Understanding Pneumonia: Symptoms, Management, And Its Relation To COVID-19
COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, that can spread to the lungs, and apart from other respiratory ailments it can cause pneumonia. Read here to know about causes, symptoms and management.
In COVID-19 pneumonia, the patient experiences no or very less sputum production
- Treatment of pneumonia depends on the type of pneumonia you have
- Keep the body hydrated with fluids as it helps loosen secretions
- Have warm drinks, take steamy baths and use a humidifier to open airways
Pneumonia is a form of acute respiratory infection impacting the lungs. The lungs are made up of small sacs called alveoli, which fill with air when a healthy person breathes. When an individual has pneumonia, the alveoli is filled with pus and fluid, which makes breathing painful and limits oxygen intake. It can be caused by either fungal, viral or bacterial infections.
Symptoms of pneumonia range from mild to life threatening, and they can manifest
- Cough that produces mucus
- Fever, followed by sweating and chills
- Shortness of breath, frequent panting even after doing basic activities
- Chest pain that gets worse while breathing and coughing
- Nausea and vomiting, followed by loss of appetite
- Tips to manage pneumonia and prevent it from getting worse
Treatment of pneumonia depends on the type of pneumonia you have, how sick you are feeling, your age, and whether you have any other health conditions. The goal of treatment is to cure the infection and prevent complications.
If pneumonia is caused by bacteria an antibiotic course is prescribed, that you need to strictly follow. On the other hand, if you have viral pneumonia, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication to treat it. Sometimes, though, symptom management and adequate bedrest is all that is needed.
Whenever you experience symptoms of pneumonia, it is essential to visit a doctor get blood tests done with proper evaluation. Depending on the severity of the condition the doctor can then advise whether the patient needs hospitalization of the condition can be managed at home with medication.
While getting medical consultation is essential, pneumonia can be managed at home along with prescribed medications:
- Keep your fever in control- the medications help in felicitating this
- Keep the body hydrated with fluids as it helps loosen secretions and bring up phlegm.
- Coughing is one way your body works to get rid of an infection hence consult a doctor before taking any medications to stop it
- Have warm drinks, take steamy baths and use a humidifier to help open your airways and ease your breathing
- Stay away from any kind of smoke so that the lungs can heal. This includes either quit smoking yourself or refrain from being a passive smoker
- Get appropriate rest, do not strain yourself physically
- In the case of a severe pneumonia where hospitalization is required, you would be given intravenous fluids and antibiotics, as well as oxygen therapy, and other supports for breathing difficulties.
Pneumonia and its relation to COVID 19
COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, that can spread to the lungs, and apart from other respiratory ailments it can cause pneumonia. The virus can progress through the respiratory tract into a person's lungs. This causes inflammation leading to swelling of gas exchange membranes and collection of fluid which on progression limits a person's ability to take in oxygen. While most people with mild COVID-19 symptoms recover, some develop severe pneumonia that does not respond well to treatment. Continuous oxygen deprivation in body can lead to damage to other organs, causing kidney failure, heart failure, and other life threatening conditions. Mostly, severe cases of COVID-19 manifest pneumonia apart from few mild to moderate case that can be managed easily with supportive care.
In comparison to a usual pneumonia, in a COVID-19 pneumonia the patient experiences no or very less sputum production and the oxygen levels can fall faster.
Who is at risk?
People with conditions that weaken the lungs or immune system are more vulnerable to COVID-19 pneumonia. Chronic health conditions like cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney or lover disease, breathing disorders are key factors that can worsen the COVID 19 infection.
Its treatment and management
Since no specific drugs are available for the treatment of COVID-19, it is treated with supportive care, oxygen support and ventilator in the case of critically ill patients.
(Dr Nikhil Modi, Senior Consultant, Respiratory, Critical care And Sleep Disorder, Institutes of Critical Care, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi)
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