Pneumonia is a lung infection that can be particularly dangerous, especially for the elderly. Though most people can receive treatment at home within a few weeks, the elderly often have to go to the hospital. If your elderly loved one catches this illness it is important to get them help as soon as possible. This illness, if untreated, can lead to many other health complications for your loved one.
A person could get this illness in a variety of ways. Your loved one might get community-associated pneumonia. This can get picked up anywhere and under pretty much any circumstances. This means it is important to practice good hygiene and wash your hands often. Another way to get this illness is through a nursing home or hospital. This is often referred to as healthcare-associated pneumonia. This type of pneumonia can be even more dangerous because the resident is already ill in most cases. This illness can weaken them even more.
Pneumonia symptoms often happen suddenly. Again, this illness can be dangerous for the elderly. If your loved one develops any of these symptoms, it is vital to get them checked out by a doctor as soon as possible.
- Cough. This might be a wet cough, meaning that it will contain mucus which your lungs are trying to remove.
- Fever. This can make an elderly person feel especially weak.
- Fast breathing/shortness of breath. Having difficulty breathing is a classic sign of this illness. It may feel as though you’re not taking in enough oxygen.
- Rapid heartbeat. Your heart will have to work harder if mucus is affecting your lungs.
- Fatigue/weakness. Pneumonia can make people feel rundown and sluggish, especially if they are elderly.
- Nausea. The feeling that you may vomit can be uncomfortable.
- Diarrhea/vomiting. This can make your loved one feel even worse.
You may be wondering why elderly people are at a higher risk for a serious case of pneumonia than young adults. There are many factors that contribute to this. Some of the most common answers include:
- Weakened Immune Systems. An elderly person’s weakened immune system makes it harder for them to fight off infections.
- Chemotherapy. This cancer treatment can weaken the immune system.
- Senior Health Conditions. Seniors oftentimes have many other ailments that effect their health. These ailments make them more vulnerable to pneumonia. (Lung conditions such as cystic fibrosis or asthma may make pneumonia much worse).
- Surgery. Getting surgery may enhance the risk for pneumonia.
Pneumonia can be handled in several ways. A doctor may make a recommendation based on what will best suit your loved one’s needs. A doctor will probably first make sure that your loved one has this illness. This is done through a blood test or chest x-ray. Treatments vary as followed:
- Antiviral medication. This will be used if your loved one has a severe bacterial infection.
- At home treatment. This type of treatment is generally for milder cases of pneumonia.
It is important to know how to treat pneumonia and what to do if you suspect your loved one has this illness. But, what about prevention? Is there any way to prevent this illness in your loved one? The truth is there’s no way to prevent this illness. Still, there are steps that can be taken to lessen the chances of your loved one contracting it.
- Vaccination. This vaccine is pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. This is also known as PCV. Those over the age of 65 should receive this vaccine.
- Stop smoking. Smoking enhances your loved one’s chances of contracting this illness.
- Choose your company carefully. Stay away from those who have pneumonia or other respiratory tract infections. This can help lessen your loved one’s chances of contracting it.
- Practice good hygiene. Encourage your loved one to wash their hands with soap often to help prevent this illness.
If you’re concerned about your loved one contracting this illness, don’t panic. This illness can be taken care of and treated effectively when caught early on. While there is no sure way to prevent this illness in the elderly, your loved one can take precautions. These precautions can reduce their chances of catching this illness. But, in the event that your loved one does get pneumonia-like symptoms, contact a doctor.