Many patients think of pneumonia as an illness that only claimed lives years ago, when people were migrating down the Oregon trail or living in barely-heated huts. This misconception can be dangerous, and it leads to many cases of untreated pneumonia - sometimes even resulting in death. Since pneumonia becomes more common during the winter, now is the perfect time to educate yourself about this illness, which does very much still exist!
Pneumonia Kills Thousands Each Year
In 2013, 56,832 Americans died from pneumonia, and that was not an anomaly. Thousands of people die from pneumonia each year in the U.S. Slightly more women than men are hospitalized for pneumonia, and the rate is slightly higher in white Americans than in black Americans. Clearly, this disease is far from obsolete, and even with modern medicine, not everyone recovers.
Pneumonia Is Most Common in Young and Old
Anyone can get pneumonia, but it is most common in those over the age of 65 and those under the age of two. If you have a young child or are the caregiver for an older adult, keep a close eye on them this winter, and seek medical treatment immediately if you have even the slightest suspicion of pneumonia.
People who have HIV/AIDS or other conditions that lead to weakened immunity are also at an increased risk for pneumonia. Respiratory illnesses, like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, make pneumonia more likely, too.
Pneumonia Can Be Caused by the Flu Virus
Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria or by viruses. One of the most common causes is actually the flu virus. What starts as a normal case of influenza can progress to pneumonia if the virus makes its way into the lungs. Therefore, getting your flu vaccine is an important step towards preventing pneumonia.
Pneumonia can also be caused by the bacteria that causes strep throat. If you develop a very sore throat and spots in your throat, which are signs of strep throat, seek prompt treatment. Taking antibiotics at the first sign of strep throat will not only make your throat feel better, but it will also keep pneumonia from developing.
Pneumonia Symptoms Can Sneak Up on You
Most cases of pneumonia start off as a cold or flu that you can manage at home without the help of a doctor. But if you start noticing the following symptoms, your cold or flu may have developed into pneumonia:
- Serious chest pain, especially when you cough
- Chilly spells that cause your body to shake
- A fever of 102 degrees F or higher
- Bloody mucus produced when you cough
- Extreme lethargy
- Trouble catching your breath
- Lack of appetite
- Sweaty, clammy, and cool skin
Pneumonia can sneak up on you. Judge your need for medical treatment based on how you are feeling right now, not how you were feeling yesterday. You very well may have just had a cold yesterday, but today, you could have pneumonia.
Pneumonia Treatment Can Be Life-Saving
The sooner you receive medical treatment, the greater your chances of recovering from pneumonia. Some treatments your doctor may recommend include the following.
If you have bacterial pneumonia, your doctor will administer antibiotics. In most cases, you'll be given amoxicillin, which is affordable and safe for children.
The extreme fatigue associated with pneumonia is sometimes due to a lack of oxygen, from difficulty breathing. Your doctor may administer oxygen therapy, which will ensure your brain and organs get the oxygen you need.
Dehydration is a common and dangerous problem for pneumonia patients. Your doctor may re-hydrate you with IV fluids, which will help manage your fever and speed your recovery.
Some patients can recover from pneumonia at home, as long as they follow their doctor's orders for rest and medication use. But younger, older, and immune-compromised patients often require hospitalization.
Don't let pneumonia catch you off-guard this winter. This illness can be deadly, but physicians can administer life-saving treatments. Head to Walking Urgent Care, Inc. if you suspect you may have pneumonia. Our on-site pharmacy guarantees you get the necessary antibiotics and other medications promptly.