Pneumonia Warning Signs And Symptoms
Pneumonia can affect just about anyone, from infants and children to adults and the elderly. The pulmonary condition causes inflammation of the air sacs in the lungs.Infection from viruses and bacteria, certain drugs, and chemicals that irritate the lungs are all potential causes. Depending on the cause, pneumonia can be treated effectively, though quick treatment has the best results.Anyone experiencing multiple symptoms of pneumonia should seek medical advice. Due to the similarity of symptoms, it can be difficult to differentiate between pneumonia and COVID-19, so receiving a correct diagnosis is essential.
What Are The Symptoms Of Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that causes cough, fever andtrouble breathing, among other symptoms. Although you may think it is somethingyou could never get, pneumonia is one of the leading causes of hospitalizations inAmerica. Approximately one million American adults seek hospital care everyyear due to pneumonia. Prompt treatment of pneumonia can mean the differencebetween requiring hospitalization or recovering at home.
This FAQ will help you recognize the signs and symptoms of pneumonia,available treatment options and ways to keep yourself and others healthy.
What Are The Early Symptoms Of Aspiration Pneumonia’
- You may feel generally unwell, with a high temperature , headache, sickness and muscle aches. You might go off your food and lose a little bit of weight.
- A cough is the key feature, sometimes with yellow or green phlegm.
- Your breathing rate and pulse may become rapid.
- Other symptoms you may notice include breathlessness and chest pain which is worse when you breathe in deeply.
- A doctor listening to your chest with a stethoscope might hear that your breathing sounds muffled and that the covering of your lungs makes a sound when you breathe in and out .
- If your chest wall is tapped, the doctor may find an area of dullness.
- Untreated, pneumonia can make you feel very ill. The oxygen you breathe in may have difficulty getting to parts of your body distant from your lungs and may develop a blue tinge.
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How Can Aspiration Pneumonia Be Prevented
If you are bed-bound and at risk of aspiration, keeping the head end of the bed raised at an angle of 30Â° may help.
If you have swallowing difficulties, reduced sensitivity to irritants at the back of your throat, or some other condition that makes you prone to aspiration, feeding through a nasogastric tube may reduce the risk.
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:,
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Can I Prevent Pneumonia
The routine vaccinations that most people receive as kids help prevent certain types of pneumonia and other infections. If you have a chronic illness, such as sickle cell disease, you may have received extra vaccinations and disease-preventing antibiotics to help prevent pneumonia and other infections caused by bacteria.
People should get a pneumococcal vaccination if they have diseases that affect their immune system , are 65 years or older, or are in other high-risk groups. Depending on the bugs that are likely to affect them, these people also may get antibiotics to prevent pneumonia, as well as antiviral medicine to prevent or lessen the effects of viral pneumonia.
Doctors recommend that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu shot. That’s because someone with the flu could then come down with pneumonia. Call your doctor’s office or check your local health department to see when these vaccines are available.
Because pneumonia is often caused by germs, a good way to prevent it is to keep your distance from anyone you know who has pneumonia or other respiratory infections. Use separate drinking glasses and eating utensils wash your hands often with warm, soapy water and avoid touching used tissues and paper towels.
You also can stay strong and help avoid some of the illnesses that might lead to pneumonia by eating as healthily as possible, getting a minimum of 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night, and not smoking.
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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Who Should Get Pneumococcal Vaccines
CDC recommends pneumococcal vaccination for all children younger than 2 years old and all adults 65 years or older. In certain situations, older children and other adults should also get pneumococcal vaccines. Below is more information about who should and should not get each type of pneumococcal vaccine.
Talk to your or your childs doctor about what is best for your specific situation.
Risk Factors For Hospital
Pneumonia that is contracted in the hospital is called hospital-acquired, or nosocomial, pneumonia. It is the most common hospital-acquired infection in the intensive care unit . It affects an estimated 5 to 10 of every 1,000 hospitalized patients every year. More than half of these cases may be due to strains of bacteria that have developed resistance to antibiotics. In fact, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and multidrug-resistant P aeruginosa are leading causes of death from hospital-acquired pneumonia. Those at highest risk are:
- Older people and the very young.
- People with long-term or severe medical conditions, such as lung problems, heart disease, nervous system disorders, and cancer.
- People who have had surgery, particularly people over age 80 years. Among the surgical procedures that pose a particular risk are removal of the spleen , abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, or operations that impair coughing.
