It can sometimes be difficult to detect pneumonia in the elderly. Unfortunately, this health condition often results in complications that can endanger a person’s life. This is one of the reasons why people 65 and over fall into a high-risk category if they get the disease. If you are a family caregiver, it is essential to learn all you can about pneumonia. This way you can help your elderly loved one stay safe.
Three Main Types of Pneumonia
Pneumonia can be life-threatening. It is especially dangerous for elderly adults. The three main types of pneumonia include the following:
Viral pneumonia. About one-third of the elderly who get diagnosed with this disease have viral pneumonia. It is often triggered by the flu or a common cold.
Bacterial pneumonia. This kind of pneumonia is caused by bacterial droplets found in the air. For instance, if someone sneezes or coughs, they could spread bacterial pneumonia. Many studies show that the elderly can also contract bacterial pneumonia by touching objects or surfaces.
Mycoplasma pneumonia. This type of pneumonia is also known as atypical pneumonia. It is also sometimes referred to as walking pneumonia. Most people who contract it think they have a simple cold. However, they find their symptoms worsen over a few days. If mycoplasma pneumonia goes untreated, a person could get very sick with a serious infection.
There are other types of pneumonia that you should know about. Some of these include hospital-acquired, community-acquired, aspiration, and fungal pneumonia. It is always best to have your elderly loved one see a doctor if you suspect they have pneumonia.
Pneumonia Symptoms in Elderly Adults
There are some symptoms associated with pneumonia that you should watch out for. These include the following:
- Chest pain when breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Blue fingernails or lips
Some other pneumonia symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Remember, the best thing to do if your elderly loved one experiences any of these symptoms is to contact their doctor immediately. The sooner they get treatment, the fewer complications that may arise.
Pneumonia Treatment Options
If your elderly loved one is diagnosed with pneumonia, their doctor will most likely establish a medication plan for them. They might be put on antibiotics or antiviral medications. If they have a fever, their doctor will likely recommend a medication to relieve it. Many experts also say coughing helps clear the lungs. You and your elderly loved one’s home health care providers can encourage them to cough more if they have pneumonia. It is important to understand that if your loved one’s condition gets too severe, their doctor might want them to be hospitalized.
It is common for an elderly adult to recover from pneumonia. However, the odds are greater if they seek help immediately after showing symptoms. If your elderly loved one is ill, be sure they see their doctor as soon as possible.