Health News

First Comes Flu, Then Comes Pneumonia

Centra Care Sees Record Number of Pneumonia Cases
Centra Care physicians have treated a record breaking number of flu cases this season, so it’s not surprising that pneumonia is now on the rise. Battling the flu can weaken one’s immune system and can lead to possible complications like pneumonia.

Centra Care clinics have already seen an increase of more than 100% from this time last year, going from 53 pneumonia cases in the first two weeks of 2012, to already reaching 125 cases in 2013. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 7.3% of US deaths last week were related to pneumonia and influenza complications.

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs with symptoms that can mimic the flu. For adults, most cases are caused by a bacterial infection, while most pediatric pneumonia cases are caused by viruses, including the flu, RSV and parainfluenza virus (which cause croup). Depending on age and overall health, symptoms may include coughing, fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing or shortness of breath, chills, or chest pain.

It is the leading cause of death from infection. The most common cases of pneumonia (known as “walking pneumonia”) can be treated with antibiotics at home, but depending on the severity, a person may need to be hospitalized.

Often, pneumonia begins after an upper respiratory infection, with symptoms of pneumonia beginning after 2 or 3 days of a cold or flu. Pneumonia can be easily diagnosed with a chest x-ray. While it is a relatively common infection of the lungs, it can be dangerous, especially for those at high-risk for developing complications including: young children, pregnant women, as well as people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.

Pneumonia “season” goes hand in hand with wintertime flu. So with flu season being far from over, Centra Care physicians advise the public to practice flu and pneumonia prevention.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and keep your hands away from your face.
  • Regularly cleaning countertop surfaces helps prevent the spread of pneumonia causing germs.
  • Stay away from people who have the flu, especially if you are at high-risk for developing flu-related complications, such as pneumonia.
  • The flu is a common cause of pneumonia, so getting both pneumonia and flu vaccines are an important way to help prevent pneumonia, particularly if you are in the high-risk category.