- People who have been in the ICU. This is particularly true for newborns or patients on breathing machines . People who lie flat on their backs are at particular risk for aspiration pneumonia. Raising the person up may reduce this risk.
- People who have received sedation. Hospital patients who receive sedatives also have a higher risk of developing nosocomial pneumonia.
- People who received antibiotics within the previous 90 days.
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Choosing The Right Antibiotic
Dozens of antibiotics are available for treating pneumonia, but selecting the best drug is sometimes difficult. People with pneumonia need an antibiotic that is effective against the organism causing the disease. When the organism is unknown, “empiric therapy” is given, meaning the doctor chooses which antibiotic is likely to work based on factors such as the person’s age, health, and severity of the illness.
In adults, the choice of antibiotic therapy depends on the severity of infection and site of care. In all cases, the more quickly antibiotic therapy is started once the diagnosis is made, the better the outcomes. In most cases, the organism causing the pneumonia will not be known before antibiotic therapy is started, so the doctor must choose an antibiotic regimen based on history and symptoms. Later, the therapy may be altered when more information becomes available. To determine the appropriate antibiotic, the doctor must first answer a number of questions:
Once an antibiotic has been chosen, there are still difficulties:
- Individuals respond differently to the same antibiotic, depending on their age, health, size, and other factors.
- People can be allergic to certain antibiotics, thus requiring alternatives.
- People may have strains of bacteria that are resistant to certain antibiotics.
Is There A Vaccine For Pneumonia
There isnt a vaccine for all types of pneumonia, but 2 vaccines are available. These help prevent pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria. The first is recommended for all children younger than 5 years of age. The second is recommended for anyone age 2 or older who is at increased risk for pneumonia. Getting the pneumonia vaccine is especially important if you:
- Are 65 years of age or older.
- Have certain chronic conditions, such as asthma, lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, sickle cell disease, or cirrhosis.
- Have a weakened immune system because of HIV/AIDS, kidney failure, a damaged or removed spleen, a recent organ transplant, or receiving chemotherapy.
- Have cochlear implants .
The pneumococcal vaccines cant prevent all cases of pneumonia. But they can make it less likely that people who are at risk will experience the severe, and possibly life-threatening, complications of pneumonia.
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Treatment Of Viral Infections
There are not as many choices for treating viral pneumonia. Oseltamivir , zanamivir , and peramivir have been the recommended drugs for influenza A or B infections, but some strains of influenza A are resistant to them. Generally, the use of these drugs is only recommended if they can be started in the first 48 hours of symptoms. Taken early, these medications may be effective in reducing the severity and duration of illness. However, treatment initiated even after 48 hours may benefit children with severe disease.
Intravenous immunoglobulins may be used in immunodeficient children who develop some viral pneumonias, as they have been shown to improve outcomes.
People with viral pneumonias are at risk for what are called “superinfections,” which generally refers to a secondary bacterial infection, usually caused by S pneumoniae, S aureus, or H influenzae. Doctors most commonly recommend treatment with amoxicillin-clavulanate, cefpodoxime, ceftriaxone, cefuroxime, or a newer fluoroquinolone if these secondary infections occur.
People with pneumonia caused by varicella-zoster and herpes simplex viruses are usually admitted to the hospital and treated with intravenous acyclovir for 7 days.
No antiviral drugs have been proven effective yet in adults with RSV, parainfluenza virus, adenovirus, metapneumovirus, coronaviruses, or hantavirus. Treatment is largely supportive, with people receiving oxygen and ventilator therapy as needed.
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
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Frequently Asked Questions: Pneumonia Or Cold
What does it feel like when you have pneumonia?
If you have had a cold and suddenly feel really and truly sick, you may wonder, What does pneumonia feel like? Generally speaking, pneumonia feels pretty awful, and the signs and symptoms of pneumonia usually tell you that something is definitely wrong. You will experience pain when you breathe or cough, fever and chills, significant fatigue and shortness of breath. Even if you have mild or walking pneumonia, you will still feel pretty terrible. So, if you have a cold that takes a turn for the worse, see your doctor to get checked for pneumonia.
