Complications Of Pneumonia And Copd:
Pneumonia with COPD can result in serious complications. Early treatment can help decrease the risk of long term and permanent damage. The inflammation from the pneumonia can limit your airflow, which can further damage your lungs. This can progress into acute respiratory failure, which can be fatal.Pneumonia with COPD can cause deprivation of oxygen, or hypoxia which can lead to other complications, including:
- cardiovascular problems, including stroke and heart attack
- damage to the kidneys
- irreversible brain damage
People with a more advanced case of COPD are at a higher risk for serious complications from pneumonia.
Progressive Copd Due To Infections
When your lungs become infected with bacteria, the tissue damage and inflammation cause thickening of the airways. This can affect your lungs, leading to a cycle of persistent inflammation and stiffness.
After recovering from an acute infection, your baseline lung disease may worsen, causing your pulmonary function to permanently decline.
How Is Pneumonia Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and do a physical exam. He or she may order a chest X-ray and a complete blood count . This is usually enough for your doctor to know if you have pneumonia. You may need more tests if you have bad symptoms, are an older adult, or have other health problems. In general, the sicker you are, the more tests you may need.
Your doctor may also test mucus from your lungs to find out if bacteria are causing your pneumonia. Finding out what is causing your pneumonia can help your doctor choose the best treatment for you. However, often the organism can’t be found and a broad-spectrum antibiotic may be given.
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Complications Of Pneumonia And Copd
Having both pneumonia and COPD can result in serious complications, causing long-term and even permanent damage to your lungs and other major organs.
The inflammation from the pneumonia can limit your airflow, which can further damage your lungs. This can progress into acute respiratory failure, a condition that can be fatal.
Pneumonia can cause deprivation of oxygen, or hypoxia, in people with COPD. This can lead to other complications, including:
- damage to kidneys
- cardiovascular problems, including stroke and heart attack
- irreversible brain damage
People with a more advanced case of COPD are at a higher risk for serious complications from pneumonia. Early treatment can help decrease these risks.
People with COPD and pneumonia are normally admitted to the hospital for treatment. Your doctor may order chest-x-rays, CT scans, or blood work to diagnose pneumonia. They may also test a sample of your sputum to look for infection.
Can You Catch Pneumonia More Than Once
Yes. Pneumonia is caused by many different microbes, and so getting it once does not protect you from getting it again. If you get pneumonia more than once you may need to have more investigations to understand why this has happened. It could be due to a problem in your chest or your immune system, and you may be referred to a specialist.
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How Do You Get Pneumonia
You may get pneumonia:
- After you breathe infected air particles into your lungs.
- After you breathe certain bacteria from your nose and throat into your lungs.
- During or after a viral upper respiratory infection, such as a cold or influenza .
- As a complication of a viral illness, such as measles or chickenpox.
- If you breathe large amounts of food, gastric juices from the stomach, or vomit into the lungs . This can happen when you have had a medical condition that affects your ability to swallow, such as a seizure or a stroke.
A healthy person’s nose and throat often contain bacteria or viruses that cause pneumonia. Pneumonia can develop when these organisms spread to your lungs while your lungs are more likely to be infected. Examples of times when this can happen are during or soon after a cold or if you have a long-term illness, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .
You can get pneumonia in your daily life, such as at school or work or when you are in a hospital or nursing home . Treatment may differ in healthcare-associated pneumonia, because bacteria causing the infection in hospitals may be different from those causing it in the community. This topic focuses on community-associated pneumonia.
The 4 Stages Of Pneumonia
Pneumonia remains a leading cause of death worldwide. Lobar pneumonia is typically the more fatal form of this infection because it tends to encompass the entirety of the lobe.
While lobar pneumonia is usually described as moving through phases, new research suggests that severe illness or even death can occur in any of these stages, and you may not move through these stages in an orderly fashion. Its also possible for you to be in more than one stage of this progression at a time.
Typically, these stages are used to help guide treatment and grade the severity of a lobar pneumonia infection. Below is an explanation of each stage.
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Common Signs And Symptoms Of Lung Infection
Due to COPD compromising lung function in patients, its vital that signs and symptoms of lung infection are watched for and addressed quickly to reduce the chances of dangerous complications. Unfortunately, lung infections can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from common symptoms of COPD. If you are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, you should consult with your physician as soon as possible to determine if a lung infection may be present :
What Are The Treatments For Pneumonia
Treatment for pneumonia depends on the type of pneumonia, which germ is causing it, and how severe it is:
- Antibiotics treat bacterial pneumonia and some types of fungal pneumonia. They do not work for viral pneumonia.
