There are diseases that are easy to neglect because the initial symptoms are similar to those of a cold, such as fever, chills, cough, and phlegm. The problem is that, if not treated properly, symptoms worsen rapidly and cause various complications, which can lead to death in the elderly in severe cases. That’s pneumonia.
According to the 2019 statistics on the cause of death by the National Statistical Office, pneumonia, which ranked fourth until 2017, overtook cerebrovascular disease and ranks third as the third leading cause of death after cancer and heart disease. Pneumonia is an inflammatory respiratory disease caused by bacteria, viruses, mycoplasma, fungi, etc. in the bronchi and lung parenchyma.
Pulmonary symptoms and systemic symptoms throughout the body appear. Pulmonary symptoms include coughing due to irritation of the respiratory system, sputum due to the discharge of inflammatory substances, and difficulty breathing due to impaired breathing function. If the inflammation extends to the pleura that surrounds the lungs, you may feel pain when breathing. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur. Systemic diseases such as headache, fatigue, muscle pain, and joint pain can occur throughout the body. You may also complain of fever or chills.
◆ How to distinguish between cold-like pneumonia and symptoms
In the case of pneumonia occurring in the elderly, the onset progresses gradually or there is no fever. 20% of geriatric pneumonia patients infected outside the hospital did not have a fever at the time of admission, and even though the bacteria entered the bloodstream and accompanied by bacteremia, there were cases where there was no fever. This is because the fever mechanism can work only when the whole body is in good condition.
According to Professor Jang Bok-soon of Kyunghee University Hospital in Gangdong, geriatric pneumonia does not show the characteristic symptoms of pneumonia, and it is characterized by anorexia, general weakness, weakness, confusion, nonsense, boiling sputum, cyanosis with blue lips or hands and feet, cold hands and feet, and stool and urine. Only vague and indistinct symptoms, such as inability to cover the
In the early stages of pneumonia, symptoms similar to those of a cold appear, such as fever, chills, and cough. If it is mistaken for a cold and left unattended, it can lead to serious symptoms such as high fever, cough and chest pain, and difficulty breathing. Even if you think it is a common cold symptom, if you have a high fever, cough, and yellow sputum for more than three days, you should suspect pneumonia and seek medical attention. Professor Jang Bok-soon said, “Especially, the elderly may not show typical symptoms of pneumonia. If you have no energy for no reason, lack of appetite, or keep getting sleepy, you should suspect pneumonia.”
Pneumonia among the elderly continues to increase. According to the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service’s Statistics on Diseases of Public Interest, the number of hospital visits for pneumonia continued to decrease, while the number of patients aged 60 and over steadily increased. Pneumonia is a fatal disease in elderly people with weakened immune systems, which can lead to death if not properly treated. If healthy adults are given antibiotics that kill bacteria in the lungs and get enough rest, symptoms may improve within 1 to 2 weeks, but children or the elderly with low immunity, or underlying diseases such as diabetes, asthma, tuberculosis, etc. does not Even complications such as sepsis, lung abscess, and shock can come.
◆ The best prevention is vaccination
Vaccination is the best way to prevent pneumonia in high-risk groups such as the elderly and chronically ill. Pneumococci are classified into serotypes according to the difference in the chemical structure of the capsular polysaccharides on the cell surface, and about 90 serotypes have been identified so far. Currently, there are two main types of pneumococcal vaccines used in adults: the 23-valent polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) containing 23 serotypes and the 13-valent protein-conjugated vaccine (PCV13) containing 13 serotypes. The 13-valent vaccine, a protein-conjugated vaccine, is known to be effective in preventing pneumonia.
Currently, people over the age of 65 can receive the 23-valent vaccine free of charge. If vaccinated against pneumococcal disease, 65-84% of patients with chronic diseases can expect a preventive effect. It is recommended that you consult with a medical professional before administering the vaccination, as only one inoculation is effective.
In order to prevent respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, it is important to maintain a physical rhythm with sufficient rest, water intake, and regular meals and exercise. Avoid crowded places and wash your hands after outdoor activities. When washing your hands, thoroughly pay attention to personal hygiene, such as rubbing every corner for at least 30 seconds after soaping. It is best to avoid smoking as it can lower the lungs’ defense capacity and increase the risk of developing the disease. The room temperature is 26-28 degrees and the humidity is maintained at 40-50%.
Reporter Kim Seong-eun [email protected]
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