Why is Pneumonia So Dangerous in Older Adults?

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an acute bacterial or viral infection in the lungs. The disease can affect one or both lungs. It can be mild to severe in condition, but all pneumonia cases should be evaluated and treated by a doctor. Infected lungs leak fluid and shed cells causing the lungs to struggle at their job, making it difficult to breathe. Typically, it can be cleared up in a couple of weeks. The effects, however, can last longer, especially in anyone with compromised health conditions.

In the elderly there are often coexisting conditions. These coexisting conditions make it more difficult for them to fight the disease-causing germs or bacteria that cause pneumonia.

Why is Pneumonia Dangerous?

Left untreated or neglected, pneumonia can have any of the following tragic results:

  • ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress System) – Lungs become severely injured and respiratory failure can occur. Treatment often includes the use of a mechanical ventilator and supplemental oxygen.
  • Abscess – A puss filled cavity in the infected lung.
  • Bacteremia – A possibly deadly infection that invades the bloodstream and can infect the body’s organs.
  • Pleurisy and Empyema – With pleurisy, the membrane that covers the lungs (pleura) becomes inflamed. Empyema occurs when fluids causing inflammation become infected.

What Can You Do to Prevent Pneumonia?

Here are 6 ways to keep you or your loved ones safe from developing this dangerous disease:

  1. Pneumococcal Vaccine: This vaccine helps prevent twenty-three different strains of bacterial pneumonia. It is recommended that you get your first dose when you are in your 50s and your second dose at age 65. A new dose should be given every five years.
  2. Influenza Vaccine: This vaccine is just as important as the pneumococcal vaccine. Pneumonia is often a secondary infection after an initial bout of the flu. People who receive this vaccine have less risk of developing the disease as a flu complication. Older adults should get a flu shot every year.
  3. Hand Washing: Can’t be stressed enough! Wash your hands often.
  4. Dental Hygiene: Pneumonia infections can be caused by poor dental practices. Infections often start in the mouth around infected teeth and gums.
  5. Good Health Habits: Exercise, rest and healthy eating habits can build resistance that helps fight a host of infections including pneumonia.
  6. Keep a Safe Distance: If you know someone is sick, keep clear of them!

Pneumonia is a dangerous disease. Take the risks associated with pneumonia seriously and keep yourself safe. Do you need help finding a great geriatric physician? Do you have any questions about its dangers? Call The Finishing Touch, Real Estate Services and Relocation Specialists at (630) 336-1820. We can connect you with those who can help you.

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