Pneumonia is an inflammatory infection affecting tissues in one or both lungs, and it fills the lung air sacs with pus-like fluid. This decreases blood flow and oxygen levels in the body triggering health conditions like kidney failure, low blood pressure, and sometimes death.
Pneumonia is categorized based on the cause; bacteria, virus, fungus, or the environment.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a common cause for bacterial pneumonia, and it can occur on its own or due to a cold or flu. The infection may affect a small section of the lung or the entire lung (lobar pneumonia).
The severity of bacterial pneumonia depends on the strength of the bacteria, age, overall health, and how quickly the disease is diagnosed.
Fungal pneumonia mostly affects seniors with chronic conditions, and it can either be endemic or opportunistic.
Viral pneumonia is caused by respiratory viruses like flu or a common cold. The infection can be mild, but without proper management, it can worsen and cause other health complications.
The pneumonia-causing organisms are spread from person to person, but certain settings like the environment can increase the risk.
Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenza are the causes of community-acquired pneumonia. CAP symptoms include fever, cough, chest pain, and dyspnea.
HAP, also called nosocomial pneumonia, refers to pneumonia contracted in a hospital, and it develops at least 48 to 72 hours after admission. HAP is usually caused by bacteria, and it is a common cause of death in patients admitted to the Intensive Care Units. The first symptom is mental changes and confusion, but you can also notice coughs with pus, fever, chills, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting.
Healthcare-associated pneumonia usually occurs in non-hospitalized seniors who reside in nursing homes, kidney dialysis centers, or long-term care facilities. HCAP is commonly caused by Staphylococcus aureus.
Other types of pneumonia that don’t fall in any of these categories include;
Often, pneumonia symptoms mimic those of flu or cold, and they vary from one person to another. These pneumonia signs can manifest suddenly or slowly, and they include:
Even with pneumonia treatment, some seniors may develop complications that are fatal. So, visit an emergency room near you when you notice complications such as;
Pneumonia treatment involves treating the infection and preventing further complications. The treatment used will depend on the type of pneumonia and the severity of the disease.
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infection. But you may also use cough medicine, which helps to loosen mucus in your lungs, fever, and pain relievers that eliminate discomfort.
Even with treatment, pneumonia can still reoccur, that’s why it is recommended you take bed rest until you are fully recovered. Sleep not only reduces stress but triggers the body’s natural healing process and boosts immunity.
Water helps to clean viruses, germs in your immune system and lightens the mucus in your lungs.
Also, try peppermint tea– a decongestant, painkillers, and anti-inflammatory, which helps to expel mucus and alleviate irritation.
Germs exist in our environment, and keeping your home clean can reduce the risk of pneumonia. Therefore, clean the floor and surfaces with a disinfectant and use the home air purifiers to keep the air clean.
Pneumonia prevention, especially among the elderly, is crucial. There are different ways you can prevent lung infections:
Vaccination. Try to get a flu shot every year to prevent influenza.
Pneumonia is curable, but without proper treatment and preventive measures, the infection can reoccur and eventually develop into drug-resistant pneumonia. Proper hygiene practices, exercise, and diet can go a long way in preventing pneumonia. Also, get an influenza flu shot every year because influenza increases the risk of developing a lung infection.