Complications Of Pneumonia In Elderly Adults
Older adults are at risk for complications of pneumonia, including:
- Bacteremia, a potentially fatal infection that enters the bloodstream from the lungs and can spread to other organs
- Pleurisy, an inflammation of the membrane that covers the lungs . Pleurisy may require surgery or drainage of the infected fluid in the lungs
- Lung abscess, a pus-filled cavity that can develop in the infected lung area
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome , which occurs when pneumonia severely injures the lungs, leading to respiratory failure. ARDS may require the use of a mechanical ventilator to help with breathing
How Is Pneumonia Diagnosed
Sometimes pneumonia can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are so variable, and are often very similar to those seen in a cold or influenza. To diagnose pneumonia, and to try to identify the germ that is causing the illness, your doctor will ask questions about your medical history, do a physical exam, and run some tests.
Your doctor will ask you questions about your signs and symptoms, and how and when they began. To help figure out if your infection is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, you may be asked some questions about possible exposures, such as:
- Any recent travel
- Exposure to other sick people at home, work or school
- Whether you have recently had another illness
Your doctor will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope. If you have pneumonia, your lungs may make crackling, bubbling, and rumbling sounds when you inhale.
If your doctor suspects you may have pneumonia, they will probably recommend some tests to confirm the diagnosis and learn more about your infection. These may include:
- Blood tests to confirm the infection and to try to identify the germ that is causing your illness.
- Chest X-ray to look for the location and extent of inflammation in your lungs.
- Pulse oximetry to measure the oxygen level in your blood. Pneumonia can prevent your lungs from moving enough oxygen into your bloodstream.
- Sputum test on a sample of mucus taken after a deep cough, to look for the source of the infection.
Questions About Your Symptoms
Bacterial pneumonia, which is the most common form, tends to be more serious than other types of pneumonia, with symptoms that require medical care. The symptoms of bacterial pneumonia can develop gradually or suddenly. Fever may rise as high as a dangerous 105 degrees F, with profuse sweating and rapidly increased breathing and pulse rate. Lips and nailbeds may have a bluish color due to lack of oxygen in the blood. A patient’s mental state may be confused or delirious.
The symptoms of viral pneumonia usually develop over a period of several days. Early symptoms are similar to influenza symptoms: fever, a dry cough, headache, muscle pain, and weakness. Within a day or two, the symptoms typically get worse, with increasing cough, shortness of breath and muscle pain. There may be a high fever and there may be blueness of the lips.
Symptoms may vary in certain populations. Newborns and infants may not show any signs of the infection. Or, they may vomit, have a fever and cough, or appear restless, sick, or tired and without energy. Older adults and people who have serious illnesses or weak immune systems may have fewer and milder symptoms. They may even have a lower than normal temperature. Older adults who have pneumonia sometimes have sudden changes in mental awareness. For individuals that already have a chronic lung disease, those symptoms may worsen.
When to call a doctor
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What Causes Bacterial Pneumonia
Doctors often refer to typical and atypical pneumonias, based on the signs and symptoms of the condition. This can help to predict the type of bacteria causing the pneumonia, the duration of the illness, and the optimal treatment method.
Typical pneumonia comes on very quickly.
- Typical pneumonia usually results in a high fever and shaking chills.
- Typical pneumonia usually leads to the production of yellow or brown sputum when coughing.
- There may be chest pain, which is usually worse with breathing or coughing. The chest also may be sore when it is touched or pressed.
- Typical pneumonia can cause shortness of breath, especially if the person has any chronic lung conditions such as asthma or emphysema.
- Because chest pain also can be a sign of other serious medical conditions, do not try to self-diagnose.
- Older people can have confusion or a change in their mental abilities as a sign of pneumonia or other infection.
Atypical pneumonia has a gradual onset.
- It is often referred to as “walking pneumonia.”
- Sometimes it follows another illness in the days to weeks before the pneumonia.
- The fever is usually lower, and shaking chills are less likely.
