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.
How To Reduce Your Risk Of Getting Pneumonia
- If you smoke, try to quitsmoke damages the natural defenses in your lungs that protect you from infections
- Ask your health-care provider about getting the pneumococcal vaccination
- Get the flu vaccination each yearsince pneumonia can be a complication of getting the flu, the flu vaccine helps reduce the risk of both the flu and pneumonia
- Stay away from people who are sick
- Wash your hands regularlywhen soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
- If you have an underlying condition that increases your risk of pneumonia , make sure its kept under control
- If you are at a higher risk from pneumonia and you get a cough, fever or shortness of breath, see your health-care provider right away.
- Regular exercise, adequate sleep and a healthy diet can strengthen your immune system.
Beware Of Chronic Chest Pains
Never ignore a mild to moderate chest pain post-COVID recovery, as you may not realise when it can turn into a severe symptom and lead to hospitalisation. One of the most common Long-COVID symptoms is chest pain. This can happen due to a lot of reasons, but patients suffering from pneumonia will experience the worst of it. “one may develop chest pain, which can get worse when breathing or coughing. Take this seriously and make sure to get tested for pneumonia without delay,” says Dr. Mukherjee.
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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.
Pneumonia Vs Cold And Flu Symptoms
Itâs tricky, because pneumonia can be a complication of colds and flu. This happens when the germs that cause those common illnesses get into your lungs. You might be feeling better, but then you start getting symptoms again — and this time, they can be a lot worse.
The top clue that you have the flu is that the symptoms come on strong, seemingly out of nowhere. You may have:
- Fever above 100.4 F
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What Is Walking Pneumonia
When you have pneumonia but the symptoms are mild enough that you do not feel the need to stay home, this is sometimes referred to as walking pneumonia. You may not even know you have pneumonia since it can feel just like a cold. If you have any regular symptomseven mildthat do not go away, see your health-care provider.
Many different germs can cause pneumonia, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. When we breathe in these germs, we can usually fight them off with our immune system and cough them out of our lungs. However, some people have a weakened immune system or cant cough out the germs very well, and they end up getting an infection.
Can Pneumonia Be Prevented Or Avoided
There are many factors that can raise your risk for developing pneumonia. These include:
People who have any of the following conditions are also at increased risk:
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- sickle cell disease
You can help prevent pneumonia by doing the following:
- Get the flu vaccine each year. People can develop bacterial pneumonia after a case of the flu. You can reduce this risk by getting the yearly flu shot.
- Get the pneumococcal vaccine. This helps prevent pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria.
- Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Dont smoke. Smoking damages your lungs and makes it harder for your body to defend itself from germs and disease. If you smoke, talk to your family doctor about quitting as soon as possible.
- Practice a healthy lifestyle. Eat a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables. Exercise regularly. Get plenty of sleep. These things help your immune system stay strong.
- Avoid sick people. Being around people who are sick increases your risk of catching what they have.
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How Do The Lungs Work
Your lungs main job is to get oxygen into your blood and remove carbon dioxide. This happens during breathing. You breathe 12 to 20 times per minute when you are not sick. When you breathe in, air travels down the back of your throat and passes through your voice box and into your windpipe . Your trachea splits into two air passages . One bronchial tube leads to the left lung, the other to the right lung. For the lungs to perform their best, the airways need to be open as you breathe in and out. Swelling and mucus can make it harder to move air through the airways, making it harder to breathe. This leads to shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and feeling more tired than normal.
Warning Signs Your Lungs Are Trying To Give You Post
Your lungs can give you some signs which may signal that something is wrong within your body. Especially when it comes to pneumonia, there are certain signs which may help you spot the condition fast and start the treatment before it is too late for you to save your lungs. According to the experts, the onset of pneumonia can be quite sudden, as in without any prior signals. This is why it is important for you to track the actions of your lungs and understand the abnormalities going on inside your system. COVID-19 wrecks havoc on the lungs, and these conditions thereafter can lead to symptoms such as a phlegm-producing cough. Check out for these subtle, yet warning symptoms of pneumonia post-COVID recovery.
