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Pneumonia: Treatments and Prevention

It just canít be emphasized enough:  pneumonia is a potentially life-threatening disease.  Itís essential that you follow your personal health care practitionerís advice as well 

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as taking any medication she may prescribe for you.  Choosing in addition to this some alternative and complementary treatment is great Ė but pneumonia is not a disease tht you should consider treating on your own.

Your health care practitioner has several options at her disposal to help you fight this infection in your lungs.  First, it your pneumonia is caused by a bacteria, then itís very likely that your health care practitioner will prescribe antibiotics. 


Antibiotics may also be administered if you have mycoplasma pneumonia.  This is a form of pneumonia that is usually community-acquired.  As such, its symptoms appear slowly. Donít expect recovery to occur very quickly however. You may very well be plagued with a lingering fatigue long after the infection has cleared.  Sadly, many instances of this type of pneumonia actually go undiagnosed and, therefore, untreated. Many people never develop any signs worse than a bad chest cold.  These individuals never realize they should seek treatment.


If you havenít used antibiotics lately, then you may not recall the importance of taking the entire prescription. Taking antibiotics is not like taking aspirin or a pain reliever.  When we try to relief ourselves from pain, we take the over-the-counter medication until the symptoms are gone.  When you take antibiotics you need to take the entire prescription, even if the symptoms have disappeared.


Antibiotics are not given to relieve the symptoms of the illness as much as they are to kill the bacteria.  The bacteria may have all been killed by the time the you are feeling better.  But the easing of your cough or other signals is really not an accurate reflection of the number of bacteria left in your system.


Stopping  the medication too soon may prompt a re-emergence of your pneumonia.  Not taking a full prescription of the antibiotics also helps to create bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics.


Your personal health care practitioner wonít prescribe antibiotics if she knows for a fact that the cause of your pneumonia is due to a virus.  Some forms of viral pneumonia can be treated with antiviral medications, the general treatment in this instance is more than likely the same as for the flu Ė plenty of fluids and plenty of rest.


If a fungus is the cause of your pneumonia, then your health care practitioner will treat you with an antifungal medication.


These may not be the only measures your health care practitioner takes in battling the pneumonia though.  She may recommend that you take several over-the-counter medications intended to reduce your fever as well as treat your aches and pains.  She may also have you take cough syrup.  Usually though the last thing you want to do is to actually suppress your cough.  The cough is your systemís way of clearing you lung of phlegm collecting in your lungs.


Pneumonia:  Prevention


Pneumonia is not contagious.  You canít contract the illness because youíve been near someone else you has it.


You can develop this serious respiratory illness, though, if your immune system is weakened temporarily.  Very often youíll never know exactly why youíve developed it, either.


That makes it a difficult disease to prevent.  But there are some preventive measures you can take to keep your system as healthy as possible.  This could at least lower the risk of you being susceptible to developing it.


Thereís now a pneumonia vaccine.  While it may not be necessary for everyone to get inoculated, check with your health care practitioner if you believe youíre at risk for developing it.  Most medical experts agree that anyone older than 65 years of age should get one.  Other risk factors which may warrant the vaccine include having a weakened immune system, having had your spleen removed.


You should also consider this vaccine if you have a chronic illness Ė especially that deals with your lungs.  Those individuals with health conditions like cardiovascular disease or diabetes may also want to consider this vaccine.


Usually all an individual needs is one dose of the vaccine.  However, a second dose may be recommended if youíre 65 years or older and received your first dose prior to your turning 65.


You may also want to consider the pneumonia vaccine if you smoke cigarettes.


If youíre concerned about your young child developing pneumonia, thereís also a vaccine called pneumococcal conjugate.  This is recommended for children younger than the age of two or for those older than two who are at risk of pneumococcal disease.  Those children who would fall into this category would be those with an immune system deficiency, cardiovascular, sickle cell anemia or cancer. 


You really donít need to worry about side effects from this vaccine, medical specialists say.  They are few and usually mild. Side effects are normally limited to a mild tenderness or swelling at the site of the shot.


You should also think about getting a second dose if you have a weakened immune system, have had an organ or bone marrow transplant, kidney disease or if your spleen has been removed.


If you and your health care practitioner have decided that you donít need a vaccine to protect you from pneumonia, think at least about getting one for the flu.  Very often pneumonia occurs as a complication of the flu.  So getting yourself protected from the flu may be a great way to achieve some protection from pneumonia at the same time.


There are other, practical steps you can take to protect yourself from the flu.  Get into the habit of washing your hands.  Think about it.  Theyíre in almost constant contact with germs that have the potential to cause pneumonia.  These germs gain entrance into your system when you touch your eyes, or rub the inside of your nose.  If you wash your hands thoroughly and often you can help to substantially reduce your chances of developing pneumonia.


Yes, there are times when washing your hands just isnít practical.  It would be a good idea to carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you, either in your car, briefcase or purse.  This method may actually be more effective in destroying the bacteria and viruses that can cause the illness.


If you smoke, stop!  There are plenty of good reasons to kick the habit.  This is just one more.  Smoking damages your lungsí natural defenses to fight respiratory infections.  Just by quitting, you can go a long way to decreasing your odds of getting pneumonia.


Complementary and Alternative Treatments


Make no mistake about it.  Pneumonia is a serious Ė even fatal Ė illness.  So itís imperative that you follow your personal health care practitionerís advice. 


That being said, there are also plenty of ways you can aid in the recovery of your pneumonia.  A major step toward a full recovery is the establishment of a healthy diet.  This is also a marvelous time to reinforce your good eating habits with a few more nourishing practices. 


You can accomplish this best through a series of steps.  First, try Ė to the best of your ability Ė to remove all known food allergies from your diet.  Then you need to make a conscious effort to drink plenty of fluids, especially fresh juices.  Pear juice is particularly effective at loosening up congestion in the lungs.  In fact, drink a variety of juices especially those of the green and yellow fruits and vegetables. 


These are extremely beneficial in your recovering from this illness.   Other foods that will help improve your recovery time include fresh garlic, cayenne pepper and chili peppers.


By contrast, if you have pneumonia or are recovering from it, you should avoid eating dairy products, as well as processed foods.


Whether you change your diet, there are certain other methods you can use to ensure that you recover as quickly as possible from your bout of pneumonia.


Be sure to get plenty of rest.  This is no time to think that the family or the office canít live without you.  Theyíll take care of themselves.  You just concentrate on re-building your energy and restoring your health.  Keep in mind that one day of feeling a little better doesnít constitute a total recovery.  Once you start moving about, be very careful not to over extend your self.  You may yourself right back into bed!


Donít stop taking that medication!  Your health care practitioner no doubt has warned you!  If you need to take the entire prescription of a medication Ė take it.  If you stop taking it too soon it can cause a relapse in your pneumonia.  Not only that, but by not taking the full dose of prescribed antibiotics, the bacteria may grow resistant to the medication.  This can contribute to the development of an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria.


If you have a follow-up appointment with health care practitioner, keep it.  Pneumonia is not the type of disease to treat lightly.  You may feel better, but that doesnít necessarily mean the infection in your lungs has totally cleared.  Itís vitally important that your doctor monitor your progress.






Note: Some statements in this article may not be approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice.


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