As people age, their immune systems work less well, leaving them less able to fend off infections. Heart disease, diabetes and other serious illnesses that are common in seniors increase risk of pneumonia. Seniors are more susceptible to the flu and other lung-related conditions, which sometimes develop into pneumonia.
In the U.S., pneumonia in the elderly is usually caused by bacteria or a virus. Pneumococcal pneumonia is the most common type of bacterial pneumonia, affecting more than 900,000 Americans each year, according to the ALA. This type of pneumonia is caused by a germ called Streptococcus pneumoniae.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common cause of pneumonia among the elderly. Aspiration pneumonia is underdiagnosed in this group of patients, and tuberculosis always should be considered. In this population an etiologic diagnosis is rarely available when antimicrobial therapy must be instituted.
If you’re an older individual, you can help to prevent pneumonia by doing the following:
Pneumonia can be life-threatening to seniors exposed to bacteria, viruses, or fungi. It is most dangerous for people older than age 65 because seniors tend to have health issues or weakened immune systems.
Stage 1: Congestion. Stage 2: Red hepatization. Stage 3: Grey hepatization. Stage 4: Resolution.
Signs and symptoms of pneumonia may include:
When you are caring for a senior with pneumonia, you can expect a recovery time as long as six to eight weeks. This increased recovery time is due to the weakened state of the elderly with the illness and their body’s inability to fight off the bacteria that pneumonia produces in their lungs.
For the 15% of infected individuals who develop moderate to severe COVID-19 and are admitted to the hospital for a few days and require oxygen, the average recovery time ranges between three to six weeks.
The three main causes of pneumonia are bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Treatment depends on the cause. Pneumonia is a type of infection that affects your lungs. It can affect one or both lungs.
The symptoms of pneumonia can develop suddenly over 24 to 48 hours, or they may come on more slowly over several days. Common symptoms of pneumonia include: a cough – which may be dry, or produce thick yellow, green, brown or blood-stained mucus (phlegm)
The most common physical symptoms are:
Most seniors who develop pneumonia recover from it. But how long it takes to recover depends on many factors, including what bacteria or virus caused it and whether the person is frail or has additional health conditions that make recovery more difficult.
Ways you can get pneumonia include: Bacteria and viruses living in your nose, sinuses, or mouth may spread to your lungs. You may breathe some of these germs directly into your lungs. You breathe in (inhale) food, liquids, vomit, or fluids from the mouth into your lungs (aspiration pneumonia).
Most people do eventually recover from pneumonia. However, the 30-day mortality rate is 5 to 10 percent of hospitalized patients. It can be up to 30 percent in those admitted to intensive care.