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How Long Does It Last
It takes a certain amount of time to start to feel sick after getting exposed to a germ. This length of time is called the incubation period, and it depends on many things, especially which bug is causing the illness.
With influenza pneumonia, for example, someone may become sick as soon as 12 hours or as long as 3 days after exposure to the flu virus. But with walking pneumonia, a person may not feel it until 2 to 3 weeks after becoming infected.
Most types of pneumonia clear up within a week or two, although a cough can linger for several weeks more. In severe cases, it may take longer to completely recover.
What Happens To Your Lungs When You Get Covid
COVID-19 virus infection is so far the worst battle that mankind has ever witnessed. It is a severe respiratory disease that mainly targets the lungs, leading to several serious symptoms such as drop-in oxygen levels, trouble in breathing, etc. So what exactly happens to your lungs when you catch the virus? According to the studies, the virus gets into the body through respiratory organs such as the mouth, nose, etc. After entering the body the virus comes in contact with the mucous membranes which are present in the respiratory tract innings. The virus then enters one healthy cell and the cell, in turn, makes new virus parts. This one cell then multiplies, and the new viruses then infect the other cells present nearby. The virus then splits into smaller and smaller branches in the lungs. Thus infecting the lungs and the alveoli slowly, leading to symptoms like breathing issues, cough, etc.
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Common Signs And Symptoms Of Pneumonia
The signs and symptoms of pneumonia are often similar to the signs and symptoms of lung cancer. This can make it difficult to detect and diagnose the infection. Some of the similar signs and symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Phlegm or sputum when coughing
- Hoarseness or raspiness
- Chest pain when breathing, coughing, and laughing
Common symptoms of pneumonia may also include having a lower than usual body temperature, fever, sweating, shaking chills, loss of appetite, and nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Keep Up With Vaccinations
Certain vaccines are highly recommended for people with lung cancer. However, before you receive any vaccines, speak with your oncology care team. Some vaccines may be more harmful than helpful. A discussion with an oncologist about the risks and benefits of all vaccines needs to be clearly understood.
A few of the most common vaccines that can help prevent pneumonia with lung cancer are listed below.
These vaccines are generally recommended for people with any type of cancer to prevent infection with COVID-19. Keep in mind, discussion with a health care professional is crucial before making a decision. These vaccines may be less effective for individuals during chemotherapy, radiation , and other cancer treatments.
Its unknown whether people with lung cancer and lung cancer survivors are more likely to catch the flu than other individuals. What is known, however, is that people with cancer have an increased risk of developing complications if they get the flu. These complications may be serious, so doctors usually advise people with cancer to receive this vaccine.
The pneumonia vaccine helps fight off certain bacterial infections, making them particularly helpful for individuals with weakened immune systems. One or more shots of this vaccine may be needed, depending on the doctors recommendation.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- I have a chronic condition. Am I at higher risk for pneumonia?
- Do I have bacterial, viral, or fungal pneumonia? Whats the best treatment?
- Am I contagious?
- How serious is my pneumonia? Will I need to be hospitalized?
- What can I do at home to help relieve my symptoms?
- What are the possible complications of pneumonia? How will I know if Im developing complications?
- What should I do if my symptoms dont respond to treatment or get worse?
- Do we need to schedule a follow-up exam?
- Do I need any vaccines?
Causes And Risk Factors Of Pneumonia
How do you get pneumonia? The majority of the germs that cause infection are spread from person to person through droplets, from coughing or sneezing.
- A weakened immune system due to human immunodeficiency virus or cancer
People who smoke are at higher risk for pneumonia, as are people on immunosuppressive medications, and people who are frequently in close, crowded spaces with others, such as college students and military personnel.
