Whats The Treatment Like For Pneumonia In Older Adults
Some cases of pneumonia in older adults can be treated at home. However, depending on your symptoms and overall health, its also possible that you may be hospitalized.
Antibiotics are used to treat pneumonia thats caused by bacteria. The types of antibiotics used can depend on the type of bacteria causing the infection and on the infections severity. They may be given orally or .
Some examples of antibiotics used for pneumonia can include one or a combination of the following:
Viruses cant be treated with antibiotics.
Treatment of viral pneumonia focuses on supportive care, such as easing symptoms, maintaining hydration, and monitoring vital signs. In some cases, antiviral drugs may be used.
In the case of the flu, an antiviral, such as Tamiflu, may be prescribed.
Pneumonia Complications That Are Serious For Seniors
Medically reviewed by Dr. Nick Rosen, MD on February 1st, 2021
Pneumonia is a lung infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs, causing troubled breathing, fever, cough, chest pain, and other uncomfortable symptoms. While most people are aware of this infection, many dont realize that pneumonia is quite common and one of the leading causes of hospitalizations in Americaespecially for seniors. An early diagnosis and prompt treatment could mean the difference between a hospitalized recovery or at-home recovery. In any scenario, mild to severe pneumonia complications can happen and should never be discounted. For older adults, the risk of experiencing serious complications with pneumonia is much higher. With that in mind, here are a few dangerous pneumonia complications that seniors should be aware of:
Why You Need To Learn About The Dangers Of Elderly Pneumonia
Pneumonia in elderly people is somewhat common, but some forms can be extremely dangerous. Seniors are especially susceptible and can easily contract pneumonia in nursing home settings. There are a few different types of pneumonia as well as different sets of symptoms. Often, the elderly display pneumonia symptoms differently than those who are younger.
Various measures can prevent pneumonia. Treatment methods will vary depending on the severity and type of illness.
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Home Care And Recovery
How long does it take to recover from pneumonia in the elderly? You can expect a recovery time as long as six to eight weeks. Its longer than recovery time for younger people since its harder for seniors to fight off the bacteria that pneumonia produces in their lungs.
By catching the disease early, you reduce the downtime for the disease. Another thing that affects pneumonia in elderly recovery time is the quality of home care. It involves homemaking assistance, which gives the person plenty of rest in order to avoid relapse, helping them build immunity .
If youre interested in more information about how in-home care can help your elderly loved ones, contact All American Home Care. We provide needed medical assistance to help in recovery from pneumonia in the elderly and enjoy a higher quality of life.
Signs And Symptoms Of Viral And Bacterial Pneumonia
The symptoms of bacterial and viral pneumonia may include:
- Cough may be productive in bacterial pneumonia and dry or unproductive in viral pneumonia, alongside flu-like symptoms. Coughing may produce bloody, yellow, greenish mucus or phlegm.
- Patients with bacterial pneumonia frequently experience fever and chills. Sweating may also be profuse.
- Headache is a common symptom of pneumonia
- Weakness, tiredness, fatigue, lethargy, and lack of energy
- Muscles and joints aches and pain
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What Are The Symptoms
Pneumonia presents itself differently in young children, adults, and the elderly, which can make it more difficult to recognize the disease in yourself or a loved one.
Young children: Newborns and infants may not show any sign of infection after contracting pneumonia. They may, however, vomit, cough, or have difficulty getting comfortable or eating, explained Kavanaugh. They may have difficulty breathing or begin abdominal breathing . These signs are serious and warrant immediate attention from a medical professional.
Adults: After contracting pneumonia, adults often experience a cough, fever, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and general fatigue that does not improve.
Elderly: Adults over 65 can experience the same symptoms as adults, said Kavanaugh. Pneumonia can also cause confusion, forgetfulness, or a sudden change in mental ability. It can also cause a change in color in the mucus coughed up from the respiratory tract.
How Is It Treated
Most types of pneumonia are treated with antibiotics. Pneumonia caused by bacteria is the most easily treated viral and fungal pneumonia are more difficult to treat.
Dr. Michael Niederman is the pneumonia expert here at Weill Cornell Medicine, detailed Kavanaugh. His research has improved guidelines for treating pneumonia, including antibiotic-resistant strains.
At Weill Cornell Medicine, many pneumonia patients receive general antibiotic treatment. More difficult cases receive a targeted therapy of two specific antibiotics to be taken at the same time.
