Stages of Pneumonia
Is your loved one looking tired and run down most of the time? Also, you might start noticing some signs like cough, shortness of breath, low energy, loss of appetite, low energy, etc. They are getting shaking chills and complaining of being too cold even when their skin is warm and clammy. While coughing, they may produce greenish, yellow, or even bloody mucus. It means they might start suffering from pneumonia.
Noticing these symptoms in the elderly can be more life-threatening and generate serious complications. That’s why it is necessary to be aware of early signs and symptoms, plus different stages of pneumonia to diagnose them immediately.
So they can seek prompt treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.
In the following write-up, we explain in detail the different stages of pneumonia and its early signs. Let’s have a look!
What is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a variant of acute respiratory infection that affects the lung tissues. In other terms, it is an infection of the lungs that causes cough, fever, and shortness of breathing.
The lungs consist of small saccular formations (alveoli), which get filled with pus, blood cells, and other liquid. Generally, a variety of microorganisms can cause pneumonia, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Pneumonia can range from mild to life-threatening and is most dangerous for infants and young children, people over 65, and people with weakened immune systems.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Pneumonia
Pneumonia is infectious in nature and develops as a result of disease-causing organisms entering the lungs – most often bacteria, sometimes viruses, and fungi. They cause an inflammatory process, which is characterized by the accumulation of fluid in the lumen of the alveoli and the appearance of certain symptoms.
The most common way for pathogens to enter the body is through airborne droplets. When a sick person coughs and sneezes, the bacteria and viruses get released and enter the nasopharynx of a healthy person. It activates the microorganisms living in the nasopharynx and becomes the cause of the inflammatory process.
The severity of symptoms and signs of pneumonia at the initial stage depends on the bacteria, health status, age, and characteristics of the human body. Sometimes pneumonia begins acutely, with a sharp deterioration in well-being. And in some cases, it can develop over several days or weeks.
Well, the signs and symptoms of pneumonia range from mild to severe, depending on factors such as the type of germ causing the infection, age, and general health. Mild signs and symptoms are often similar to those of a cold or flu, but they last longer.
Signs and symptoms of pneumonia can include:
- Chest pain while breathing and coughing
- Cough with mucus
- Shortness of breath
- Below normal body temperature (in adults over 65 and people with weak immune systems)
- Changes in mood, appetite, physical activity in the elderly (in combination with other factors)
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea (rare)
- Confusion of consciousness
- Feeling tired and weak
- Hoarseness of the voice
What Causes Pneumonia?
Many microbes can cause pneumonia. The most common are bacteria and viruses in the air we breathe, especially indoor air. Human immunity usually prevents these microorganisms from contracting the lungs. But sometimes these microbes can suppress the immune system, even if your health is generally good.
Pneumonia is listed according to the types of microbes that cause it and the place where you get caught by the infection.
Community-acquired pneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia. This happens outside of hospitals or other health care facilities. This can be caused by:
- Bacteria: In the USA, the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae. This type of pneumonia can occur on its own or after you have a cold or the flu. It may affect one part (lobe) of the lung. The bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae), which is also known as pneumococcus, causes pneumococcal disease. This is the most serious type of pneumonia.
- Bacterial-like Organisms. Mycoplasma pneumoniae can also cause pneumonia. It usually causes milder symptoms than other types of pneumonia. The informal name for this type of pneumonia is walking pneumonia.
- Fungi or Mold: This type of pneumonia is most common in people with chronic health problems or weakened immune systems, and in people who have inhaled large doses of organisms. The fungi that cause it can be found in soil or bird droppings and vary according to geographical location.
- Viruses: Certain viruses, influenza virus, herpes viruses, adenoviruses that cause the common cold, can also cause pneumonia. Viruses are the most common cause of pneumonia. COVID 2019 may also cause pneumonia.
Some people get pneumonia during their hospital stay due to another medical condition. Hospital pneumonia can be serious because the bacteria that produce it can be more immune to antibiotics and the people who get it are already sick and weakened. People who are on ventilators are at a higher risk of this type of pneumonia.
It is a bacterial infection that occurs in people who are in long-term care facilities or are treated on an outpatient basis, including kidney dialysis centers. Like hospital-acquired pneumonia, it can be caused by bacteria that are more resistant to antibiotics.