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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
When Should I Contact My Health Care Provider
Pneumonia can be life-threatening if left untreated, especially for certain at risk people. You should contact your health care provider if you have a cough that wont go away, shortness of breath, chest pain and a fever. You should also contact your health care provider if you suddenly begin to feel worse after having a cold or the flu.
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.
Contributed by familydoctor.org editorial staff.
Copyright by the American Academy of Family Physicians
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Lung Cancer Treatments And Pneumonia
The development of infections isnt just determined by the underlying disease. Pneumonia as well as other lower respiratory infections, like bronchitis can also occur as the result of certain tests, treatments, medications, and surgeries. These infections commonly develop after cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy .
Chemo, in particular, is the most common cause of immunodeficiency in people undergoing cancer treatments. WBCs are immune cells that play an important role in helping our bodies fight off infections. Chemotherapy can decrease the number of a particular type of WBCs in the body. This condition can decrease a persons ability to fight off infections like pneumonia.
Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, is another common cause of a decrease in WBC counts and a weakened immune system. A low WBC count is one of the most serious side effects of chemotherapy and radiology.
What To Expect At Home
You will still have symptoms of pneumonia after you leave the hospital.
- Your cough will slowly get better over 7 to 14 days.
- Sleeping and eating may take up to a week to return to normal.
- Your energy level may take 2 weeks or more to return to normal.
You will need to take time off work. For a while, you might not be able to do other things that you are used to doing.
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Medical History And Physical Exam
- Exposure to sick people at home, school, or work or in a hospital
- Flu or pneumonia vaccinations
- Exposure to birds and other animals
During your physical exam, your doctor will check your temperature and listen to your lungs with a stethoscope.
Is Pneumonia Treated Any Differently In Children
Essentially no. Just like adults, bacterial causes of pneumonia in children may be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics are not used to treat pneumonia caused by viruses. Flu-related pneumonia may be treated with antiviral medicine if caught early in the course of illness. Most cases of pneumonia are treated with comfort care measures that ease symptoms. These may include:
- Drinking more fluids.
- Getting more rest.
- Taking over-the-counter medicines for cough and acetaminophen for fever. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about giving medicines to your child.
- Using a cool mist humidifier in your childs room.
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What Are Possible Complications Of Pneumonia
Complications of pneumonia include:
- Pleural effusion. This is when fluid builds up in the layers of tissue between your lungs and the wall of your chest. This fluid can become infected. This can make breathing very difficult. To drain the fluid, a tube may need to be placed between your lungs and your chest wall, or you may need surgery.
- Bacteria in the bloodstream. This can occur when the pneumonia infection in your lungs spreads to your blood. This increases the risk that the infection will spread to other organs in your body. Bacteria in the bloodstream are treated with antibiotics.
- Lung abscesses. Sometimes pus can collect in your lungs and cause abscesses. These are usually treated with antibiotics. Sometimes the abscesses need to be drained with a needle or surgically removed
People who have heart or lung problems, people who smoke, and people who are 65 years of age and older are more likely to experience complications from pneumonia.
Covid Pneumonia: How Long Does Recovery Take
You’re likely familiar with the common, mild symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, dry cough and fatigue.
But, in more severe cases, COVID-19 can also cause serious complications, including pneumonia.
“We still have a lot to learn about COVID-19, particularly about the havoc it can wreak on the lungs and the pneumonia it causes, which is often now called COVID pneumonia,” says Dr. Rayman Lee, pulmonologist at Houston Methodist.
That being said, there’s still plenty that experts like Dr. Lee do know about COVID pneumonia, including about how long it can take to fully recover from it.
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Fluid In The Lungs From Pneumonia
Fluid accumulation in your chest is a known complication of pneumonia. If you or someone you love was diagnosed with pneumonia associated with fluid in the lungs, you can read all about it here. I have personally treated several patients over the last 15 years with fluid in the lungs from pneumonia.
Based on my personal experience as well as a review of the current medical literature, I will explain what it means when you have fluid in the lungs from pneumonia, who is at risk, and what options you have to get rid of that fluid.