Key Points About Pneumonia
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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What Other Problems Can Pneumonia Cause
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.
- Respiratory failure
Is Pneumonia Related To Covid
Diagnosing pneumonia right now may be more challenging than usual, because of the logistics of taking X-rays in people suspected of having COVID-19, according to Michael Niederman, M.D., clinical director and associate chief of pulmonary and critical care at Weill Cornell Medicine. Thats because imaging equipment used for someone who may have COVID-19 requires extensive disinfecting afterward, and various people and areas of the hospital or health center may be exposed before, during, and afterward. For COVID-19, he says, The very starting point of doing an X-ray to recognize pneumonia is not as simple as it was.
Otherwise, a case of COVID-19 pneumonia is generally diagnosed in the same way as other types. Sometimes, chest X-rays can hint at whether a pneumonia is viral or bacterial, but even in cases of a probable viral cause, the image cant tell doctors which virus is the culprit, Desai says. Testing for fluand, if that test is negative, then testing for COVID-19can help pinpoint the cause.
In terms of treatment, even though COVID-19 is a virus, people who develop severe pneumonia are likely to be given antibiotics, just in case of a secondary bacterial infection, according to the experts we spoke with.
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When To Call A Professional
A simple cold or bronchitis caused by a virus can share many of the same symptoms as pneumonia. Pneumonia is possible when your cough produces sputum with a green or brown color, you are having shaking chills or you are having trouble breathing. In these cases, you should call your doctor for an urgent evaluation.
Also, if you have been diagnosed with a cold or bronchitis and symptoms are getting worse or persist after a week, you should call your doctors office for another evaluation.
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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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How Do You Treat Pneumonia
Treatment for pneumonia depends on the cause. If pneumonia is caused bya bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed to kill the harmfulbacteria. If pneumonia is caused by a viral infection, time and restare best for recovery. Fever reducing medications and cough medicationscan help relieve symptoms and aid sleep.
What Is Pneumonia Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment And Prevention
Pneumonia is a lower respiratory lung infection that causes inflammation in one or both lungs.
Air sacs in your lungs called alveoli can then fill up with fluid or pus, causing flu-like symptoms that can persist for weeks or cause rapid deterioration of breathing leading to hospitalization. Pneumonia doesn’t respond to over-the-counter cold and sinus medicines.
Pneumonia comes in different forms and is caused primarily by bacteria or viruses, which are contagious, and less commonly by fungi or parasites.
The type of germ contributes to how serious the illness can become and how its treated. The severity of an infection depends on many factors, including your age and overall health, as well as where you may have acquired the illness.
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When Does A Cough Turn Into Pneumonia
If you prefer to listen to this article, click on the SoundCloud player below.
So youve been coughing for a while, and instead of getting better, it seems like your cough is getting worse. Maybe youve even started coughing up phlegm or have pain in your chest when you cough. Those are signs your cough might actually be pneumonia.
Pneumonia is an infection in your lungs that can range from mild to life-threatening, which causes your lungs to fill up with fluid or pus. You may experience difficulty breathing or have a fever. If youre a healthy young adult, pneumonia might not be as serious as it is for very young kids or adults over age 65.
Whether youve had your cough for three days or three weeks, knowing the symptoms of pneumonia and when to go to the doctor can help put your mind at ease.
Things People Dont Tell You About Pneumonia
While many of you mightve thought I have been on a hiatus due to winning the lottery and spending the past month enjoying my new home in Italy, Ive actually just been sick. Really, really sick. How sick, you ask? So sick that I couldnt even read. THAT sick.
You see, I went home to Texas for a quick, early Christmas visit with family in mid-December and came back with the worst gift ever: H1N1 flu.
Its an evil, evil virus, folks. As in fetal position for six days. And then for me, it quickly turned into pneumonia, with a side of kidney and liver failure. I spent many days in the hospital. Christmas and New Years never happened, really.
Basically, you know those stories you read in the newspaper about previously healthy people who get the flu and die unexpectedly? Well, that was ALMOST me. I was one of the lucky ones who pulled through.