- In some cases, your provider may prescribe antiviral medicines for viral pneumonia
- Antifungal medicines treat other types of fungal pneumonia
You may need to be treated in a hospital if your symptoms are severe or if you are at risk for complications. While there, you may get additional treatments. For example, if your blood oxygen level is low, you may receive oxygen therapy.
It may take time to recover from pneumonia. Some people feel better within a week. For other people, it can take a month or more.
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How Can You Prevent Pneumonia
Experts recommend immunization for children and adults. Children get the pneumococcal vaccine as part of their routine shots. If you are 65 or older or you have a long-term health problem, it’s a good idea to get a pneumococcal vaccine. It may not keep you from getting pneumonia. But if you do get pneumonia, you probably won’t be as sick. You can also get an influenza vaccine to prevent the flu, because sometimes people get pneumonia after having the flu.
You can also lower your chances of getting pneumonia by staying away from people who have the flu, respiratory symptoms, or chickenpox. You may get pneumonia after you have one of these illnesses. Wash your hands often. This helps prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria that may cause pneumonia.
The Link Between Copd And Pneumonia
COPD is a group of lung diseases, namely emphysema and bronchitis, that prevents normal breathing. Emphysema loosens and weakens the air sacs in your lungs, which need to stay tight to properly provide oxygen to the body. Bronchitis both inflames and creates excess mucus in the tubes that carry air to the lungs. Combined, they seriously undermine your respiratory systems function.
Pneumonia inflames them and fills them with fluid, making breathing incredibly difficult and reducing oxygen levels in the blood.
The bottom line: COPD weakens patients respiratory systems, and not only does that make it easier for pneumonia to swoop in, but also worsens symptoms. This is why its essential for COPD patients to keep a careful watch for pneumonia symptomsthe earlier you catch it, the more you can do about it.
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How Is Copd Treated
If you have COPD, the most important steps you can take to reduce symptoms and improve your quality of life are:
- Quit smoking. For people who smoke, the most important part of treatment is to stop smoking.
- Avoid tobacco smoke and other air pollutants at home and at work.
Your doctor may also consider the following treatment options:
- Medicine. Symptoms such as coughing or wheezing can be treated with medicine.
- Pulmonary rehabilitation, a personalized treatment program that teaches you how to manage your COPD symptoms to improve quality of life. Plans may include learning to breathe better, how to conserve your energy, and what types of food and exercise are right for you.
- Prevention and treatment of lung infections. Lung infections can cause serious problems in people with COPD. Certain vaccines, such as flu and pneumonia vaccines, are especially important for people with COPD. Learn more about vaccination recommendations. Respiratory infections should be treated with antibiotics, if appropriate.
- Supplemental oxygen. A portable oxygen tank may be needed if blood oxygen levels are low.
Seek Help When You Need It
As you can see, people with COPD are at an increased risk for developing pneumonia. When you observe symptoms and signs of COPD that fail to respond to your typical treatment regimen, or you observe any of the above symptoms of pneumonia, you should seek immediate medical attention.
The earlier you seek help, the easier it is for physicians to fix you, and the more likely you can be treated on an outpatient basis. However, sometimes you may require a hospital admission so doctors can work their magic to help you overcome your pneumonia/COPD flare-up.
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Spreading Pneumonia To Others
If your pneumonia is caused by a virus or bacteria, you may spread the infection to other people while you are contagious. How long you are contagious depends on what is causing the pneumonia and whether you get treatment. You may be contagious for several days to a week.
If you get antibiotics, you usually cannot spread the infection to others after a day of treatment.
Tips For Avoiding Pneumonia And Other Exacerbations When You Have Copd
Having a chronic lung condition such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can make you more susceptible to dangerous lung infections like pneumonia. However, according to the COPD Foundation, there are ways you can avoid developing pneumonia and other exacerbations.
What is pneumonia? Pneumonia is an infection that can occur in one or both lungs. It can be caused by bacteria or viruses and in rare cases, certain fungi which are transferred by touch or by breathing droplets in the air. The organisms settle in the air sacs within the lungs and turn to fluid or pus as the immune system tries to rid the lungs of the infection.
Pneumonia mainly affects young children, smokers, adults over the age of 65 and people with lung conditions such as COPD. Along with the flu, pneumonia is the eighth leading cause of death in the U.S.
The infection can be caused by other illnesses such as flu, measles, pneumococcus, whooping cough and Haemophilus influenzae type b .
