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Pneumonia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

January 24, 2022

In Minnesota, winter means different things to its diverse residents. For some, it means spending hours fishing upon frigid ice. To others, it means skiing down powered slopes. For some, it’s hibernating with hot cocoa under warm blankets until spring arrives. The one aspect of winter which unites Minnesotans is the advent of cold and flu seasons. However, in today’s COVID-conscious world, it can be difficult to discern a cold from something worse.

Symptoms of Pneumonia

Pneumonia, which includes bacterial, viral, and fungal variants, occurs when the air sacs of one or both lungs fill with pus and other fluids. The symptoms of pneumonia—such as a cough, fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue—can mimic most common colds and cases of the flu. As such, it’s important to note the subtle distinctions of the symptoms.

The indicator of pneumonia is generally found in the phlegm, which can be green-yellow, or even bloody. Additionally, pneumonia can cause increased confusion, or mental fog, in the elderly, who are already at an increased risk of infection.

Because pneumonia affects the lungs and the ability to breathe, it’s vital to see a doctor as soon as symptoms appear. It’s also wise to keep a close eye on a cold or flu to ensure symptoms don’t worsen into pneumonia.

Causes of Pneumonia

One of the main causes of pneumonia is lying on your back for extended periods, so pneumonia in winter is more common, as people tend to be more sedentary. So, to the cocoa-loving binge-watchers—make sure to get off the couch and exercise a bit, even when the weather doesn’t seem to accommodate.

Pneumonia can also be caused by common colds and touches of flu. This may be due to resting and recovering too much while lying on your back or because of your weakened immune system.

Treating Pneumonia

Pneumonia treatment varies based on which type is acquired. For bacterial pneumonia, antibiotics are typically prescribed. However, viral pneumonia has no such help, other than getting immunized before falling ill. Recovering from pneumonia takes time; since too much rest can worsen symptoms and the sickness affects energy levels, it may take a month or longer for the lungs to return to their healthy conditions.

Want more articles on staying healthy and safe all year round? Visit the Specialized Health and Safety blog.