This problem occurs when a patient sniffs food, drink, vomit, or saliva into the lungs. Aspiration is more likely to occur if something hinders your normal gag reflex, such as brain damage, excessive alcohol, or drug use.
4 Stages of Pneumonia Diseases in Seniors and Early Signs
There are four stages of pneumonia in the Elderly. We also explain the 4 stages of pneumonia symptoms in detail. Let’s have a look at each of them
Stage 1: Congestion
Congestion usually occurs within 24 hours of infection. At this stage, the lungs become very heavy and congested because infectious fluid gets accumulated in the air sacs (alveoli). The lungs may look red due to high blood flow and swelling of the lung tissue. Thus, your loved ones or seniors start experiencing the early signs of pneumonia, including:
- Heaviness in the chest
- Loss of appetite
- Fast breathing
Stage 2: Red Hepatization
It occurs after 48 to 72 hours and lasts for about 2 to 4 days. When red blood cells enter the fluid-filled lungs, they fight the infection, which turns the lungs’ appearance into red. During this stage, the body tries to combat the causes of infections. However, your loved ones will start experiencing worsening symptoms, like:
- More productive cough
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle pains and aches
- Extreme fatigue
- Shaking Chills
- Blue lips or fingernails due to low levels of oxygen in the blood
- Experience confusion or delirium
If your seniors end up with such serious symptoms, it is a good time to seek emergency pneumonia treatment.
Stage 3: Gray Hepatization
This grey hepatization occurs on days 4 to 6 and continues for 4 to 8 days. At this stage, the red blood cells start breaking down, which gives the lungs a grayish or yellow color. However, the liver still has consistency. When red blood cells start disintegrating, a type of large white blood cell, Macrophages, begin to develop.
Stage 4: Resolution
This is the final stage of pneumonia. At this stage, your loved ones will start experiencing better as immune cells get freed from their bodies of infection. However, a productive cough will remain there, which assists to exclude fluid from the lungs.
Pneumonia Treatment & Diagnosis
If you discover that your loved one is suffering from pneumonia, it is recommended to consult a doctor immediately. Treating this disease in the early stage will make faster improvements in your seniors’ health, which further promotes higher results. Otherwise, it puts your loved ones at a higher risk and develops serious health concerns.
Determining what are the beginning and final stages of pneumonia will help in taking the treatment in the right direction.
A doctor will first make a thorough physical examination through various diagnostic tests to find out more about the problem. Once they successfully diagnose the issue, they recommend the proper treatment process. It depends on the type of pneumonia – whether it is caused by bacteria, viruses, or other types of infection. Generally, pneumonia comes suddenly, but it is usually treated with antibiotics.
Viral pneumonia usually develops over several days, which holds flu-like symptoms. Sometimes, antibiotics are not effective against viruses. However, it is quite easy to treat viral pneumonia with supportive care, such as increased fluid intake, over-the-counter medications, and rest.
Seniors or parents who suffer from severe pneumonia symptoms along with other health issues might need to be hospitalized. Many hospitals provide proper care and treatment to fight against viral infections. They provide treatments, including intravenous (IV) antibiotics, respiratory therapy, and oxygen therapy. Some people prefer to hire in-home caregivers to assist their seniors with necessary things. They also look for signs and symptoms of complications. The following tests may be used to confirm the diagnosis:
- Chest X-ray
- Blood tests
- Sputum culture
- Pulse oximetry
- Chest CT scan
- Pleural fluid culture
How Justin Villa’s Caregivers Take Care of Pneumonia Patients?
Pneumonia recovery might take several days to weeks. However, older adults experiencing such problems may take a longer time to get back to normal – especially if they are suffering from other chronic medical conditions.
So, if your seniors or elders are experiencing a bout of pneumonia, they also require temporary or ongoing in-home caregiving assistance, depending on their current condition. These professionals will not only assist with bathing, toileting, dressing and grooming, but also provide proper care and help with shopping and meal preparation, as well as other light household duties.
Contact Justin Villa Care LLC
Justin Villa Care LLC is a certified and professional in-home caregiving agency in Orange County, helping families and their seniors with their required personal care needs. We have a qualified professional who keeps an eye on the signs of pneumonia and promptly alerts you.
We, at Justin Villa Care, are available to discuss your loved one’s requirements and provide a proper in-home care consultation.
Want to know more about how our in-home caregiving services help your senior loved ones? Contact us today to get a free consultation.