The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute defines pneumonia as “a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection of one or both sides of the lungs,” which causes their air sacs to fill with fluid or pus. It may surprise you to know that pneumonia symptoms can be relatively mild in most cases; however, it is important to recognize the possible dangers than pneumonia does present.
Like many diseases, pneumonia hits young children and the elderly the hardest. Even now, the American Thoracic Society reports that pneumonia remains the world’s leading cause of death for children under the age of five, claiming a whopping 16% of the total. What’s more, pneumonia is the leading cause of all hospital admissions in the United States, with the singular exception of women giving birth.
The symptoms of pneumonia can vary widely based on the originating cause. However, there are a few core symptoms to watch out for.
- A persistent cough that produces phlegm
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain when breathing or coughing
- High fever
The NIH warns that infants may not always show these pneumonia symptoms. If your baby appears restless or overly tired, watch for vomiting, coughing, and/or fever. If these symptoms coincide at all, speak with your pediatrician immediately.
Can Pneumonia be Prevented?
Fortunately, some common causes of pneumonia can be prevented. Harvard Medical reports that your annual flu shot is your strongest ally in keeping pneumonia at bay. By receiving your annual influenza shot, you’ll be protected against the most virulent strands of flu circulating that year. All of these could potentially lead to pneumonia.
When protecting yourself against the flu, you increase the average immunity of your community, which extends a level of protection to infants and people with compromised immune systems. In short, you can’t protect against pneumonia 100%, but you can definitely protect against some of the most likely candidates, and the choice won’t just benefit you but everyone you come into contact with.
In addition to making sure you get your annual flu shot, don’t forget to stay hydrated and maintain a healthy diet. Both of these choices will help to boost your immune system, keeping viruses, bacteria, and fungi at bay.
The great news is that most cases of pneumonia never get severe enough to warrant hospitalization. However, you should definitely see your NYC pulmonologist, as an antibiotic, an antiviral, or an antifungal will have to be carefully selected based on your case. That being said, medicine can always use a helping hand, so here are the fastest ways to cure pneumonia.
- Go to your doctor sooner rather than later.
If you begin to feel worse after recovering from a cold or flu, experience extended symptoms, or experience worsening symptoms, then it is better to see your doctor as soon as possible. It may still just be a nasty virus, but if it is pneumonia, then you’ll be in far better shape than if you waited.
- Follow all instructions.
If your doctor gives you a medication, then follow those instructions religiously. Even if you feel better, ALWAYS finish the entire course of medication. In addition, you can use anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen to regulate fever, but you should avoid cough syrups unless your doctor says otherwise.
- Take every opportunity to ease your breathing.
Use steaming hot beverages and showers to help open your airways and calm your breathing. Medical News Today’s professionally-reviewed article cites that warm, moist air actually helps to loosen mucus inside your lungs and airways, providing immediate relief with long-term benefits to your recovery.
- Get plenty of rest.
The American College of Healthcare Sciences suggests adding at least an hour to your normal sleeping schedule when you’re sick in addition to a few naps throughout the day. The extra sleep gives your body a chance to rest a lot of your waking functions and give it a chance to focus on recovery.
What to do When it’s Serious?
In an emergency situation, do not hesitate to call emergency services. You should especially edge on the side of caution with at-risk groups such as young children. Once the patient is stable, speak to a pulmonologist about what to do next. Dr. Mayank Shukla specializes in pediatric pulmonology, and he’ll be able to help you get your little one playing again in no time. To learn more about managing pneumonia symptoms, contact Dr. Shukla.