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.
How Is Aspiration Pneumonia Diagnosed
Generally, the first thing your provider will do in any situation is take a complete medical history and perform a physical examination. Theyll ask you about your current signs and symptoms. One thing that is a little tricky about aspiration pneumonia is that often no one actually sees you breathe in an object or food or saliva.
In addition to taking note of your symptoms, your provider will order tests such as:
- Chest X-ray and/or a computed tomography scan. In cases of aspiration pneumonia, inflammation is often seen at the bottom of your lungs.
How To Avoid Any Type Of Pneumonia
Good hygiene and health practices will help you from contracting most infections, Turner says.
You probably already know the drill here: Wash your hands frequently, avoid sneezers and their trail of tissues, and clean frequently touched surfaceselevator buttons, handles, doorknobswhere germs can linger.
And keep your immune system strong with a nutritious diet, lots of water, and adequate sleep, Turner adds.
Vaccines are also a powerful preventive measure. Get the flu vaccine annuallyinfluenza on its own is unpleasant, but it can also lead to pneumonia. Get the pneumococcal vaccine if you are 65 years or older, Turner advises the vaccine, which protects against bacterial pneumonia, is also recommended for cigarette smokers and younger people with certain medical conditions.
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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
What Are The Main Differences Between Bacterial And Viral Pneumonia
Common symptoms of pneumonia include3
- difficulty breathing
- increased breathing rate
When a patient presents with these symptoms, the next step is to examine the lungs with a stethoscope. With pneumonia, decreased breath sounds, wheezing, or crackles on listening to the lungs, are all indications that can help point towards a diagnosis. The next step is to order a radiograph or X-ray if pneumonia is suspected.
The radiograph still remains the reference standard for a medical diagnosis of pneumonia, and also helps to differentiate between bacterial and viral pneumonia. However, a combination of clinical symptoms, exam findings, and imaging is the best way to uncover the most likely culprit.3,4
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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.
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.
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Be Aware Of Your General Health
- Since pneumonia often follows respiratory infections, be aware of any symptoms that linger more than a few days.
- Good health habitsa healthy diet, rest, regular exercise, etc.help you from getting sick from viruses and respiratory illnesses. They also help promote fast recovery when you do get a cold, the flu or other respiratory illness.
If you have children, talk to their doctor about:
- Hib vaccine, which prevents pneumonia in children from Haemophilus influenza type b
- A drug called Synagis , which is given to some children younger than 24 months to prevent pneumonia caused by respiratory syncytial virus .
If you have cancer or HIV, talk to your doctor about additional ways to prevent pneumonia and other infections.
Who Is Most Likely To Get Aspiration Pneumonia
Aspiration pneumonia is more common among people who:
- Have had general anesthesia or dental procedures.
- Have trouble coughing or trouble swallowing. Trouble swallowing is known as dysphagia. These issues are more common among people with brain injury or nervous system disorders like Parkinsons disease or multiple sclerosis.
- Have been drinking or taking drugs to excess.
- Are older . Aspiration pneumonia is more common among people who live in nursing homes.
- Have weak immune systems due to some illness, or underdeveloped immune systems due to being very young .
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How Your Doctor Chooses
Your doctor will select the right antibiotic for you based on multiple factors, including:
- Your age: People 65 and older have a greater risk of serious complications from pneumonia infections.
- Your health history: A history of smoking, lung diseases, or other conditions may influence a person’s ability to fight off infections.
- The exact infection you have: Your doctor may take a sample and test it for bacteria. They can then pick an antibiotic based on your specific infection.
- Your previous experiences with antibiotics: Make sure to tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications, had bad reactions to antibiotics in the past, or have developed an antibacterial-resistant infection.
- The antibiotic sensitivity of the bacteria: The lab will test the bacteria causing your pneumonia to determine which antibiotics it is sensitive or resistant to.
