Why Does It Take So Long To Recover From Pneumonia
I was diagnosed with pneumonia in October. The doctor told me to rest, really rest. She told me to expect to feel better after a couple of days of antibiotics, but that I still must rest. She told me I would have good days, but they would be followed by bad days.
After a week of antibiotics, the bacteria causing my illness presumably Streptococcus pneumonia should have been dead. Also called pneumococcus, this pathogen is the most common perpetrator of community-acquired pneumonia, which is pneumonia that people get outside hospitals and nursing homes. The antibiotic I received, a common first-line treatment, covers pneumococcus as well as other bacterial invaders.
Yet my doctor told me to expect weeks to months of recovery. Friends with recent pneumonia experience confirmed this rather depressing outlook. Pneumonia can vary in severity so not everyone will need months to recover.
The scientific literature concurs with the anecdotal evidence I collected. One study followed 576 adult patients with community-acquired pneumonia. Thirty days after diagnosis, 65 percent of them reported fatigue, nearly half of whom said their fatigue was moderate to severe 53 percent reported cough and 36 percent reported shortness of breath. Ninety days after diagnosis, 51 percent reported fatigue, 32 percent cough, and 28 percent shortness of breath.
Why does it take so long to recover from pneumonia?
What Are The Symptoms Of Pneumonia
Pneumonia symptoms can vary from so mild you barely notice them, to so severe that hospitalization is required. How your body responds to pneumonia depends on the type germ causing the infection, your age and your overall health.
The signs and symptoms of pneumonia may include:
- Cough, which may produce greenish, yellow or even bloody mucus
- Fever, sweating and shaking chills
- Sharp or stabbing chest pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or cough
- Loss of appetite, low energy, and fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting, especially in small children
- Confusion, especially in older people
Why Does Recovery Take So Long
Almost everyone who comes down with pneumonia will ask themselves or their healthcare provider at least once, Why does it take so long to recover from pneumonia? After all, you felt better within a few days of starting your antibiotic or, in some cases, steroid treatment. Like everything else in medicine, there are many reasons why it takes so long to recover.
When bacteria enters your body, your body goes into defense mode to remove it. Somewhere along the line, you start your antibiotics, and in a few days, you feel better. This improvement is because the bacteria has been dealt with. However, your body is now in cleanup mode, removing all the debrislike the mucus in your lungs.
Your body starts working overtime to clear out all the trash left behind. Your body is using multiple mechanisms to move the mucus out of your lungs. This movement is why you experience a productive cough.
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How To Regain Strength After Pneumonia
If you have pneumonia, the first priority is clearing the infection causing it.
This means following your doctor’s treatment plan very closely. Yes, getting plenty of rest. And, yes, taking every single pill in the bottle of antibiotics your doctor prescribed you if your pneumonia is bacterial in nature.
But, even after your primary symptoms fade away, you may be left feeling lousy, with low energy and/or dealing with a cough that just won’t quit. In some cases, you may feel weak for months.
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.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Pneumonia
“Pneumonia is a serious illness that can take quite a toll on a person’s lungs and body. It can take anywhere from a week to several months to fully recover from it,” says Dr. Rayman Lee, pulmonologist at Houston Methodist.
The length of time it takes for you to recover from pneumonia is influenced by:
- Your age
- The severity of your illness
- Whether you have other health conditions
- The type of pneumonia
If you’re generally healthy and have only a mild case of pneumonia, your symptoms should begin to improve one to two days after starting treatment.
“Most people with mild pneumonia are able to return to their everyday activities in a week, although fatigue and cough can linger for an entire month,” says Dr. Lee.
Recovery timelines become more murky for people who have severe pneumonia.
“For more serious cases that require hospitalization, we’re not only focused on clearing the infection, we’re also focused on preventing or treating complications that can develop including difficulty breathing, fluid buildup in the lungs, sepsis, acute respiratory distress syndrome and lung abscesses,” warns Dr. Lee.
Pneumonia and its complications can wreak havoc on a person’s lungs and body. And, it can take anywhere from one to six months for a person to recover and regain strength after being hospitalized for pneumonia.
