The Flu's Uglier Cousin
It starts off as just an unfortunate case of the flu, but instead of feeling better you start to feel worse. You have violent chills and break out in a cold sweat. Your chest aches with pain each time you cough. Your fever keeps climbing and climbing. 100. 101. It spikes. 104. You feel hot and cold all at the same time, and you didn’t even know that was possible. You can barely breathe.
What’s wrong with you?
Pneumonia, an infection in one or both of your lungs, can be caused by several different viruses, fungi, and bacteria. RSV and the flu are the most common cause of viral pneumonia in the US. When the infection,reaches the lungs, it causes inflammation. When your alveoli—the air sacs in your lungs that control gas exchange in the human body—become inflamed, they fill with fluid. This can make it hard for your lungs to deliver oxygen to your blood.
Recovery can take anywhere between one and three weeks, depending on the severity of the case and the age of the infected person. It can be fatal in some cases, especially in the young and the elderly. There are several different treatments for pneumonia as treatment depends on what caused the infection. Even though there are various causes, the symptoms for pneumonia are usually the same across the board.
-A high fever
-Chills and sweating
-A wet cough
-Shortness of breath
-Chest pain when you breathe or cough
-Loss of appetite
-Disorientation (especially in the elderly)
Symptoms do vary by demographic, though. The elderly and infants might not display many of these symptoms after contracting pneumonia. These two demographics have are more likely to develop pneumonia, and are more at risk of dying from the illness than any other group. People who smoke or were recently sick also have an elevated risk of developing pneumonia. If you have a weakened immune system and a chronic disease, you may have a higher chance of developing pneumonia when you are sick.
Pneumonia is a very serious illness, and can often be fatal. Even if a sufferer of pneumonia doesn’t die from the illness, it can still cause several complications. These include respiratory failure, renal failure, sepsis, and lung abscesses.
There are a few ways to avoid contracting pneumonia. You can get vaccinated against the flu, an illnesses pneumonia often develops from. You should take germ-preventative measures such as washing your hands, disinfecting high-traffic areas, staying home when sick, and being careful to cough into your elbow rather than your hand. Though it may be difficult, if you are a smoker you may want to stop smoking. The particles inhaled when you smoke can irritate your lungs and potentially cause pneumonia.
If you think you may have pneumonia, or if you develop a fever, visit your neighborhood HealthCARE Express. We’ll get you back on track to feeling great.