Learning about your Health: Pneumonia
What is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an inflammation in one or more parts of your lungs. Pneumonia may be caused by either a bacteria or virus and it affects people differently depending on age, general health, and the type of bacteria or virus.
The symptoms will depend on factors such as the type of germ causing the infection, and they are often similar (but much more persistent) to those of a cold or flu.
- chest pain when breathing or coughing
- confusion or changes in mental awareness (if you are aged 65 and above)
- cough with phlegm
- fever, sweating and shaking chills
- body temperature that is lower than normal
- nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- shortness of breath
What are the possible treatments?
The treatment will depend on the germs that cause the infection. If it is due to bacterial infection, antibiotics are usually given. If it’s a viral infection, some may be treated with antiviral medication. Supportive treatment will also be given including medication to relieve cough, fever, chest pains and body aches.
Mild cases of pneumonia will just require good rest in bed, a well-balanced diet and plenty of fluids.
Severe cases may require hospitalization, and patient may need intravenous antibiotics and receive oxygen.
In general, sitting up in a chair and walking is good for your lungs. You need to be up as much as you can tolerate without getting too tired.
Balance rest periods with activity during the day. Pace yourself during recovery, take full deep breaths. Try to be out of bed and active without becoming too tired.
Pneumonia affects each person differently. Talk with your doctor about when to return to your usual activities such as driving, working, and exercising. Keep in mind that it can take up to a month to get your strength back after having pneumonia.
Pneumonia is normally triggered when your immune system is weakened. You can stay healthy by:
This is highly recommended for those who are above 65 years of age, or those with a damaged spleen, suffering from lung diseases, AIDS or other immune deficiency diseases. Keep up to date on your vaccinations. Ask your doctor about the vaccines available.
Wash hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and water
Germs can enter the body when you touch your eyes, mouth, and nose.
Smoking can damage your lungs and lower your body resistance to fend off respiratory infections, and smokers will tend to get more complications from pneumonia than non-smokers. So, stop smoking.
Lead a healthy lifestyle
Stay hydrated by drinking 4-6 glasses of water a day. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables along with good quality protein, and engage in regular exercise to boost your own immune system. This will keep your body strong and healthy.