Bacteremia And Septic Shock
If bacteria caused your pneumonia, they could get into your blood, especially if you didn’t see a doctor for treatment. It’s a problem called bacteremia.
When your blood pressure is too low, your heart may not be able to pump enough blood to your organs, and they can stop working. Get medical help right away if you notice symptoms like:
Your doctor will likely treat your lung abscesses with antibiotics. They may do a procedure that uses a needle to remove the pus.
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Pleural Effusions Empyema And Pleurisy
There are two layers of tissue surrounding your lungs called the pleura. One wraps around the outside of your lungs and the other lines the part of your chest where your lungs sit. They help your lungs move smoothly when you breathe.
If your pneumonia isn’t treated, the pleura can get swollen, creating a sharp pain when you breathe in. If you don’t treat the swelling, the area between the pleura may fill with fluid, which is called a pleural effusion.
If the fluid gets infected, it leads to a problem called empyema. Tell your doctor if you are having any of these symptoms:
- Hard time breathing
- You don’t want to breathe deeply because it hurts
For pleural effusions and empyema, your doctor may suggest a procedure that removes fluid from your body with a needle. Antibiotics are also an option to treat empyema.
What Are The Stages Of Pneumonia
Pneumonia can be classified or characterized in different ways. Health care professionals often refer to pneumonia based upon the way that the infection is acquired, such as community-acquired pneumonia or hospital-acquired pneumonia.
- Community-acquired pneumonia , as the name implies, is a respiratory infection of the lung that develops outside of the hospital or health care environment. It is more common than hospital-acquired pneumonia. CAP is most common in winter and affects about 4 million people a year in the U.S.
- Hospital-acquired pneumonia is acquired when an individual is already hospitalized for another condition. HAP is generally more serious because it develops in ill patients already hospitalized or under medical care for another condition. Being on a ventilator for respiratory support increases the risk of acquiring HAP. Health care-associated pneumonia is acquired from other health care settings, like kidney dialysis centers, outpatient clinics, or nursing homes.
Other classification systems for pneumonia describe the way the inflammatory cells infiltrate the lung tissue or the appearance of the affected tissue .
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Scientists Describe Covid Pneumonia As Multiple Wildfires Spreading Across A Forest But How Different Is The Condition From Regular Pneumonia
A study in The Lancet Rheumatology finds that 20% of people infected with the virus suffer from COVID pneumonia, needing hospitalisation.
Ordinary pneumonia, the swelling of tissue in one or both lungs, is caused by a bacterial infection. According to the NHS, symptoms can develop over 24 to 48 hours, or even take several days.
With pneumonia caused by COVID, the inflammation is created by the virus, and takes a different form.
Whats The Difference Between Pcv13 And Ppsv23
|helps protect you against 13 different strains of pneumococcal bacteria||helps protect you against 23 different strains of pneumococcal bacteria|
|usually given four separate times to children under two||generally given once to anyone over 64|
|generally given only once to adults older than 64 or adults older than 19 if they have an immune condition||given to anyone over 19 who regularly smokes nicotine products like cigarettes or cigars|
- Both vaccines help prevent pneumococcal complications like bacteremia and meningitis.
- Youll need more than one pneumonia shot during your lifetime. A 2016 study found that, if youre over 64, receiving both the PCV13 shot and the PPSV23 shot provide the best protection against all the strains of bacteria that cause pneumonia.
- Dont get the shots too close together. Youll need to wait about a year in between each shot.
- Check with your doctor to make sure youre not allergic to any of the ingredients used to make these vaccines before getting either shot.
- a vaccine made with diphtheria toxoid
- another version of the shot called PCV7
- any previous injections of a pneumonia shot
- are allergic to any ingredients in the shot
- have had severe allergies to a PPSV23 shot in the past
- are very sick
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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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What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Pneumonia
Infants and newborns may not show specific symptoms of pneumonia. Instead, the baby or child may appear restless or lethargic. A baby or child with pneumonia may also have a fever or cough or vomit. Older adults or those who have weak immune systems may also have fewer symptoms and a lower temperature. A change in mental status, such as confusion, can develop in older adults with pneumonia.
