Friday, July 15, 2016


Unfortunately enough, you or your loved ones may have experienced pneumonia at one time or another.  Pneumonia is an infection that sets in and makes itself at home in either one of your lungs, or both of them.  Within your lungs you have tiny air sacs that help with the process of your respirations.  When you develop pneumonia these air sacs become inflamed, and may fill with fluid or pus.  As a result of the air sacs becoming compromised you will begin to develop a cough that becomes productive, causing you to cough up sputum, plus you will develop a fever, chills, and even possibly have difficulty breathing.  There is no one specific organism that causes pneumonia…it can be a variety of things including bacteria, viruses, and/or fungi. 

The severity of pneumonia will vary anywhere from a mild case to case that is life-threatening. Individuals older than the age of 65 are one of the most vulnerable groups of people where this condition can be threatening to their life.  In addition, those with other health problems or who already have a weakened immune system may also be at risk for greater complications from pneumonia. 

The signs and symptoms of pneumonia vary also and can range also from being mild to severe.  The signs and symptoms specific to the course of pneumonia you experience will depend upon what type of organism is causing your infection, your age, and your current state of health.  Signs and symptoms of pneumonia make yourself familiar with include:

o   Fever, chills, shivering and sweating.
o   Cough that will most likely produce sputum
o   Chest pain when you breathe or cough
o   Shortness of breath
o   Fatigue
o   Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea

An important symptom to keep in mind if you are age 65 or older is that if you have other health conditions, or if your immune system is already weak, you may present with a body temperature that is lower than normal, instead of having a fever.  In addition, the older adult population may also experience sudden changes in their mental status if they have pneumonia.

Pneumonia can be contracted in various ways and many germs out there can cause you to become infected.  The most common germs that cause pneumonia are the bacteria and viruses that are present in the air we breathe.  Generally, because your body is familiar with the common germs, it does well at fighting them off and keeps them away from infecting your lungs.  However, there are sometimes when the infecting organism may overpower the fight put up by your immune system and you may develop pneumonia, even if you are considered to be in good health.  Different types and causes of pneumonia are listed as follows.  Keep in mind that pneumonia is classified according to the germs that cause it and where you acquired the infection.

            Community-acquired pneumonia
v This is the most common type and it occurs outside of health care facilities.
v It may be caused by bacteria, other bacteria-like organisms, viruses, and fungi.

            Hospital-acquired pneumonia
v Individuals may catch pneumonia during their hospital stay while being treated for a completely different illness.
v Can be serious because the bacteria causing the infection may end up being resistant to the antibiotics available to treat it.
v Individuals who are on breathing machines (ventilators) are at an increase risk.

            Health care-acquired pneumonia
v A bacterial infection that occurs in people who are living in long-term care facilities or have received treatment in outpatient clinics.

            Aspiration pneumonia
v Occurs when you inhale food, drink, emesis (vomit), or saliva into your lungs.
v More likely if something interrupts your normal gag reflex, such as a brain injury, swallowing problem, or excessive use of alcohol or drugs.

When you or your loved one experience any of the signs and symptoms above and you opt to seek out medical attention and if pneumonia is suspected, the following diagnostic studies may be recommended for you:

            Chest X-ray
v Helps determine the extent and location of the infection within your lungs.
            Laboratory tests
v Blood will be drawn to confirm infection and to assist in identification of what organism is causing your infection.
            Pulse Oximetry
v This measures oxygen levels in your bloodstream; pneumonia can prevent your lungs from transporting adequate amounts of oxygen within your bloodstream and could cause a decrease in oxygen levels. 
            Sputum culture
v A sputum sample will be collected after you cough deeply.  The sample will then be evaluated to also assist in identification of what is causing the infection.

Once diagnosis is confirmed, your treatment regimen will be established with goals of curing the infection and preventing complications.  The treatment plan will vary person to person and will depend ultimately upon the type and severity of your pneumonia, your age, and your overall state of health.  You may be instructed to take antibiotics, fever reducers and/or cough medicine.  For those who have a more severe case including individuals who are over the age of 65, hospitalization may be required for more aggressive treatment.

Total Home Health has a program that is right for you and your healthcare needs related to pneumonia.  Our highly-skilled professionals will always work closely with your provider to ensure your prescribed treatment plan is strictly followed when you return home in order to promote your health and prevent any complications.  With pneumonia it is important that our healthcare professionals incorporate plenty of rest, increased hydration and strict administration of your medication into your daily routine in order for you to reach your most optimal health and get the most out of your daily routine.  Our staff is very approachable and greatly enjoys communicating with you and your loved ones.  Once you enroll with Total Home Health, you will be another addition to our family and we will always strive to make your health and safety our number one priorities.  What are you waiting for?

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