With flu season fast approaching, it’s time to be on the lookout for pneumonia, especially in those more likely to contract the infection, such as the elderly, children, and the immunocompromised. Getting treatment right away may help prevent complications.

Do you feel chest pain when you cough? Are you having a difficult time catching your breath? You may have a respiratory infection, which you may know better as pneumonia. While anyone can get pneumonia, certain groups of people are more at risk than others.

Village Emergency Centers is a 24 hour ER that sees many respiratory infections, especially during flu season. Our team wants you to be aware of who’s most at risk and what to look for so you can get treatment right away.

Who’s most at risk of contracting pneumonia?

People with a weakened immune system tend to be most at risk for contracting pneumonia. This includes children, the elderly, and people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or an autoimmune disorder.

Those who are more at risk of contracting pneumonia are also at greater risk of developing pneumonia-related complications such as respiratory failure that requires breathing assistance.

Other health conditions that may increase your risk of pneumonia include:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Swallowing disorders
  • Heart disease, diabetes, or liver disease

Smoking also increases your risk of developing pneumonia. You may also be more at risk of developing pneumonia after a recent hospitalization, even for something as simple as a knee replacement, due to potential exposure to bacteria. Nursing home residents are also at greater risk of pneumonia for similar reasons.

How do I know if I have pneumonia?

Pneumonia symptoms vary and can be mild or severe. But because it’s an infection, it requires medical treatment to get better.

Common symptoms include:

  • Productive cough
  • Chest pain when you breathe or cough
  • Fever or a low body temperature
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Extreme fatigue

You should come to one of our 24 hr ER centers right away if you have shortness of breath or a fever of 102 degrees or greater, especially if you’re immune system is compromised. We have other locations, including Houston and League City.

Causes of pneumonia

Germs in the air you breathe are the most common cause of pneumonia. While your body may do its best to prevent these germs from getting to and settling in your lungs to start an infection, sometimes your body just can’t stop it.

Pneumonia is classified based on the cause:

  • Community acquired pneumonia: bacteria, virus, fungus
  • Hospital acquired pneumonia: infection during hospitalization for another condition
  • Health-care acquired pneumonia: infection caught while in a long-term care facility

Hospital and health-care acquired pneumonia can come from bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, making it more difficult to treat.

Treating pneumonia

Most people can treat their pneumonia at home with medication. It usually only takes a few days of treatment to feel better. However, you need to continue taking the medication as prescribed to clear up the infection and prevent it from getting worse. Your fatigue may linger for up to a month while your body heals.

Treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Cough medicine
  • Pain reliever

Some people with pneumonia may require hospitalization for treatment, including:

  • People over age 65
  • You’re experiencing confusion
  • Your pneumonia is also affecting kidney function
  • Low blood pressure
  • High or low heart rate
  • Low body temperature
  • Difficulty breathing on your own

If you suspect your coughing and breathing difficulties are pneumonia, the skilled ER team at Village Emergency Centers can help. Come in right away for an evaluation and treatment. We’re open 24 hours. We also have locations in Houston, League City, Texas so you can get the best treatment at your nearest location.