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How To Treat Pneumonia In Seniors
Pneumonia can often be treated at home. The goal is to rid your body of the infection while preventing more serious complications. Pneumonia affects the lungs and breathing. This makes it vital to ensure that the body is getting the oxygen it needs to recover. Following these steps can help to manage the symptoms of fever and cough so that your loved one can recover more quickly:
Recovery from pneumonia can take anywhere from a week to months. You will need to talk to your doctor about when it is appropriate to return to a normal routine.
An early response to the signs of pneumonia can be your best strategy for a smooth recovery.
Early Warning Signs Of Pneumonia In A Senior
While there is no single cause for pneumonia, advanced age is considered to be a top a risk factor for this serious health problem. Confusion and/or delirium are red-flag signs of pneumonia in elderly people as well as lower-than-normal body temperatures. Other signs, which can sometimes be confused with a cold and the flu, include:
- Chest pain during breathing or coughing
- Feeling tired or weak
- Shortness of breath
While it can be hard for family members to spot these signs, professional in-home care providers are trained to monitor and track pneumonia symptoms in adults.
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What Is The Recovery Time For Pneumonia In The Elderly
A simple Google search for that question makes us think that an elderly person can recover from pneumonia in in as little as two weeks but it may take two months or longer to recover completely.
A study that appeared in the Patient Related Outcome Measures Journal shed some light on the vast difference between a short recovery and a long one.
They begin by understanding the health status of the elderly person who is afflicted with pneumonia. For those that are in good health, expect a recovery time of about three weeks. In that period, shortness of breath, weakness, and fatigue are common. If the elderly person has existing health conditions, especially those that involve the respiratory system, such as COPD the recovery period can take as long as 60 or more days and be far more challenging.
Treatment And Management Of Pneumonia
Hospital treatments of pneumonia in seniors vary case by case. But generally, supportive treatment has an important role in managing the illness, which includes:
- Fluids and other medicines that are given through an IV
- Medication that helps loosen the mucus and open the airways.
As for intensive treatment methods, they depend on what caused the illness. Bacterial pneumonia is treated with antibiotics, which target the specific type of bacterium causing the infection. The choice also depends on the patients general level of health, underlying health conditions, other prescribed medication, recent use of antibiotics, and antimicrobial resistance or drug resistance.
Viral pneumonia usually gets better on its own with no particular treatments. However, there are antiviral medications that a doctor can prescribe to lessen the severity or shorten the length of the illness. Patients may also need fever-reducing drugs but only in rare situations.
Lastly, as for fungal pneumonia, doctors will treat it with antifungal medication that targets the specific fungus.
Empiric treatment of pneumonia is based on clinical assessment of each case. Doctors evaluate the severity and risk factors for multidrug-resistant organisms and develop a specialized treatment plan. When caught early and treated appropriately, the prognosis for pneumonia in the elderly is encouraging.
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What Are Some Symptoms Of Pneumonia
Symptoms of pneumonia may seem similar to that of the flu, but they tend to last longer and be noticeably more aggressive. However, if you’re older, it’s essential to seek treatment right away to avoid a potentially dangerous situation. You should make an appointment to be evaluated by one of our specialists if you or a loved one is experiencing one of the following
- Coughing that produces green or yellow fluid such as phlegm
- Lack of energy and confusion
- A sudden spike in fever accompanied by chills
- Abnormally low body temperature
- Shortness of breath/ difficulty breathing
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
It is important to carefully monitor people who belong to at-risk groups for pneumonia due to a weakened immune system, age, or a chronic or acute condition. Receiving proper care in a timely matter is vital to fighting the infection before it becomes life-threatening.
Box 1 Common Stratification Scores To Assess Severity And Need For Hospitalization In Patients With Community
Pneumonia severity index score
A total of 20 parameters are evaluated at the time of clinical presentation and consist of:
Five comorbid conditions
Five physical examination findings
Seven laboratory/imaging variables .
Pneumonia severity index score and CURB-65 .
BP: Blood pressure CURB: Confusion, urea nitrogen, respiratory rate, blood pressure and age of 65 years or older.
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What Is The Survival Rate For Elderly That Have Pneumonia
According to the Centers for Disease Control around a million people in the United States go to the doctor or an emergency room for treatment of pneumonia. Of those who seek treatment, 50,000 die each year.
With community-acquired pneumonia 10 percent who are admitted are placed in an ICU unit. Even in ICU, the death rate of people with pneumonia can reach 25 percent.
