THE FLU is especially common during the winter months and can be a dangerous illness, especially for young children and older adults. It is extremely important to be aware of the flu’s potential progression into pneumonia and how to recognize pneumonia symptoms. Especially for those 65 and older, pneumonia cases tend to be more severe, therefore it is critical to understand the illness as comprehensively as possible.
Pneumonia is either a viral or bacterial infection that inflames and irritates the air sacs in one or both of your lungs. A key symptom of pneumonia is the intense coughing up of phlegm or pus, since when the lungs are infected the air sacs fill up with this fluid. This also causes difficulty breathing, chills, sweating, and fever. More symptoms include chest pain, fatigue, lower body temperature, dehydration, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, high heart rate, and occasionally nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In people of ages 65 and above, lack of mental awareness and confusion are also important signs.
It is important to note that there are varying degrees of severity with pneumonia. Mild symptoms are usually similar to that of the flu; they simply last longer. This type of viral pneumonia is often called “walking pneumonia.” However, severe pneumonia (usually caused by bacteria) can be life-threatening, so it’s important to monitor and treat pneumonia carefully and thoroughly. For those over 65 and under two, as well as those with a weak immune system, see a doctor immediately after recognizing any of the symptoms listed above.
This column is sponsored by Trinity Medical Group.
column by DR. ADAM PARKER
BIO: Adam Parker, DO, is a board-certified family medicine provider at Trinity Medical Group.