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Pneumonia is a lung disease which can be mild to severe. Although pneumonia can occur in anyone, it occurs with increased frequency in individuals whose immune systems are deficient, in children, and in elderly people, who are more prone to this. Pneumonia can be seen without any symptoms, which is called walking pneumonia. Possible causes of Pneumonia are bacteria, viruses, mycoplasmas, fungi, and infected foreign material can all cause Pneumonia. It is possible for Pneumonia to be transmitted when airborne germs from an afflicted individual are breathed in by anyone else.
Even with ever-growing healthcare programs and an increased focus on health, many people across different walks and stages of life are at risk of Pneumonia. The following are a few of the most commonly seen risk factors for Pneumonia, as seen in patients:
1. Viral infections (damaged cilia which will fail to clear the secretions)
2. Age (elderly patients face issues in swallowing, and decreased immunity)
3. Alcoholism (depress coughing and epiglottis function)
4. Patients who smoke or have underlying lung diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, congestive heart failure, lung cancer, and diabetes are also vulnerable, owing to abnormalities in lung structure and function.
5. Cold weather - Dry mucous membranes and person-to-person spread is common in Winter
6. Immunocompromised patients are always at risk
7. Hospital-acquired Pneumonia is also common
Pneumonia symptoms may present themselves suddenly, or in a slow and progressive manner. In most cases, the symptoms of Pneumonia mimic that of the common flu (Influenza) or other common lung infections, such as Bronchitis.
The main signs and symptoms of pneumonia are as follows:
Your primary care physician would take the following steps to diagnose Pneumonia
Treatment always depends on the cause. If you have bacterial pneumonia, you’ll get antibiotics. In most cases, Pneumonia caused by viral strains does not require antibiotics. Antiviral medicines are prescribed instead. Recovery from Pneumonia typically takes one to three weeks. Symptoms such as body pain, fever and cough can be alleviated with medications, adequate rest, a nutritious diet and intake of plenty of fluids to improve overall health. Hospitalization and Oxygen (O2) therapy are advised in certain critical conditions.
Although it is fairly difficult to prevent the occurrence of Pneumonia completely, a variety of parameters and steps can be used to reduce its incidence. Adequate nutrition, dental hygiene, maintaining hygiene such as washing hands frequently and thoroughly after blowing one's nose, going to the bathroom, and before eating, and not smoking - are elements of a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle that can help reduce people’s risk of contracting Pneumonia. Staying away from individuals who are sick, wearing a mask when cleaning dusty areas, and getting vaccinated against pneumonia such as the flu shot will also help. Treatment of the underlying cause is always important to prevent relapse.
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