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Pneumoniais a lung infection that can affect anyone at any age.It makes it difficult to breathe, but most individuals return to their healthy selves within a few weeks. In seniors, however, the infection can be more severe even deadly and can have lasting effects.Lets explore some of the long-term effects that seniors may face after a battle with pneumonia.

Pneumonia-Related Complications

Reduced Cognitive Function

In somestudies, older adults who were treated for pneumonia weretwice aslikely to develop cognitive impairments.While some cognitive impairment was mild and did not affect activities of daily living, some seniors experienced a more severe decline in cognitive function.Inone study, approximately 1 in 4 adults who were hospitalized for pneumonia suffered from moderate to severe cognitive impairment.This impairment spanned across multiple domains of cognition, including:

  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Spatial relationships (like perception and depth)

Whilereduced cognitive functioncould be due to an already identified link between acute hospitalization and cognitive function, the fact that pneumonia is one of the most common causes of hospitalization among older adults suggests a strong correlation.But more research is required to determine the full relationship between cognition and pneumonia.

Increased Depression

Seniors who have suffered with pneumonia are also at anincreased risk of depression.Just like with cognitive function,depression could be the result of any hospital stay.Time spent away from home and loved ones while struggling with health challengesis enough to put anyone in a vulnerable state.

But there is also another relationship between pneumonia and depression. Depression isactuallya risk factor for pneumonia. Approximately1 in 20 pneumonia hospitalizations in older Americanscould be attributed to depression.This could be because depression leads to poorer overall health. But depression can also cause an increase of inflammatoryproteins in the body, which can increase a risk of pneumonia hospitalization.

Therefore, depression and pneumonia have a vicious cycleof rehospitalization. A senior with depression is more prone to develop pneumoniaand require hospitalization, and a seniorhospitalizedwith pneumonia is more likely to become depressed.Luckily, there areproactive ways to help deal with depression in seniorsto help break this cycle.

Lung Damage

Because pneumonia is a lung infection, it has the potential to cause long-term damage to the lungs although this is unlikely.Pneumoniacauses the lung sacs to fill up with pus, making it hard to breathe. Usually,the air sacs clear and are able to function normally. However,severepneumoniacan make ithard for the body to clear the fluid, reducing lung capacityand making it difficult to breathefor months.Itcould also leave scarring in some cases. Scar tissue is thicker and less elastic than regular lung tissue, making it more difficult for the lungs to function like normal.

Pneumonia caused by COVID-19has shown to be moreseverethan other forms ofpneumonia,andit isthe most likely to damage the lungs long term. This is likely because this type of pneumonia affects both lungs and tends to bemore aggressive.But this type of pneumonia is new, so we wont know the type of lasting effects COVID pneumonia will have on seniors.

Organ Failure

Another result of severe pneumonia isacute (or short-term)respiratory failure. This occurs if the lungs fill up with too much fluid and arent able to provide the body with enough oxygen.Your organs need oxygen to function properly, so if their oxygen demand isnt met, they shut down.

Pneumonia could alsoaffect the effectiveness of the heart to pump. One way is that pneumonia can causebacteria to spread from the lungs throughout the body.You could develop septic shock, which causes blood pressure to drop to dangerous levels. Due to the low pressure, the heart cant pump enough blood to the rest of the body.These bacteriacould also enter the heart itself, causing it to pump ineffectively.As a resultof the heart not providing enough oxygen to the body,a senior could be at a higher risk oforganfailure like kidneyorheart failure.

Organ failure can significantly impact a seniors ability to perform tasks of daily living and enjoy life the way they used to. And organ failure can result in death

Avoiding Complications by Preventing Pneumonia

Whilemost individuals will recover from pneumonia without long-term effects, some maystruggle to return to their full health and may never recover. Thats why pneumonia prevention is so important. Most cases of pneumonia can be preventedwith proper hand washing, disinfecting, etc.

Read our blog post to learn more about steps you can take to prevent pneumonia:How to Prevent Pneumonia at Home.

If you or a loved one struggles with effects from pneumonia, we can help. Our team of care experts are specially trained to assist in activities of daily living to helpseniors remain healthy, happy, and home. Reach out to acare team near youto learn more.


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Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by Senior Savings Deals.
Publisher: Caring Senior Service ( Read More )

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