Pneumonia: Are You At Risk?
Pneumonia is an infection in the air sacs of the lungs. The inflamed lung may fill with fluid, pus or mucus. Pneumonia can be caused by bacterial or viral infections. Symptoms of pneumonia include:
- Fever and shaking chills
- Cough that may produce phlegm
- Chest pain when breathing or coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Confusion (in older adults)
- Appetite loss
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
Antibiotics are used to treat suspected cases of bacterial pneumonia, and most people improve within 3-5 days. Depending on overall health and age, the healing process may take longer. If you are required to stay home, you can try some of these techniques to help your pneumonia:
- Place a warm, wet towel over your nose and mouth and breathe deeply. This will help loosen thick mucus.
- Take a few deep breaths every hour to help open up your lungs.
- Talk with your doctor about how much fluid to drink; water, juice, and weak tea can help. Do not drink alcohol.
Infants and adults over the age of 65 are more prone to catch pneumonia. In addition, people with chronic lung diseases (COPD, bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis), immune system problems (HIV/AIDS, cancer patients, organ transplant etc.), cigarette smokers, brain disorders (stoke, dementia, cerebral palsy etc.), or those who have had recent surgery are also at high-risk for pneumonia.
A healthy lifestyle combined with good hygiene can help prevent pneumonia. There are also vaccines for children, older adults and individuals with chronic lung conditions that can help protect against pneumonia. Talk to your doctor to see what would be best for you.