As we enter the cooler months, our team here at Innovative Care Medicine wants to remind you that we are here for you when you need us most. Amidst these uncertain times, we are fully equipped to help you and your family stay healthy this season. In addition to the evolving coronavirus, there are a variety of ailments that have the potential to make this fall and winter difficult. One illness to which we want to bring awareness is pneumonia.
What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection in the air sacs of one or both lungs that often causes a cough with phlegm, fever, chills, and/or labored breathing. The symptoms of pneumonia are often similar to those of the common cold or flu, but they typically last longer and can be more severe.
This illness can be caused by bacteria, viruses, and even fungi, and can range in symptoms and severity. For infants, young children, immunocompromised individuals, and patients over the age of 65, pneumonia can be more serious and even life-threatening.
As previously mentioned, mild symptoms of pneumonia can mimic those of a cold or the flu. If you experience difficulty breathing, chest pain, a lingering fever of 102 F or above, or persistent coughing with or without pus, consult your doctor. Common signs that you may be experiencing pneumonia include:
- Chest pain while breathing or coughing
- Cough with or without phlegm
- Confusion (especially prevalent in patients over the age of 65)
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Fever, chills, sweating, and/or shaking
- Lower body temperature (in patients with weakened immune systems and patients over the age of 65)
It is important to note that children under the age of 2 may or may not exhibit symptoms, but may experience vomiting, fatigue, fever and/or cough, and have difficulty eating and/or breathing. It is always best to consult with your pediatrician if you suspect pneumonia in these cases.
It comes as no surprise that as a whole, public health may look a little different this year. While our bodies may have had more exposure and strengthened our immune systems in years past, the coronavirus pandemic has made this year especially challenging for not only COVID-19, but also for the regular seasonal illnesses we try to avoid every year.
Fortunately, preventative measures can be taken to best protect your family from pneumonia this season as you continue to practice CDC guidelines for COVID-19 prevention.
1. Get vaccinated. We highly encourage getting annual vaccinations for the flu and pneumonia, especially if you are at a higher risk of getting sick or if you live with an individual who is in a high-risk category. Be sure to consult with your doctor beforehand to discuss your vaccination history and the current vaccination.
2. Wash your hands. This should go without saying, but washing your hands is essential to protecting public health. Be sure to wash for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap, especially after you cough, sneeze, or leave a public place. If you are unable to wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and wash your hands as soon as you are able.
3. Quit smoking. Smoking can not only damage your lungs but also harm your natural defense system against respiratory infections like pneumonia.
4. Practice healthy habits. Getting a consistent and good night’s rest, eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, and exercising regularly are all important steps to take to combat illness.
We are proud to serve our community and help keep your family safe and healthy this season. For more information about pneumonia prevention, vaccinations, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today at (951) 356-9992.