Survival depends on many factors. Age is an important factor and more elderly people succumb to pneumonia than any other adult group. Overall health is another important factor as those with existing health issues face a harder time fighting off pneumonia.
Hydration Rest And Monitoring
Hydration and rest are the basic steps that are needed during recovery after a hospital discharge or when one does not have to be admitted. The seniors need to be monitored so as to ensure that the infection doesnt come back or even become worse.
Be mindful of the symptoms and also know that pneumonia can be very persistent and hard to deal with elderly persons. Recovery from pneumonia in elderly should be taken seriously as well. It is important to keep the person under very close monitoring.
It is important to note that an elderly person could be very weak because of physical capabilities as well as a compromised immune system. Therefore, monitoring and allowing them to rest is essential. Since the elderly can also be quite forgetful.
It is important to make sure that they take all their drugs on time, take lots of fluids, and eat a healthy and balanced diet. The fact that pneumonia has the likelihood of being persistent and difficult to treat in the elderly should be one of the things that should encourage us to be more vigilant in caring for elderly persons.
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Respiratory Viral Infection And Risk Of Asthma Exacerbations
According to the CDC, individuals with asthma who get the flu are more likely to develop pneumonia as a complication.20 Viral infection is primarily responsible for exacerbations of asthma the most common is rhinovirus, while other viral causes include RSV, parainfluenza virus, coronavirus, and influenza viruses.21-23 Other respiratory infections and additional trigger categories can contribute to exacerbations as well additionally, host factors such as allergic rhinitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or obesity may also cause or worsen symptoms.21,22 Pharmacists should consider these contributing factors during counseling discussions and medication-management sessions with patients.
Can Pneumonia Be Treated At Home
Your loved one may receive treatment for pneumonia at home or at a hospital, depending on the severity of the disease, their age, and overall health condition.
Your senior relative may need to be hospitalized if they have other respiratory or heart conditions. They may also need to be treated at a hospital if they need help breathing or if they have severe symptoms, including:
- Low blood pressure
- A very low or very fast heart rate
If your loved one is recovering from pneumonia after a hospital stay and needs help with daily activities, consider a short-term stay at an assisted living community. Respite care allows you and your loved one peace of mind that someone is available 24 hours a day for assistance and immediate response if theres an emergency.
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How Is Pneumonia Diagnosed
Pneumonia in older adults can be difficult to diagnose. Your doctor will first request your medical history in which you may be asked things such as:
- your symptoms
- medications or supplements that youre taking
- your smoking history
- whether youve received your pneumococcal or influenza vaccinations
Your doctor will then perform a physical examination. Theyll check vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rate, and blood oxygen levels. They may also use a stethoscope to listen for crackling sounds in your lungs.
In order to make a diagnosis, your doctor may also order the following:
- Blood tests. These tests involve taking a blood sample from a vein in your arm. The results can help indicate the presence of an infection.
- Imaging. Your doctor order imaging technology such as X-ray or CT scan to visualize your chest and lungs.
- Culture. Cultures can be taken from sputum or pleural fluid to help determine what type of germ may be causing your infection.
- Pulse oximetry. Pneumonia can affect the amount of oxygen that you can take in. This test measures the amount of oxygen in your blood.
Who Is At Risk For Pneumonia
There are a handful of factors that increase a persons risk for developing pneumonia.
- Age people over age 65 and children under the age of 2 are more susceptible
- Smoking smoking damages the lungs and makes smokers more vulnerable
- Certain medical conditions adults with suppressed immune systems or chronic illnesses like heart disease, COPD, and diabetes are at higher risk
- Hospitalization breathing assistance can increase lung exposure to bacteria or virus
- Difficulty swallowing older adults who experience trouble swallowing due to neurological conditions like Parkinsons, stroke, and dementia are at increased risk of aspiration pneumonia
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What Are The Symptoms Of Pneumonia
Signs and symptoms of pneumonia may include:
- High fever
- Chest pain when breathing or coughing
Sometimes, symptoms of pneumonia may be different in seniors. Elderly adults with pneumonia may have a low-grade fever or even a normal temperature. They may also be less alert, show signs of confusion, or experience changes in mental awareness. If you suspect your aging loved one has pneumonia, see the doctor promptly.
Pneumonia Symptoms In Elders
Pneumonia is an infection of your lungs. There can be swelling or fluid in the air sacs. This can cause trouble with breathing as well as affect energy levels and overall health.
If your loved one is sick, the signs of pneumonia include:
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