Most of us get sick at least once a year with a regular cold or flu. However, in some cases we get pneumonia or bronchitis, especially during the colder months. It is important that we understand the causes, symptoms and treatments involved and how we can take better care of ourselves and our loved ones.
Pneumonia is a lung infection that can make you very ill, but it usually clears up in 2 to 3 weeks. However, in certain cases, some adults, babies and patients with certain medical conditions may need to be hospitalized.
Pneumonia is caused by germs or viruses which you breathe into your lungs. Pneumonia can stem from a normal cold or flu as these germs that make it harder for your lungs to fight infection.
Pneumonia causes the following symptoms:
- Mucus which is usually green in colour and might contain blood
- Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
- Shaking or shivering
- Elevated heart rate
- Chest pain that gets worse when breathing
- Confusion or delirium is a common symptom in adults
If you feel like you are having a few of the above symptoms please contact you doctor.
Pneumonia can be bacterial or viral, the latter being the less serious of the two. The doctor will normally order a chest X-ray, blood tests and/or test the mucus in your lungs to assess whether you do in fact have pneumonia and if so, the severity.
If the pneumonia is being caused by bacteria, the doctor will most likely prescribe antibiotics. People usually see an improvement within 1 to 3 days after starting the medication. However, if is being caused by a virus, antibiotics will not likely be used, but instead the focus will be on getting enough rest, drinking lots of fluids and avoiding smoking in order to ensure a speedy recovery. The recovery period is usually longer for viral pneumonia and can range between 1 and 3 weeks.
Try to stay away from people who are sick and wash your hands regularly to avoid contracting unwanted bacteria.
Research has shown that pneumonia is closely associated with the following factors:
- People younger than 2 years of age and older than 65
- Heart disease
Please advise any friends or family to see a doctor if they experience these symptoms so that they can start their recovery process as soon as possible.
Bronchitis is another nasty infection that can cause you to feel ill and unable to partake in your usual daily activities.
What exactly is bronchitis, how can we treat it and how do we prevent it? Let’s take a look at the causes, symptoms and treatments below.
Bronchitis causes the bronchial tubes to become infected and swollen which causes a nasty cough and lot of mucus.
There are 2 common types of bronchitis, one being acute and the other chronic. Acute bronchitis is more common- the symptoms last for a few weeks and it does not usually lead to any other complications.
Chronic bronchitis is more serious as it keeps flaring up and in some cases does not go away at all.
As your body is attempting to fight off the germs, the bronchial tubes swell, which means there is less space for air to flow, thus making it harder to breathe.
The symptoms of bronchitis include:
- Chest congestion
- Coughing and mucus that is either white yellow or green
- Shortness of breath
- Wheezing sound when breathing
- Body aches and chills
- Low fever
- Runny nose and sore throat
The following factors increase your risk of getting bronchitis:
- A weak immune system or pre-existing chronic conditions
- Smoking or being around a smoker
- Working with chemicals or fumes
- Living in or travelling to places with poor air quality
Please consult your doctor if you have any of these symptoms, especially if the cough has been ongoing for more than 3 weeks. The doctor will usually diagnose whether it is bronchitis through a physical exam, blood tests and/or X-rays.
Try to ease your symptoms by drinking at least 8 to 12 glasses of water a day, which thins out mucus making it easier to cough up. Get plenty of rest and use pain medication for any discomfort. Using a steamer or humidifier as well as cough mixtures can help to loosen the mucus.
Try to stay away from smoke, or germs that may cause bronchitis or pneumonia. However, it is important to remember that even if you do get one of these infections, it can be treated. With the right amount of time and rest your body will recover and you will be as good as new. Take care this season and aim for a healthier you!