Flu can end in pneumonia. If you have a cough, chest pain, and notice shortness of breath, see your doctor. Treating it as soon as possible is vital to avoid superinfections or relapses that can seriously harm your lungs.
Detecting it early is key to avoiding complications. The problem is that sometimes the symptoms are nonspecific and are confused with those typical of a cold or classic flu. Tiredness, fever, chills, chest pain when breathing or coughing, cough with phlegm. These are some signs that can alert you to the appearance of pneumonia.
Inflammation Affects The Lungs
Pneumonia occurs when the tissue in the lungs becomes inflamed from an infection. To understand how the disease works, the first thing you should know is that the lung has two main parts: the bronchi and the alveoli.
- The alveoli are shaped like small sacks and fill with air when breathing. They exchange oxygen (passes into the blood) and carbon dioxide (is expelled outside).
- In pneumonia, the alveoli in the lungs become inflamed and fill with pus and infectious fluid.
- If an infectious agent bypasses the barriers that protect your respiratory system (including coughing or sneezing) and reaches lung cells, your defenses react to cope with it. The alveoli then become inflamed and fill with pus and infectious fluid.
- Due to inflammation, oxygen does not pass into the blood correctly, symptoms such as fatigue appear, and breathing becomes difficult and even painful.
What Can Cause Pneumonia?
There are more than 100 types of microorganisms that can end up causing this disease.
- In adults, most pneumonia is caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae.
- It can also be triggered by some viruses, such as the flu or chickenpox, and even fungi, especially for people with a weakened immune system.
- Many times everything is due to a host of factors. Thus, a bacterial pneumonia can appear due to the bacteria itself or start with a virus that is then superinfected because a bacterium comes into play.
Is It Of Viral Or Bacterial Origin?
Some symptoms offer clues to the type of pneumonia:
- It usually starts abruptly, with a high fever, cough, and purulent expectoration.
- The clearest symptom is a dry cough, and a low-grade fever usually occurs. In this case, to avoid contagion, it is very important to wash your hands frequently.
How Do You Make The Diagnostic
In the face of a very bad cold or flu that has not just healed, you must go to the doctor to rule out that it is something more serious.
In view of the symptoms, after examination and auscultation, it will probably indicate that you have a chest x-ray to confirm the diagnosis and, if necessary, a blood test.
Through the X-ray image, the specialist will be able to determine if it is a viral or bacterial pneumonia. If the source is a bacterium, they will probably prescribe antibiotics to kill it.
The most common is that discomfort and fever begin to improve between three and five days after starting treatment. In most cases, a normal lifestyle can be restored after seven days, although fatigue and a persistent mild cough may last for a long time (one month or even longer).
Although many times it responds well to treatment, sometimes the infection can be complicated and have very serious consequences.
- Pleural effusion. It occurs when fluid builds up between the thin membrane that surrounds the lungs (the pleura) and the inner wall of the rib cage.
- Abscess. The pus found in the alveoli becomes cystic. In general, antibiotic treatment should be prolonged.
- Generalized infection. In the most severe cases, the infection passes into the blood and can lead to really severe complications, such as meningitis.
Care For The Elderly
People over 65, children under 5, people with a weak immune system, and smokers are groups with a greater tendency to suffer pneumonia and, once cured, the risk of relapse is higher.
Many over 65s must re-enter the hospital within 30 days of discharge. Re-entry is normally due to a worsening of a previous disease or the appearance of a new pathology.
Factors that can lead to relapse are: living with a person under the age of 15, having made more than three visits to the hospital in the three months prior to admission, suffering from chronic respiratory failure, heart failure, or chronic liver disease.
Increase Your Lung Capacity
Respiratory physical therapy is very useful to prevent and treat problems of the respiratory system. It includes both techniques that these specialists apply and exercises that we can do at home.
- In pneumonia, when the alveoli in the lungs are filled with pus, the lungs become saturated with secretions, respiratory physiotherapy can help to eliminate them, as well as keeping the airways open and improving the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
- Doing a series of deep breaths several times a day can help you mobilize your lungs to regain their capacity.
- It is in your best interest to be consistent until your body completely removes all remnants of the infection. And, once overcome, maintaining the breathing routine will help you improve your lung capacity and prevent relapses.