Symptoms of pneumonia Symptoms of pneumonia can often be mistaken for a COPD exacerbation, which makes it extremely important to contact your healthcare team if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Fever or shaking chills
- Rapid breathing or shortness of breath more severe than usual
- Excess coughing producing lots of mucus
- Change in color of mucus
- Increased heart rate
- Pain in a specific area of the chest when deep breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
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Improving Respiratory Health And Treating Copd
COPD cant be cured. Instead, treatment aims to reduce symptoms, improve quality of life, and prolong survival. COPD flare-ups occur, on average, 1.3 times per year. As the disease progresses, flare-ups may become more frequent.
A number of lifestyle changes can aid in COPD management. These include:
- Maintaining a healthy body weight by eating a well-balanced diet.
- Quitting smoking.
- Avoiding allergens and toxic fumes. People exposed to fumes at work should talk to their doctors about ways to reduce their risk.
- Staying inside when the air quality is poor. Pollution is a major trigger for people with COPD.
- Promptly treating respiratory infections.
- Getting regular exercise as tolerated. Taking part in pulmonary rehabilitation can be a good way to start an exercise routine.
Activities such as walking, yoga, and Tai-chi can strengthen the heart and lungs. These improve the bodys ability to use oxygen and can help with breathing techniques, making it easier to breathe.
Medical treatments that can slow the progress of COPD or reduce symptoms include:
Severe COPD symptoms may require hospitalization and may not improve with home medications.
How Are Lung Infections Diagnosed
While the common symptoms listed can indicate a possible lung infection, proper diagnosis will require a trip to see your physician. During your visit, one or more of the following methods may be used to diagnose you :
- Temperature reading
- Medical history and symptom discussion
- Chest x-ray, CT scan, or other imaging to view lung condition
- Testing of mucus
- Oxygen level measuring via pulse oximeter
- Checking for cultures through blood draws or throat swabs
- Checking your complete blood count
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Copd And Knowing If You Have Pneumonia
Flare-ups of COPD symptoms, known as an exacerbation, can be confused with symptoms of pneumonia. Thats because theyre very similar.
These can include shortness of breath and tightening of your chest. Often, the similarities in symptoms can lead to underdiagnoses of pneumonia in those with COPD.
People with COPD should watch carefully for symptoms thatre more characteristic of pneumonia. These include:
- high fever
- headaches and body aches
People who experience both COPD and pneumonia often have trouble speaking due to a lack of oxygen.
They may also have sputum thats thicker and darker in color. Normal sputum is white. Sputum in people with COPD and pneumonia can be green, yellow, or blood-tinged.
Prescription medications that typically help COPD symptoms wont be effective for pneumonia symptoms.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience the above symptoms associated with pneumonia. You should also see a doctor if your COPD symptoms become worse. Its important to be aware of:
- increased difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, or wheezing
- restlessness, confusion, slurring of speech, or irritability
- unexplained weakness or fatigue that lasts more than a day
- changes in sputum, including color, thickness, or amount
When To See A Healthcare Provider
If you are having trouble breathing or experiencing a high fever that is not going down with over-the-counter medication, seek immediate medical attention.
Remember that infants and small children, older adults over the age of 65, smokers, and people with chronic conditions such as COPD, asthma, and heart disease are at high risk of developing pneumonia and should not wait to see a healthcare provider if they are experiencing pneumonia-like symptoms.
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What Is The Gold System For Categorizing Copd Severity
The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease is a program started by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and World Health Organization. Countries around the world use its guidelines and recommendations for diagnosing and treating COPD.
The GOLD system previously classified COPD from stages 1 to 4 solely based on your lung capacity measured by a spirometry test. But the newest GOLD guidelines combine your spirometry results with subjective measures of your symptom severity to determine your level of risk based on their ABCD rubric.
A spirometer test involves exhaling into a machine called a spirometer. The machine measures how hard and quickly you can exhale.
Your doctor will examine two numbers: your force vital capacity and your force expiratory volume in one second . Your FVC is the total amount of air you can breathe out and FEV1 is the amount you breathe out in one second. A ratio of your FEV1/FVC needs to be less than 0.7 for a diagnosis of COPD.
Your doctor will grade your spirometry results from grade 1 to grade 4 . These grades correlate with stage 1 to stage 4 COPD in the old system.
Your healthcare provider will determine the severity of your symptoms using either the British Medical Research Council questionnaire or the COPD Assessment Test .
Increased Risk Of Infection With Copd
When you have COPD, you are especially vulnerable to pneumonia for a number of reasons. Over the years, chronic inflammation interferes with your body’s natural ability to clear and destroy bacteria that enter into your lungs. Moreover, the accumulated mucus common in COPD creates an environment that is hospitable to some lung infections.
And, if you take steroids to manage your COPD, your immune system can become weakened, making you more susceptible to infections.
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