This flu season, the potential risks and complications are even greater amidst the coronavirus pandemic, especially for seniors. One possible complication of the seasonal flu is pneumonia, and adults aged over 65 are more likely to develop this illness. To help keep you and your elderly relatives safe, it’s important that you know the signs and symptoms of pneumonia and what to do if you notice them.
What are the symptoms of pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that results in inflammation. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe, and they may include:
– Shortness of breath
– Difficulty breathing
– A persistent cough
– Chest pain
These symptoms could easily be mistaken for a regular cold or the flu, especially if they are mild, so it’s important to be vigilant and consult a doctor if these symptoms arise. Among seniors, signs of confusion and disorientation can also be a result of pneumonia, so try to be aware of any cognitive or behavioral changes like these when you notice the above symptoms.
The risks and complications of pneumonia
Not only is pneumonia more common in older adults, but it also puts them at greater risk of hospitalization and other complications as a result of developing this illness, which can lead to death in severe cases. Around 50,000 people in the US die each year from pneumonia, and a large percentage of this is people over the age of 65.
Our immune system often becomes weaker as we age, so this can partially explain the increased risks among seniors. People with underlying or pre-existing health conditions are also more at risk of suffering complications from pneumonia, and seniors are more likely to have underlying conditions such as problems with their heart or kidneys.
Treatment for pneumonia
If you or a loved one have symptoms of pneumonia, you should see your doctor as soon as you can for diagnosis and treatment. If your symptoms are severe or if you are having difficulty breathing, then you should go to the emergency room instead. Symptoms of pneumonia in older adults are more likely to warrant a trip to the emergency room than in young adults.
Treatment for pneumonia varies depending on the severity of the patient’s condition and whether their infection is viral, bacterial, or fungal. In less severe cases, suitable medication will be prescribed for the patient to treat their condition at home along with plenty of rest and fluid intake. Hospitalization will be required if the patient needs assistance with breathing and so that their vital signs can be observed closely.