Pneumonia can be either viral or bacterial in origin; the distinction is important because the type of pneumonia determines what treatment options are available. Fortunately, the overall mortality rate from pneumonia has declined over time thanks to advances in treatment methods and improved patient care.
However, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take precautions to reduce our risk of contracting it in the first place. Read on to learn more about what causes pneumonia and how you can protect yourself against it.
What’s the difference between pneumonia and a cold?
A cold is a classic example of an upper respiratory tract infection and one that is caused by a virus. Pneumonia, on the other hand, is an infection of the lungs that can be caused by either a bacterial or viral infection.
You can reduce your risk of contracting pneumonia by washing your hands regularly, avoiding close contact with people who are sick and getting a vaccination against certain types of pneumonia if you are at risk.
When the body’s immune system is unable to fend off certain types of viruses, it can lead to symptoms of viral pneumonia. Symptoms of viral pneumonia include shortness of breath and coughing that doesn’t produce mucus.
Viral pneumonia is common in children and young adults, but anyone can get it. It’s also possible to contract viral pneumonia more than once. Viral pneumonia is most commonly caused by a number of different types of influenza viruses and cannot be treated with antibiotics.
If a doctor confirms that you have viral pneumonia, they will probably recommend plenty of rest, a healthy diet and possibly a steam humidifier. In serious cases, doctors may also recommend a course of steroids to reduce the severity of symptoms.
Most cases of viral pneumonia clear up without treatment in a few days but the sooner you get some rest and reduce your risk of spreading the virus, the quicker you’ll be back on your feet.
Bacterial pneumonia is an infection of the lungs caused by bacteria invading the tissue. Pneumonia from bacterial infections tends to be more common among older people and people with weakened immune systems.
Bacterial pneumonia can be triggered by a variety of different types of bacteria and symptoms vary depending on the type of bacteria that causes the infection. However, bacterial pneumonia is often accompanied by fever and shortness of breath.
Antibiotics are the standard treatment for bacterial pneumonia. There are several different types of antibiotics that can be used to treat bacterial pneumonia, depending on the specific microorganisms that are identified during testing.
Bacterial pneumonia is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. It can progress to a life-threatening situation if left untreated and can also lead to complications.
Pneumonia risk factors
The risk of developing pneumonia increases as we get older, due to a number of factors including declining immunity, changes in the lung tissue and reduced lung function.
Other high-risk groups for pneumonia include young children (particularly those under 2 years old), people with certain chronic medical conditions and people who are currently taking medications or have significant health issues.
Some people are at greater risk of developing pneumonia because they spend a lot of time in close, indoor environments such as those who work in healthcare or education. Other people are more likely to contract pneumonia because they have a weakened immune system.
There are ways to reduce the risk of developing pneumonia and these include getting vaccinated, washing your hands regularly, avoiding close contact with people who are sick and using a humidifier if you spend a lot of time indoors.
How to protect yourself from pneumonia
If you want to protect yourself from this serious lung infection, you should follow some basic preventative measures such as washing your hands regularly, getting vaccinated and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
You should also make sure to stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and reduce your stress levels. Finally, if you have a weakened immune system due to certain chronic medical conditions, it may be a good idea to take extra precautions such as using a humidifier, wearing a mask and staying away from people who are sick.
If you suspect that you have contracted pneumonia, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. You can reduce the severity of your symptoms by making sure that you rest, drink plenty of fluids and take prescribed medications as directed.
Pneumonia is a common and yet sometimes life-threatening infection of the lungs. It can be either viral or bacterial in origin.
The most effective way to protect yourself from contracting pneumonia is to follow basic preventative measures and following up with a doctor on the next steps. Remember, if you suspect that you have pneumonia, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.