Pneumonia is an infection which causes the air sacs in the lungs to become inflamed and on occasion to fill with fluid. As a result, patients experience difficulty breathing and blood oxygen levels drop. Although pneumonia is most commonly caused by bacteria, the condition can, in fact, be induced by more than 30 different organisms, including fungi, parasites, and viruses. Irrespective of the underlying cause, pneumonia in elderly people represents a greater challenge than it does to any other age group. It is strongly recommended to call a physician or book an online appointment for proper treatment before the pneumonia in elderly gets more complicated.
Among elderly patients, it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate those symptoms which specifically indicate pneumonia from those pointing to entirely separate disorders. For example, confusion is symptomatic of both pneumonia and dementia, while coughing and wheezing could suggest the presence of a cold or flu just as easily as pneumonia.
The sudden appearance of cold sores may signal that an elderly person’s immune system is under stress due to pneumonia and unable to adequately defend itself as a result. Similarly, increased levels of fatigue may result when the body expends a lot of energy attempting to combat an infection such as pneumonia.
If an elderly person develops an elevated fever which persists for longer than 24 hours, professional medical advice should be sought as once again it could be symptomatic of pneumonia.
Breathing difficulties are a common indicator of pneumonia. In this regard, panting can suggest the presence of fluid on the lungs, while the appearance of a bluish tinge on lips or nails, known as cyanosis, can suggest that a patient is struggling with depleted oxygen levels. On a related note, repeated bouts of coughing can cause chest or rib pain to develop.
As a first step, it is likely that a medical professional will seek to confirm any diagnosis of pneumonia by conducting either a CT scan or an x-ray.
When the nature of the infection has been confirmed, the central plank of any pneumonia treatment plan remains the same irrespective of whether the infection is viral or bacterial in nature. Such a treatment plan dictates that the patient should consume nutrient-rich food, significantly increase their fluid intake, and get lots of rest. However, treatment plans do diverge in terms of medications. In this regard, whereas bacterial pneumonia will be treated using antibiotics, viral pneumonia will be treated using antiviral medications.
In severe cases, a patient may be intubated and placed on a respirator.
While, the most clear-cut way to avoid infection is to seek vaccination, there are also a number of other preventive measures which an individual can take. Firstly, since the presence of mildew, dust, or mold increases the risk of pneumonia it’s important to maintain a clean household. Secondly, since infected teeth are susceptible to the pneumonia infection, upholding high standards of oral hygiene can help reduce the chance of contracting pneumonia. Thirdly, by adopting a healthy lifestyle and by avoiding vices such as alcohol or cigarettes an elderly person can strengthen their immune system and thus lower the chance of infection. Finally, given that pneumonia is frequently spread by contact, hand washing is also a critical and worthwhile preventive measure.
In comparison to any other age group pneumonia in elderly people represents a greater risk due to the fact that immune systems become weaker over time. Moreover, such immuno-deficiencies can be exacerbated by the presence of other chronic conditions. As a consequence, it’s important to remain vigilant to any potential symptoms and to abide by preventive measures as closely as is possible.