How to care for a patient facing pneumonia?
Treatment for pneumonia depends on multiple factors like the kind of pneumonia you have, what your symptoms are, your age, and whether you have other health conditions. The goals of treatment are to cure the infection and prevent complications. It is important to follow your treatment plan carefully until you are fully recovered.
Take the medications as prescribed by your doctor. If your pneumonia was caused by bacteria, you will be given an antibiotic for it. It is important to take your antibiotics as prescribed until it is gone, even though you will probably start to feel better in a couple of days. Stopping your medicine half way, you put yourself at risk of having the infection to come back, and be more resistant.
Typical antibiotics do not work against viruses. If you are suffering from viral pneumonia, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication to treat it. In other cases, symptom management and good rest are all that is needed.
Symptoms of pneumonia
The symptoms of pneumonia normally develop suddenly over 24 to 48 hours, or they may come on more slowly over several days.
Common symptoms of pneumonia include:
a cough – which may be dry, or produce thick yellow, green, brown or blood-stained mucus
your breathing may be rapid and shallow, and you may feel breathless, even when resting
feeling generally unwell
sweating and shivering
loss of appetite
chest pain – which gets worse when breathing or coughing
Less common symptoms include:
coughing up blood
headaches / fatigue
feeling sick / being sick
joint and muscle pain
feeling confused and disorientated, particularly in elderly people
What causes pneumonia
Pneumonia is usually the result of a bacterial infection. There are other kinds of pneumonia as well, that include:
viral pneumonia – caused by a virus
aspiration pneumonia – caused by breathing in vomit, a foreign object,
hospital-acquired pneumonia – pneumonia that develops in a hospital while being treated for another condition or having an operation
A doctor may be able to diagnose pneumonia by asking about your symptoms and examining your chest. Further tests may be required depending on patient to patient. Pneumonia can be difficult to diagnose because it shares many common symptoms with other conditions like the common cold, bronchitis and asthma.
A doctor may also take your temperature and listen to your chest and back with a stethoscope to check for any crackling or rattling sounds.
Lungs that are filled with fluid produce a different sound from normal healthy lungs. If you have mild pneumonia, you probably will not need to have a chest X-ray or any other tests.
You may need a chest X-ray or other tests, such as a sputum (mucus) test or blood tests, if your symptoms continue to not improve after 48 hours of starting treatment.
Treatment of pneumonia
Most people can manage their symptoms such as fever and cough at home by following these steps:
Drink plenty of fluids to help loosen secretions and bring up phlegm.
Do not take cough medicines without first talking to your doctor. Coughing is a way your body works to get rid of an infection.
Drink warm beverages, take steamy baths and use a humidifier to help open your airways and ease your breathing.
Stay away from smoke to let your lungs heal. This includes smoking, secondhand smoke and wood smoke.
Get lots of rest. You may need to stay in bed for a while.
If your pneumonia is severe and you need to be treated in the hospital, you may be given intravenous fluids and antibiotics and oxygen therapy.
It may take time to recover from pneumonia. Let's have a look at a general guide given by "National Health Services, UK"
As a general guide, after:
1 week – high temperature should have gone
4 weeks – chest pain and mucus production should have substantially reduced
6 weeks – cough and breathlessness should have substantially reduced
3 months – most symptoms should have resolved, but you may still feel very tired (fatigue)
6 months – most people will feel back to normal
When in recovery phase - try limiting your contact with family and friends, to help keep your germs from spreading to other people. Cover your mouth and nose each time you cough, dispose of tissues in a closed waste container and wash your hands often.
Possible Pneumonia Complications
Possible complications include:
Respiratory failure, which requires a breathing machine or ventilator.
Sepsis, a condition in which there is uncontrolled inflammation in the body
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a severe form of respiratory failure.
Lung abscesses, which are infrequent, but serious complications of pneumonia.
Follow-up after Pneumonia
The doctor will arrange a follow -up depending on your condition. In few cases, they may arrange follow-up tests, like a chest X-ray, if:
your symptoms have not improved
your symptoms have come back
you're over the age of 50