As we age, our bodies become more and more susceptible to dealing with certain illnesses and problems such as pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air pockets of the lungs, they can become filled with fluid or pus and can cause serious coughing fits.
Pneumonia can range in seriousness from mild to life-threatening. It is most serious for younger children and people older than 65. In fact, the mortality rate for seniors with pneumonia is high.
What Is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a breathing and respiratory condition caused by an infection in the lung. It is a common illness that affects millions of people each year in the United States. Bacteria is the most common cause of pneumonia, however, there are other ways, like chronic illness, in which someone may be affected by pneumonia.
This bacteria can get to you in several ways including:
- This bacteria can be living in your nose, sinuses, or mouth and can spread to your lungs
- You can breathe these germs directly into your lungs
- You can inhale foods, liquids, vomit, or fluids from the mouth into the lungs
Pneumonia can also be caused by several other reasons including fungi and viruses. Pneumonia caused by fungi is most common among people with chronic health problems and weakened immune systems.
There are a number of risk factors that can increase your chances of being affected by pneumonia. Some of these risk factors include:
- Chronic lung disease
- Cigarette smoking
- Problems with the immune system
Some of the most common symptoms of pneumonia include:
- Shortness of breath
- Excess sweating and clammy skin
- Headaches and more
These are just some of the many symptoms that you may be affected by if you have pneumonia. Unfortunately, for senior citizens, these symptoms may get worse and other problems can develop as seniors deal with a weakened immune system.
Preventing and Treating Pneumonia
While pneumonia is a serious issue, especially for seniors, there are prevention strategies and treatment methods you can use to reduce your chances of being affected by pneumonia.
There are a number of different ways that you can prevent pneumonia one of the most obvious and effective ways you can do this is to get vaccinated. Getting a flu shot each year is helpful in preventing seasonal influenza. However, the flu is a common cause of pneumonia, so getting a flu shot is a good way to kill two birds with one stone and reduce your chances of dealing with pneumonia.
Along with getting a shot, there are a number of other simple lifestyle changes that you can make to improve your chances of not being affected by pneumonia. One simple way you can achieve this is by washing your hands frequently. Especially after blowing your nose, using the restroom, eating, and more. Washing your hands will help prevent bacteria from spreading.
As mentioned before, smoking and tobacco can lead to damage that affects the lung’s ability to fight off infection. Smokers have been found to be at a higher risk of getting pneumonia, and many smokers are encouraged to get the pneumococcal vaccine.
While there are many things that you can do to prevent pneumonia, some people will still inevitably deal with it. Luckily, there are treatment plans and methods to help those who are dealing with the issue.
Medication is commonly used to help those who have pneumonia. If pneumonia is caused by bacteria, you will likely be given an antibiotic
Unfortunately, for seniors, the problem is more difficult to treat as it can involve multiple organs. It can be serious and progress rapidly, often leading to a high mortality rate.
It should be noted that even with treatment, high-risk groups, like seniors, may experience harmful and dangerous complications. Complications that can occur include:
Bacteria in the blood — Bacteria in the blood, called bacteremia, occurs when the bacteria enter the bloodstream from your lungs can spread the infection to other parts of the body, including the organs. This can cause organ failure.
Difficulty breathing — Because pneumonia is an issue that affects the respiratory system, I can cause issues with breathing. If the problem becomes serious enough, it can lead to hospitalization and require the help of a breathing machine while the lungs heal.
Fluid accumulation in the lungs — This condition, referred to as pleural effusion, can cause build up in the space between the tissue layers in the lungs and chest cavity. If the fluid buildup continues it can cause infection and may require help to have it drained or removed with surgery.
Lung abscess — Lung abscess occurs when pus forms in cavities in the lungs. An abscess is usually treated with antibiotics but sometimes requires the help of surgery or drainage to remove the pus.
These are some of the complications that can occur in older individuals. Unfortunately, some of these issues may interfere with a senior’s ability to safely get through day-to-day tasks and may even require the assistance of a caregiver or an assisted living facility.
While searching for an assisted living facility in Hobbs may seem strange and unnecessary, they can be helpful and even life-saving in some cases, like when a loved one has pneumonia. There are a number of assisted living facilities out there that are dedicated to providing quality care for your loved one. Landmark Senior Living is one of those facilities. Landmark has the tools and capabilities to provide your loved one with the time and care that they need to stay healthy during this chapter of their lives.
Landmark provides several different care services that can help seniors who deal with certain specific health problems. For instance, memory care is one of Landmark’s strengths, it is meant to provide those dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia with the care that they need. If you are interested in learning more about Landmark and what we can offer, please visit our website and reach out to schedule a complimentary walkthrough of one of our facilities.