Individuals who get COVID-19 already experience symptoms like coughing, fever, and shortness of breath. However, they can also get severe pneumonia in their lungs. Experts are callingitCOVID pneumonia, and it is moredangerous than regular pneumonia which is already the5th leading cause of death in the elderly. Seniors especially should take precautions to avoid the risks of getting COVID-19 or COVID pneumonia. In this post, we will outline tips to help prevent this type of pneumonia.
First, lets talk a bit more about this dangerous lung infection. It occurs as a result of COVID-19, which compromises the immune system and makes it easier for an infection to developin the lungs. COVID pneumonia typically occurs in severe COVID cases, which account for 15% of total cases.However,seniors are at higher riskthan younger adultsfor both COVID and COVID-related pneumonia.
Seniors with COVID pneumonia may experience the followingsymptomsin addition to their COVID-19symptoms:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Low blood pressure
- Quick breathing
- Heavy sweating
- Shortness of breath
Unlike traditional pneumonia, COVID pneumoniaaffects both lungs. It can also cause a ground-glass appearance on a CT scan. Individuals with COVID pneumonia might also have abnormalities in lab tests assessing liver function.Additionally, this type of pneumonia seems to causemore inflammationin the lungs than traditional pneumonia, making it hard to breathe and get proper oxygen.It also spreads faster through the lungsand can affect a larger area.In fact, it is described as spreading like awildfirein the lungs.
Becausethis type of pneumonia is stronger and harder to fight off, cases last longer and cause more damage to the lungs. Early studies show that up to1/3 of patients with COVID pneumoniahave scarring to their lungs a year after the infection.
Long-term lung damage could impact a seniors ability to get enough oxygen during their remaining years. Lack of sufficient oxygen could also cause damage to the heart, kidneys, and brain over time, making it crucial for seniors to take every measure to avoid COVID-19and COVID pneumonia.
Now, lets dive into some tips to help seniors avoid COVID pneumonia.
Manage Underlying Health Conditions
Seniors with underlying health conditions are naturally at a higher risk for developing infections or catching illnesses. The following underlying conditions, especially, can put a senior at a higher risk for COVID pneumonia:
- Chronic lung disease (like COPD)
- Liver disease
- Heart conditions
- Chronic kidney disease
Seniors should follow their doctors orders to manage these types of conditions. That may include taking medications as prescribed, getting treatments, changing your diet, and more. Thebetter you can manage chronic conditions, the lower your risk for serious complications due to COVID.
Practice Infection Control Measures
Weve seen lots of CDC guidelines on infection control in 2020 and 2021. Follow these guidelines to help reduce your risk ofgettingCOVID in the first place. These measures include:
- Washing your hands frequently or sanitizing them if water and soap are not available
- Social distance when possible
- Sanitize high-traffic areas in your home (faucets, door knobs, remote, etc.)
Seek Medical Treatment for COVID-19
Because COVID pneumonia is a result of COVID-19, its important that seniors seek medical attention as soon as possible if they suspect COVID-19. There are many pharmacies, doctors offices, and hospitals that offer COVID testing. You can even get some at-home test kits.
If a senior does have COVID, they should get medical treatment to help manage the condition. While they may want to remain at home, its best to seek professional help in case there are complications. This can help seniors reduce their chance of infections, like COVID pneumonia, and othereffects of COVID.
Seniors should also get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they havent already. These vaccinations are free and available across the country. While the vaccines dont completely prevent COVID-19, they can significantly reduce the severity of COVID cases and can help prevent seniors from getting pneumonia as a result of their COVID.
Butthereare alsodifferentpneumonia vaccinesthat seniorscanalso get. Thesevaccinesaredesignedto fight themostcommon formsof bacteriathat causepneumonia,andtheymay help seniors bolster their immune system. Of course, they can also get vaccinated against other illnesses, like the flu, which can lead to pneumonia as well.
Practice Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Keeping a healthy lifestyle can help your immune systemstaystrong.So, if you do get COVID, you can reduce your chance of complications as your immune system fights back!Some good healthy lifestyle habits to adopt include:
- Getting enough sleep each night
- Drinking plenty of water
- Eating healthily
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid smoking
- Maintain good oral health
- Limit alcohol intake
- Find ways to ease stress
If a Loved One Gets COVID Pneumonia
Even by following all of these tips, a loved one may still get COVID pneumonia. If this happens, know that there is help available. At Caring Senior Service, we have a pneumonia-focused care plan that adapts to your loved ones needs. This program includestraining so our caregivers know to provide the best care during pneumonia recovery. It also includes care coordination with other health professionals so that everyone is on the same page regarding a seniors care plan.
This program can help your loved one recover safely after theyre discharged from the hospital. And it can reduce your worry and give you peace of mind. Learn more aboutourPneumonia Specialty Program.