Its been two weeks since I got out of the hospital now, and Im still on oxygen. Which makes me feel about 90 years old, and is something that I never dreamed Id need in my 40s.
Here are a few other things that no one ever told me about pneumonia.
1. When you are in the throes of pneumonia, before the antibiotics start to kick in, every time you cough, you will feel as though someone is reaching down through your lungs and pulling out your soul. And the sound will be violent. Horribly violent.
Have you ever had H1N1 and/or pneumonia? Whats been your experience?
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Heres How To Tell If You Have The Coronavirus And When To See A Doctor
But, Javaid says, a dry cough doesnt necessarily mean you have coronavirus and even if you do, your odds of getting better are very high. A dry cough in itself can happen for hundreds of different reasons.
Whether a cough is dry or wet, patients should stay inside and monitor symptoms. If the fever and cough last, it may be time to call a doctor. The vast majority of people should be more concerned about preventing the illness from spreading. Prevention tactics include hand-washing, disinfecting your surroundings and not touching your face.
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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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a progressive inflammation of the lungs that makes breathing difficult. It is caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases and/or dust particles, most often cigarette smoke.
Symptoms may take years to develop. They include a chronic cough with mucus , wheezing, chest tightness, fatigue, constant colds, swollen ankles, and cyanosis Depression is often a factor due to reduced quality of life.
Treatment is important because there is a greater risk of heart disease and lung cancer in COPD patients. Though the condition cannot be cured, it can be managed to reduce risks and allow good quality of life.
COPD is commonly misdiagnosed and so careful testing is done. Diagnosis is made through patient history physical examination lung function tests blood tests and chest x-ray or CT scan.
Treatment involves quitting smoking and avoiding exposure to other lung irritants use of inhalers to ease symptoms steroids lung therapies and getting influenza and pneumonia vaccines as recommended.
Top Symptoms: fatigue, cough and dyspnea related to smoking, cough, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping
Symptoms that always occur with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease : cough and dyspnea related to smoking
Symptoms that never occur with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease : rectal bleeding
Urgency: Primary care doctor
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Tips For Regaining Your Strength After Severe Pneumonia
- Get plenty of rest
- Slowly start moving around once you’re ready but don’t overdo it
- Complete any treatments prescribed by your doctor
- Eat a nutritious diet
- Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke
- Limit exposure to throat irritants, including pollution and alcohol
- Perform deep breathing exercises
- Consult with your doctor before returning to exercise
Aim to slowly work back into your usual routine and be sure to take note of any signs that the infection may be coming back.
“Pneumonia can be incredibly taxing and there’s no one-size-fits-all to recovery. Some people feel better in about six weeks, but it can take several months for others to feel better after severe pneumonia,” adds Dr. Lee. “Most importantly, be patient with your body.”
If your recovery is prolonged, a specialized program focused on pulmonary rehabilitation may help get you back on track.
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What Is Bronchitis And How Do You Get It
Bronchitis is an inflammatory disease of the lower respiratory tract. Distributed drip. If you do not want to get it, you need to avoid people who sneeze and cough. Bronchitis can be classified into three types based on their duration.
3 types of bronchitis:
- acute together with cough lasts about 3 weeks, is diagnosed after pneumonia is excluded
- subacute lasts 3 to 8 weeks
- chronic lasts more than 8 weeks
In acute inflammation, viruses are responsible for approximately 90% of infections. In contrast, only 10% of cases are associated with bacterial infections.
- muscle and joint pain
- runny nose
Of course, they can be accompanied by a characteristic cough. dry and tiring at first, especially on an intense morning, immediately after waking up. After a few days, you begin to cough up small amounts of yellow mucus.
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How Can I Prevent Pneumonia
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccination for:
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccination for:
If you have been experiencing pneumonia symptoms, make an appointmentwith your provider today. Prompt treatment of pneumonia isimportant for recovery. Requestan appointment with a family medicine provider to receive your flu andpneumococcal vaccinations.
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