When should I call a doctor if I think it is pneumonia?If you or a loved one has signs of pneumonia, make an appointment to see your doctor. Pneumonia can get worse quickly, and you will want to know what kind of pneumonia you have so you can treat it properly. If you or a loved one experience trouble breathing, have severe chest pain, a high fever or worsening symptoms, seek medical attention right away. If you or a loved one is in a high risk population, do not hesitate to seek medical attention, as pneumonia can develop into a life-threatening condition.
2 WebMD. What is pneumonia? March 17, 2011.
Problems That Could Happen After Getting Any Injected Vaccine
- People sometimes faint after a medical procedure, including vaccination. Sitting or lying down for about 15 minutes can help prevent fainting and injuries caused by a fall. Tell your doctor if you or your child:
- Feel dizzy
- Have vision changes
- Have ringing in the ears
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Signs Of Walking Pneumonia
Walking pneumonia or atypical pneumonia is a bacterial infection that mostly occurs in the lower, but may also affect the upper, respiratory tract. The condition is less severe than other types of pneumonia, and the symptoms are treatable with rest and over-the-counter medications. Many people confuse walking pneumonia with the common flu because they have nearly identical symptoms, and though the former often lasts longer, it generally resolves within a few weeks at most. Usually, symptoms start to develop within two weeks of exposure, though in some cases, the bacteria can incubate for up to a month.
What Increases Your Risk Factors For Walking Pneumonia
Like pneumonia, the risk for developing walking pneumonia is higher if you are:
- over age of 65 years old
- 2 years old or younger
Since walking pneumonia tends to be mild, some people with the illness choose not to get a formal diagnosis. But other serious diseases can cause symptoms that look like walking pneumonia. If symptoms continue to worsen after a few days, consider checking in with a healthcare professional for a diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment for walking pneumonia depends on whats causing the disease. Walking pneumonia from bacteria can be treated with antibiotics. A healthcare professional may use antiviral medications to treat cases caused by viruses.
For very mild cases of walking pneumonia, treatment may simply involve managing symptoms at home and resting.
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What Is Viral Pneumonia
Viruses are responsible for about one-third of all pneumonias, and they’re the most common cause of pneumonia in children younger than age 5.
Viral pneumonias tend to clear up in about one to three weeks, but they can increase your risk for bacterial pneumonia.
Viral pneumonia is usually less serious than bacterial pneumonia.
At first, the symptoms of viral pneumonia may be similar to symptoms often associated with the flu, except you may experience a dry cough that does not produce phlegm. You may also develop a fever and headache.
But within a couple of days, these symptoms typically get worse.
Adults with viral pneumonia can also expect to develop:
- Sore throat
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle pain
The flu virus is the most common cause of viral pneumonia in adults, which tends to be more serious in people with heart or lung disease, senior citizens, and pregnant women.
Not only can influenza cause pneumonia, it can also predispose people to bacterial pneumonia yet another good reason to get the yearly flu shot.
Respiratory syncytial virus pneumonia is usually a mild infection that clears up in about a week or two. It can be more severe and is more common in young children and older adults. In fact, RSV is the most common cause of pneumonia in children younger than 12 months.
How Soon After Treatment For Pneumonia Will I Begin To Feel Better
How soon you will feel better depends on several factors, including:
- Your age
- The cause of your pneumonia
- The severity of your pneumonia
- If you have other at-risk conditions
If you are generally healthy, most symptoms of bacterial pneumonia usually begin to improve within 24 to 48 hours after starting treatment. Symptoms of viral pneumonia usually begin to improve within a few days after starting treatment. A cough can last for several weeks. Most people report being tired for about a month after contracting pneumonia.
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Besides Vaccination What Else Can I Do To Prevent Bacterial And Viral Pneumonia
Receiving all recommended vaccinations is one of the best ways to prevent pneumonia. Additionally, there are several other ways to prevent pneumonia, including:
- Quitting smoking, and avoiding secondhand smoke. Smoking damages your lungs.
- Washing your hands before eating, before handling food, after using the restroom, and after being outside. If soap is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoiding being around people who are sick. Ask them to visit when they are feeling better.
- Not touching or sharing objects that are shared with others. Germs can be transferred from object to you if you touch your nose or mouth without washing or sanitizing your hands first.
- Eating a healthy diet, exercise, and get enough rest. Healthy habits keep your immune system strong.
- Getting treated for any other infections or health conditions you may have. These conditions could weaken your immune system, which could increase your chance of infections.
- Avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol.