I’m coughing up a little bit of phlegm; I’ll get over it. I’m a little short of breath, but I don’t want to bother the doctor. My chest has been aching; I probably pulled a muscle. I’ve had the chills for the last week; it’s just a virus.
It may be easy to dismiss each of these symptoms as something minor. But you shouldn’t. Because any of them could be a sign of pneumonia. And if you have pneumonia and delay seeking treatment—even for a short time—the outcome could be very serious.
Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in the lungs. The air sacs may fill with fluid causing symptoms such as a cough with phlegm, difficulty breathing, and fever and chills. A variety of bacteria, viruses and fungi can cause pneumonia.
Seniors are at particular risk. Pneumonia is the eighth leading cause of death in those ages 65+. And 90% of all pneumonia deaths are in this population.
You’re more susceptible to developing pneumonia if you’ve had recent surgery, have a weakened immune system, smoke, contract the flu, or suffer from heart disease, emphysema, or diabetes.
Early diagnosis and treatment are key. Pay close attention to changes in your body. Common symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic, include:
You can reduce your risk of getting pneumonia:
If you’re at risk for pneumonia or recovering from it, physical therapy may improve your ability to exercise and address breathing difficulties. Talk with your doctor to learn if therapy could benefit you.
At Lutheran Life Villages, we offer inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services at three of our campuses—The Village at Pine Valley, The Village at Kendallville and The Village at Anthony Boulevard.