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Pneumonia Can Be Serious But Not Always
A case of pneumonia doesnt necessarily require a hospital stay: If you are diagnosed with pneumonia but your symptoms arent severe, your doctor may direct you to manage it at home.
COVID-19 aside, bacterial pneumonia can be more serious than viral pneumonia unless you have a case of pneumonia caused by the bacteria Mycoplasma pneumoniae, often referred to as walking pneumonia, the non-medical term for atypical pneumonia. Although its often mild, atypical pneumonia can still make you feel pretty bad and can also be spread to others.
Pneumonia Recovery: Helpful Tips
Getting adequate rest, managing symptoms, staying hydrated and eating properly can help promote a quicker recovery from pneumonia. In some cases, breathing exercises taught by a respiratory therapist can aid in healing and recovery. Stopping smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke will also help speed recovery.
Taking antibiotics as directed for as long as directed can also help prevent relapse if the pneumonia is caused by bacteria. Not completing a course of antibiotics can also increase chances of developing antibiotic resistance if you need to take this type of antibiotic again in the future, so its important to finish medication as directed. Note that a cough may persist for up to 3 weeks after finishing antibiotics.
A chest X-ray following the completion of antibiotics can help determine if the lung infection has cleared up.
If pneumonia is caused by a virus or fungal infection, other medications are needed.
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What Is Walking Pneumonia: How Long Does It Last & Is It Contagious
Walking pneumonia is a generic term for mild pneumonia which is caused by lung infection. This is also known as atypical pneumonia and is not counted in the category of serious ailments. Let us understand what walking pneumonia is, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and recovery. There are many queries regarding walking pneumonia, about how long does it last and whether it is contagious. Let us understand about these in detail.
Homecare For Walking Pneumonia
Once you see a healthcare provider, home treatment is important for your pneumonia recovery. The following measures will help you recover and avoid any complications. These include:
- Get plenty of rest, so the bodys immune system can recharge
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent/rectify dehydration
- Frequent coughing and deep breathing, to get oxygen to the lower lungs and remove secretions
- Take over-the-counter fever reducers
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How Is Walking Pneumonia Diagnosed
Diagnosis of walking pneumonia is done on the basis of physical examination and necessary investigation to detect the causes of infection. Following measures are taken to locate the exact causes and degree of infection you are suffering from:
- Blood test
- Chest X-ray
- Advanced lung scans to detect any abnormality
Depending upon the severity of the disease, tests are carried out and if you are suffering from the mycoplasma infection, more tests need to be carried out.
How To Treat A Lingering Cough
If you have a lingering cough, the following self-care measures may help ease it:
- Drink fluids. Drinking plenty of fluids may help clear potential irritants from your throat. In addition to water, focus on warm liquids like teas and broths.
- Breathe in moisture. Adding extra moisture to your environment may help to soothe irritation in your airways and throat. Try using a humidifier or standing in a steamy shower.
- Drink warm beverages with honey. Mixing 1 or 2 teaspoons of honey in warm water or in an herbal tea may help ease a cough. However, dont give honey to children under 1 year old, due to the risk of infant botulism.
- Suck on cough drops. Sucking on cough drops, throat lozenges, or even hard candies may help soothe an irritated throat.
- Avoid irritants. Try to stay away from common irritants like cigarette smoke, dust, and other environmental irritants that may make your cough worse.
- Take over-the-counter medications. For a cough thats caused by allergies or postnasal drip, OTC or antihistamines may help. However, use caution with OTC cough medications. Although they can treat an acute cough, they wont treat an underlying condition that causes a persistent cough.
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Are Side Effects Associated With The Pneumonia Vaccine
Side effects of PCV13 in children include drowsiness, temporary loss of appetite, or redness, swelling, or tenderness where the shot was given. Mild fever and irritability are other common side effects. Adults receiving pneumococcal vaccines have reported pain, redness, rash, and swelling where the shot was given also mild fever, fatigue, headache, chills, or muscle pain.
Any type of vaccine has the potential to cause an allergic reaction, which can be severe, but this side effect is rare. This would happen within minutes to a few hours after receiving the vaccine.