Doctors typically choose your antibiotics prescription based on what medicines they think will be most effective and cause the fewest side effects.
How Is Walking Pneumonia Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, how long youve had them and if any other family members or people you regularly interact with are also ill with similar symptoms. He or she will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope to check for abnormal breath sounds. Your doctor may order chest X-rays to see if there is an infection in your lungs. Your blood or mucus might be tested to determine if your pneumonia is caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae, another bacteria, virus or fungus.
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What Is The Recovery Time For Covid Pneumonia
Dr. Lee: Regardless of what causes it, regaining strength after pneumonia can take quite a long time from several weeks to many months.
During COVID pneumonia recovery, your body first has to repair the damage caused to the lungs then it has to deal with clearing leftover fluid and debris and, finally, scarring until the tissue is fully healed over all of which come with unpleasant symptoms.
For the 15% of infected individuals who develop moderate to severe COVID-19 and are admitted to the hospital for a few days and require oxygen, the average recovery time ranges between three to six weeks.
For the 5% who develop severe or critical illness, recovery can take much longer.
Everyone’s recovery is unique and depends on:
- Your overall health
- Whether you have preexisting conditions
- The severity of your infection
If you are recovering from COVID pneumonia and experiencing persistent problems, I recommend seeing your doctor for a follow-up evaluation. If your recovery is prolonged, he or she may recommend a specialized program, such as pulmonary rehabilitation, to help get you back on track.
In some cases, patients will have lingering symptoms after the initial COVID-19 infection, often called post-COVID syndrome. These “long haulers” can have variety of problems, since the virus can attack not only the lungs, but also the heart, kidneys and brain. Your doctor can also help you manage these lingering symptoms.
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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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
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
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Who Is Most At Risk For Getting Valley Fever
Anyone who breathes in the fungus can become infected, but Valley fever is most common in adults over age 60. People who have recently traveled or moved to an area where the fungus lives may be more likely to get the infection. Valley fever is also more likely to occur in certain high-risk individuals, including people who:
- Have weakened immune systems, which can be caused by certain medications or diseases like HIV/AIDS
- Belong to certain ethnic groups, including African-Americans and Filipinos
- Work at jobs that expose them to soil dust
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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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:
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.
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Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
An interprofessional team of healthcare workers manages viral pneumonia. While physicians may treat the infection, the role of the nurse and pharmacist are vital for prevention. The patient should be urged to get the annual influenza vaccine, as this can lower the morbidity and mortality. Pharmacists review prescriptions for dose and interactions and educate patients about side effects and the importance of compliance. All patients should be urged to quit smoking and abstain from alcohol. Further, patients should be educated about hand and personal hygiene to prevent transmission of the virus to others. Patients who are immunocompromised should be educated about the symptoms of pneumonia and when to seek medical care. Finally, patients should be urged to lead a healthy lifestyle, eat healthily, and exercise regularly. Close communication between the interprofessional team is essential if one wants to improve outcomes.
How Is Pneumonia Treated
When you get a pneumonia diagnosis, your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan. Treatment for pneumonia depends on the type of pneumonia you have, how sick you are feeling, your age, and whether you have other health conditions. The goals of treatment are to cure the infection and prevent complications. It is important to follow your treatment plan carefully until you are fully recovered.
Take any medications as prescribed by your doctor. If your pneumonia is caused by bacteria, you will be given an antibiotic. It is important to take all the antibiotic until it is gone, even though you will probably start to feel better in a couple of days. If you stop, you risk having the infection come back, and you increase the chances that the germs will be resistant to treatment in the future.
Typical antibiotics do not work against viruses. If you have viral pneumonia, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication to treat it. Sometimes, though, symptom management and rest are all that is needed.
Most people can manage their symptoms such as fever and cough at home by following these steps:
If your pneumonia is so severe that you are treated in the hospital, you may be given intravenous fluids and antibiotics, as well as oxygen therapy, and possibly other breathing treatments.
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