How Dangerous Is Community Acquired Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a common respiratory illness that affects millions of Americans every year. Bacteria are the most common cause of community-acquired pneumonia and bacteria living in your mouth, nose or sinuses can simply spread to your lungs. You can also breathe bacteria, viruses or fungi directly into your lungs or accidentally inhale food, vomit or liquids from your mouth into the lungs. Viruses, such as influenza, are a common cause of viral pneumonia. Walking pneumonia is a much milder form of the disease caused by a type of atypical bacteria called mycoplasma pneumoniae. Fungi can cause pneumonia in people whose immune systems are medically compromised. The most common cause of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is streptococcus pneumoniae.
Risk Factors for Catching Pneumonia
There are common factors that increase a person's risk for catching pneumonia, such as being under 2 years old or older than 65. Having a suppressed immune system like HIV/AIDS, other respiratory conditions like asthma, or using inhaled corticosteroids for long periods also can increase your risk, as well as:
- Chronic Lung Disease or COPD
- Dementia or Cerebral Palsy
- Brain Disorders
- Cigarette Smoking
- Immune System Problems
- Organ Transplants
- Chronic Illnesses
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Recent Surgery or Trauma
- Cancer of Mouth or Throat
Most people with walking pneumonia do not seek professional care as their symptoms are quite mild. However, doctors use the same approach to diagnose both walking pneumonia and all forms of community-acquired pneumonia. Treating other types of the disease, such as hospital acquired pneumonia (HAP), follows a different protocol. In most CAP cases, your doctor will swab your throat and take a chest X-ray.
How to Help Your Body Heal from CAP
While cases of walking pneumonia are usually much milder, it can have a longer recovery period of up to about six weeks. If your immune system is weak, or your particular case is more severe, your recovery may take longer. Moreover, you can expect to recover from community acquired pneumonia in about a week to 10 days. Bacterial variations of pneumonia typically show immediate improvement as soon as antibiotics are prescribed. Unlike other types of pneumonia, people diagnosed with walking pneumonia usually do not have a severe shortness of breath, high fever, or mucous hacking cough. Nonetheless, every type of pneumonia is very contagious, so make sure you wash your hands more often than usual.