How Can Walking Pneumonia Be Prevented
Unfortunately, no vaccines are available to prevent walking pneumonia caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Even if you have recovered from walking pneumonia, you will not become immune, so it is possible to become infected again in the future.
Tips for preventing walking pneumonia include:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. If a tissue isnt available, sneeze or cough into the inside of your elbow or sleeve. Never sneeze or cough into your hands. Place used tissues into a waste basket.
- Wash your hands often with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Wear a mask around sick people if you have respiratory conditions or other chronic health conditions that would make getting pneumonia even riskier for you.
- Get your annual Influenza shot. Bacterial pneumonia can develop after a case of the flu.
- Ask your doctor about the pneumococcal vaccine. Two types of vaccines are available, Prevnar 13® and Pneumovax 23®. Each vaccine is recommended for people at different age points or who are at increased risk for pneumococcal disease, including pneumonia.
Preventing The Spread Of Pneumonia
You can help prevent the spread of a pneumonia by taking some simple hygiene precautions.
- washing your hands regularly and thoroughly, particularly after touching your nose and mouth, and before handling food
- coughing and sneezing into a tissue, then throwing it away immediately and washing your hands
- not sharing cups or kitchen utensils with others
Facts You Should Know About Viral Pneumonia
- Pneumonia is an infection or inflammation of the lungs. It can be in just one part of the lungs, or it can involve many parts.
- Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms.
- The severity of pneumonia depends on which organism is causing the infection and the immune response of the individual to that infection.
- The deadly pandemic COVID-19 coronavirus causes severe lung symptoms including pneumonia in about 16%-20% of the people who contract it. Five percent of those with severe symptoms need a ventilator to breathe, as of March 2020.
- Viral pneumonias other than the one caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 are usually not very serious, but they can be life-threatening in very old and very young patients and in people whose immune systems are weak.
- Another two of the most publicized viral infections causing pneumonia are SARS and H1N1swine flu. Severe acute respiratory syndrome , which is also caused by a virus in the coronavirus family, had a major outbreak in 2003 with an estimated 8,000 cases and 750 deaths.
- Swine flu was associated with an outbreak of pneumonia in 2009. Early reports came from cases in Mexico, with very high mortality. Many cases were also reported in the U.S. However, early identification and treatment helped reduce the death rate significantly.
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When Will Your Child Be Fully Recovered
Although you might think that your child is fully recovered once the symptoms go away, the effects of pneumonia can actually last longer. Children can still feel weak and tired for a while after the infection is gone. Their bodies have worked so hard to clear the infection that they may need some time to get back to normal. You should expect it to take around 6-8 weeks for your child to feel back to normal.
Pneumonia can also have some longer term effects on the lungs. Some children will continue to cough for a while after the infection has gone. Sometimes this is because there is still some lingering mucus or debris they need to cough up. However, it can also be a habit.
If your child never coughs in their sleep or when theyre focusing on something else, then it could be a habit cough. Children are simply so used to coughing that they keep doing it. Its important to realise theyre not doing this on purpose and arent usually aware of whats happening. An experienced doctor can work with your child to overcome this habit in a sensitive manner.
Other effects on the lungs can also last for a while after your child has recovered from pneumonia. Your child might occasionally wheeze or feel breathless. It isnt usually a sign of anything serious, but its a good idea to check with your doctor if youre worried.
How Long Youll Take Them
A course of antibiotics for uncomplicated pneumonia treatment is usually for five to seven days. One course will usually be enough to cure your pneumonia. In some cases, you may need more than one course of antibiotics if your infection doesnt start improving or it seems like its not responding to the medications.
Stay in touch with your doctor to ensure your infection is clearing up. Youll likely start to feel better and have some symptom relief one to three days after you start your pneumonia treatment, but it may take a week or more for your symptoms to go away completely.
Taking your medication as prescribed, especially for antibiotics, is incredibly important. Even if youre feeling better, you need to take the entire course.
Do not stop taking antibiotics early, even if your symptoms improve, as the infection would not be fully treated and could become antibiotic-resistant. This will make treatment more complicated. If youre experiencing side effects, talk to your doctor. Only stop your medication if your doctor tells you its OK to do so.
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Can The Pneumonia Vaccine Prevent Pneumonia
It is not possible to prevent all types of pneumonia, but one can take steps to reduce the chance of contracting the condition by quitting smoking, practicing good hand-washing, and avoiding contact with people who have colds, the flu, or other infections.
