Tips For Avoiding Pneumonia

The flu can be contracted at any time, but in the United States the season is generally defined as October through March with a peak in February. The scope of flu is significant - in 2020, the CDC reported that more than 13 million people had already contracted the flu by early January. When flu and cold viruses are in full swing the risk of contracting pneumonia is greater. Pneumonia can be incredibly dangerous, especially for people over the age of 65 or those who have other diseases or a compromised immune system. Here is a closer look at pneumonia and how to avoid contracting this illness. 

Understanding Pneumonia 
There are different types of pneumonia: viral, fungal and bacterial, but bacterial pneumonia tends to be the most common. This type of pneumonia occurs when bacteria makes its way into and infects the lungs. A number of different types of bacteria can cause pneumonia, but the most common is called pneumococcus. Common symptoms include: 

  • Fever, achiness and chills. 
  • Difficulty breathing and asthma-like symptoms. 
  • Coughing with mucus. 
  • Extreme fatigue. 
  • Queasiness or nausea and/or a reduction in appetite. 
  • Sweating and night sweats. 
  • Sharp chest or lung pains. 

Who is at Risk 
Although anyone can develop pneumonia, there are certain risk factors that make contraction more likely. Very young children or people over the age of 65 are more susceptible to developing pneumonia. In fact, pneumonia is the second leading cause for hospitalization in older adults. People with compromised immune systems or who have illnesses such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease are more likely to contract pneumonia as well. Those who smoke, drink excess alcohol or have a poor diet are also more susceptible to developing pneumonia. 

What to Do if You’re Diagnosed 
If you suspect that you may have pneumonia or if you just aren’t feeling well, make an appointment to see your doctor right away. Your doctor will listen to your lungs and will also take a chest x-ray. If there are signs of infection, a blood test may be performed to determine exactly what has caused the infection. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or steroids to help your body heal and to prevent the infection from getting worse. Here are some other recommendations for what to do if you are diagnosed with pneumonia:

  • Get plenty of rest and be patient as it can take a long time to fully recover from pneumonia. 
  • Take hot, steamy baths or showers to loosen and break up mucus.
  • Consume plenty of fluids, including broth-based (not creamy) soups and hot tea or other warm beverages to help soothe and heal your throat. 
  • Use a humidifier to help break up secretions in the lungs. 
  • Don’t go out in public except when absolutely necessary, and try to avoid other people as much as possible as pneumonia is highly contagious. 

How to Avoid Contraction
There is no foolproof way to avoid developing a lung infection like pneumonia, but there are certain guidelines that can help reduce the risk of contraction:

  • Talk to your doctor about getting Pneumovax, a vaccine that can help prevent certain types of bacterial pneumonia. There are two types of the vaccine, and your doctor will know which one is right for you. 
  • Avoid people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently throughout the day, before and after eating and after using the restroom. Carry a small container of hand sanitizer with you in your purse or pocket for times when it is not practical to wash your hands.
  • Get plenty of rest and try to reduce stress levels. Lack of sleep and stress can lower immunity and make it difficult to fight off infections. 
  • Eat a well-balanced and varied diet comprised of nutrient-rich foods. Vitamins and nutrients can help boost immunity for fighting off bugs and viruses. 

Getting the right care and support in your daily life can help prevent illnesses and lead to a happier, healthier life. At Kyffin Grove, we take care of the needs of our residents, giving them more time to pursue whatever makes them most happy. We offer a range of personal care services from independent living to supportive care and memory care. To learn more about Kyffin Grove, schedule a tour today.