support .24 A SMART-COP score of 3 or more points identifies 92 percent of those who will receive intensive respiratory or vasopressor support, whereas sensitivities for PSI and CURB-65 are 74 and 39 percent, respectively.24 Patients admitted to the intensive care unit with CAP are more likely to be men who have congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.25
SMART-COP Score to Predict Need for IRVS in Patients with Community-Acquired Pneumonia
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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.
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.
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Outpatient Vs Inpatient Treatment
Choosing between outpatient and inpatient treatment is a crucial decision because of the possible risk of death.9,15,16 This decision not only influences diagnostic testing and medication choices, it can have a psychological impact on patients and their families. On average, the estimated cost for inpatient care of patients with CAP is $7,500. Outpatient care can cost as little as $150 to $350.1719 Hospitalization of a patient should depend on patient age, comorbidities, and the severity of the presenting disease.9,20
Physicians tend to overestimate a patients risk of death14 therefore, many low-risk patients who could be safely treated as out-patients are admitted for more costly inpatient care. The Pneumonia Severity Index was developed to assist physicians in identifying patients at a higher risk of complications and who are more likely to benefit from hospitalization.9,15,16 Investigators developed a risk model based on a prospective cohort study16 of 2,287 patients with CAP in Pittsburgh, Boston, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. By using the model, the authors found that 26 to 31 percent of the hospitalized patients were good outpatient candidates, and an additional 13 to 19 percent only needed brief hospital observation. They validated this model using data17 from more than 50,000 patients with CAP in 275 U.S. and Canadian hospitals.1517,21,22
Information from reference 15.