A vaccine is available against the most common bacterial cause of pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae . There are two types of vaccine: PPSV23 , a pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine against 23 types of the bacteria, and PCV13 , a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine that protects against 13 types of the bacteria. These vaccines may not always prevent pneumococcal pneumonia, but they may prevent serious complications of pneumonia if it does occur.
Avoidance of areas where fungal pathogens are endemic is recommended to prevent fungal pneumonia. There is no antifungal vaccine available however, for some high-risk patients, some doctors have recommended prophylactic antifungal drugs.
Pneumonia Recovery: Helpful Tips
Getting adequate rest, managing symptoms, staying hydrated and eating properly can help promote a quicker recovery from pneumonia. In some cases, breathing exercises taught by a respiratory therapist can aid in healing and recovery. Stopping smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke will also help speed recovery.
Taking antibiotics as directed for as long as directed can also help prevent relapse if the pneumonia is caused by bacteria. Not completing a course of antibiotics can also increase chances of developing antibiotic resistance if you need to take this type of antibiotic again in the future, so its important to finish medication as directed. Note that a cough may persist for up to 3 weeks after finishing antibiotics.
A chest X-ray following the completion of antibiotics can help determine if the lung infection has cleared up.
If pneumonia is caused by a virus or fungal infection, other medications are needed.
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Is Walking Pneumonia Contagious If So How Is It Spread And Who Is Most At Risk
Yes, walking pneumonia caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae is contagious . When an infected person coughs or sneezes, tiny droplets containing the bacteria become airborne and can be inhaled by others who are nearby.
The infection can be easily spread in crowded or shared living spaces such as homes, schools, dormitories and nursing homes. It tends to affect younger adults and school-aged children more than older adults.
The risk of getting more severe pneumonia is even higher among those who have existing respiratory conditions such as:
The symptoms of walking pneumonia may come on slowly, beginning one to four weeks after exposure. During the later stages of the illness, symptoms may worsen, the fever may become higher, and coughing may bring up discolored phlegm .
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When To See A Doctor
If you have been sick with what seems like a cold or the flu without improvement for 5-7 days, check in with your doctor.
This could be a sign that you have pneumonia or have developed a secondary infection.
If you have a compromised immune system, are over age 65, or have other medical problems, call your doctor sooner.
Children who have symptoms of pneumonia should be seen by their pediatrician right away, since they may not display common signs of pneumonia, even if they are very ill.
Severe Or Complicated Pneumonia
As you move into the red or gray hepatization phases of pneumonia, you may need to be treated with intravenous antibiotics or fluids. You may also require supplemental oxygen.
Medications used in more severe cases of pneumonia requiring inpatient care usually include formulas that combine more than one type of antibiotic, such as:
Viral pneumonia caused by influenza may also require the use of oseltamivir, an antiviral medication, which is predominantly used to shorten the course of viral pneumonia.
In severe cases, you may also need direct drainage of fluids from your lungs with a chest tube.
You will be observed closely for any complications if you have other health conditions like:
- kidney disease
- other lung conditions
People with other conditions are more likely to have pneumonia that progresses to or multi-organ failure and even death.
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Who Is Most At Risk For Getting Pneumonia
People who have an increased risk of pneumonia include:
- People over the age of 65 and infants under age 2. The weakening immune system of older people makes them less able to fight off illnesses. Similarly, the immune system of infants is still developing and not at full-strength, making them more susceptible to infection.
- People with a health-caused weakened immune system. Examples include:
- People who are receiving chemotherapy
- Transplanted organ recipients
- People who have HIV/AIDS
- People with autoimmune disease and who are taking medications that suppress the immune system.
Going To The Hospital
If you have severe pneumonia, you may have to go to the hospital:
- In most cases of pneumonia you get in your daily life, such as at school or work , it is not necessary to go to the hospital.footnote 2
- About one-third of people with community-based pneumonia are age 65 or older.footnote 2 Older adults are treated in the hospital more often and stay longer for the condition than younger people.footnote 2 Pneumonia is more serious in this group, because they often have and may develop other medical problems.
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When Would I Need To Be Hospitalized For Pneumonia
If your case of pneumonia is more severe, you may need tostay in the hospital for treatment. Hospital treatments may include:
- Fluids, antibiotics and other medicines given through an IV
- Breathing treatments and exercises to help loosen mucus
People most likely to be hospitalized are those who are most frail and/or at increased risk, including:
- Babies and young children
- People with weakened immune systems
- People with health conditions that affect the heart and lungs
It may take six to eight weeks to return to a normal level of functioning and well-being if youve been hospitalized with pneumonia.
