Following a viral infection, such as Covid, there is a risk that the lungs will swell. Known as pneumonia, symptoms of the disease can appear suddenly within 48 hours. NHS experts have pointed out that pneumonia can lead to a cough that produces phlegm. Expect to see thick yellow, green, brown, or bloodstained mucus when you cough.
Breathing may become more labored, which can be described as “rapid and shallow”; shortness of breath can also occur during rest.
Other signs may include: a fast heartbeat; high temperature; generally feel bad; sweating and chills; and loss of appetite.
Chest pain may also develop, which tends to get worse when breathing or coughing.
Less common symptoms may include: headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, wheezing, joint and muscle pain, as well as confusion and disorientation.
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People showing signs of pneumonia are encouraged to use the NHS 111 online service.
However, coughing up blood and difficulty breathing warranted a call to 999 for an ambulance.
Those most at risk for pneumonia include:
- Babies and very young children
- The elderly
- People who smoke.
Certain health problems can also increase the likelihood of developing pneumonia as a result of a viral infection.
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Such conditions can include asthma, cystic fibrosis, or heart, kidney, or liver disease.
Mild pneumonia can be treated at home by getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids.
However, for groups at risk, pneumonia can be serious and require hospital treatment.
“This is because it can lead to serious complications, which in some cases can be fatal, depending on a person’s health and age,” the NHS explained.
Possible complications of pneumonia can include pleurisy, lung abscess, and blood poisoning.
To develop, pleurisy occurs when the thin wall between the lungs and the rib cage becomes inflamed, resulting in respiratory failure.
A lung abscess, on the other hand, is more likely to occur in those with a history of severe alcohol abuse.
How to prevent pneumonia
One of the best ways to reduce the risk of developing pneumonia is not to smoke.
This is because smoking damages the lungs and increases the risk of infection.
Another tip is to limit alcohol intake, as alcohol abuse can weaken the lungs’ natural defenses against infection.
People at high risk of pneumonia are also advised by the health care organization to get the flu shot.
Right now, people can protect themselves against Covid by getting all of their Covid vaccines, including the booster and flu shot.