How Long Is Pneumonia Contagious
It is impossible to say with certainty exactly how long an adult or child with pneumonia is contagious since this varies according to the type of germ or organism that caused pneumonia. This contagious period can range from one to two days to weeks. In general, while an infected person is coughing or sneezing, there is the potential to release contaminated droplets into the air.
Many bacterial types of pneumonia are much less contagious after antibiotics have been taken for about 24-48 hours. However, this time period may vary for some organisms. For example, with tuberculosis, it can take two weeks or more of antibiotics before the person is no longer contagious. With viral pneumonia, the patient becomes less contagious after the symptoms have improved, especially fever. Some people with viral pneumonia may not be contagious after one to two days with no fever, but others may still shed some infectious virus particles for a much longer time.
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What To Expect At Home
You will still have symptoms of pneumonia after you leave the hospital.
- Your cough will slowly get better over 7 to 14 days.
- Sleeping and eating may take up to a week to return to normal.
- Your energy level may take 2 weeks or more to return to normal.
You will need to take time off work. For a while, you might not be able to do other things that you are used to doing.
Are Side Effects Associated With The Pneumonia Vaccine
Side effects of PCV13 in children include drowsiness, temporary loss of appetite, redness, swelling, or tenderness where the shot was given. Mild fever and irritability are other common side effects. Adults receiving pneumococcal vaccines have reported pain, redness, rash, and swelling where the shot was given also mild fever, fatigue, headache, chills, or muscle pain.
Any type of vaccine has the potential to cause an allergic reaction, which can be severe, but this side effect is rare. This would happen within minutes to a few hours after receiving the vaccine.
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What Can I Do To Feel Better If I Have Pneumonia
- Finish all medications and therapies prescribed by your doctor. Do not stop taking antibiotics when you start feeling better. Continue taking them until no pills remain. If you dont take all your antibiotics, your pneumonia may come back.
- If over-the-counter medicines to reduce fever have been recommended , take as directed on the label. Never give aspirin to children.
- Drink plenty of fluids to help loosen phlegm.
- Quit smoking if you smoke. Dont be around others who smoke or vape. Surround yourself with as much clean, chemical-free air as possible.
- Use a humidifier, take a steamy shower or bath to make it easier for you to breathe.
- Get lots of rest. Dont rush your recovery. It can take weeks to get your full strength back.
If at any time you start to feel worse, call your doctor right away.
Early Stage Of Pneumonia
The symptoms of the first stage of pneumonia, or what you might expect in the first 24 hours, are very important to understand. When pneumonia is detected at this stage, and promptly treated, the severity of the disease and potential complications may be reduced.
Most commonly, lobar pneumonia begins suddenly with fairly dramatic symptoms.
With pneumonia , the tiniest airways of the lungs are affected. Since this is where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place , pneumonia may cause symptoms related to lower oxygen levels in the body. In addition, lobar pneumonia often extends to the membranes surrounding the lungs , which can lead to particular symptoms.
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How Do The Lungs Work
Your lungs main job is to get oxygen into your blood and remove carbon dioxide. This happens during breathing. You breathe 12 to 20 times per minute when you are not sick. When you breathe in, air travels down the back of your throat and passes through your voice box and into your windpipe . Your trachea splits into two air passages . One bronchial tube leads to the left lung, the other to the right lung. For the lungs to perform their best, the airways need to be open as you breathe in and out. Swelling and mucus can make it harder to move air through the airways, making it harder to breathe. This leads to shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and feeling more tired than normal.
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How Many Pneumonia Vaccines Do You Need
PCV13 or Prevnar 13, is currently recommended for all children younger than 2 years of age, all adults 65 years of age or older, and people 2-64 years of age with certain medical conditions.
PPSV23 is currently recommended for all adults 65 years of age or older and for people who are 2 years of age or older and at high risk for pneumococcal disease . PPSV23 is also recommended for use in adults 19-64 years of age who smoke cigarettes.
Some people may be recommended to receive both the PCV13 and PPSV23 vaccines. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two pneumococcal vaccines for all adults 65 years or older. The PCV13 and PPSV23 should not be given at the same time. When both vaccines are recommended, a dose of the PCV13 should be given first, followed by a dose of PPSV23 at another visit to a health care provider.
Seasonal influenza vaccines are available yearly and are recommended to decrease the chance of contracting influenza. Vaccines against the measles virus and varicella virus, two viruses that can also cause pneumonia, are also available. The common side effects of these vaccines are similar to those listed below for the pneumonia vaccine.
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