The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that around 51,000 people die each year from pneumonia. Pneumonia is a term used to describe lung infections that happen because of viruses, bacteria, or fungi. Pneumonia causes inflammation in the lungs that can make it difficult to breathe. Bronchopneumonia is a specific kind of pneumonia that affects the bronchi. Because people who are 65 and older are more likely to get bronchopneumonia, understanding the condition may help your aging relative to avoid it.
To understand bronchopneumonia, it’s helpful to first know something about the anatomy of the lungs. Bronchi, the part of the lungs affected by bronchopneumonia, are the larger tubes that connect to the trachea, or windpipe. The bronchi branch off into smaller tubes that are called bronchioles. Bronchioles end in alveoli, which are little sacs of air where oxygen enters blood cells and carbon dioxide leaves them.
When a person gets bronchopneumonia, their bronchi become inflamed. In addition, the alveoli fill up with fluid. The buildup of fluid makes it hard to breathe. The symptoms can be mild, but they can also be quite severe, especially in an older adult with a weakened immune system.
Symptoms of Bronchopneumonia
The symptoms of bronchopneumonia are much like the symptoms of other kinds of pneumonia. They include:
- Trouble breathing.
- Pain in the chest that might get worse when the person coughs or takes a big breath.
- A cough that produces mucus.
- Achy muscles.
- Lack of interest in eating.
In addition to the above symptoms, older adults may also experience confusion or delirium. If you notice these symptoms in your aging relative, contact a doctor.
It is possible to lessen the chances of your family member getting pneumonia. Some steps you can take are:
- Vaccines: Talk to the doctor about the senior getting an annual flu shot since the flu can lead to pneumonia. There are also pneumococcal vaccines available. A doctor can decide which shots are appropriate.
- Wash Hands: Frequent hand washing can prevent germs from spreading. Seniors should always wash their hands before eating or preparing food, after using the bathroom, and after blowing
- Quit Smoking: Smoking compromises lung health, raising the odds of getting pneumonia.
Home care can help older adults to prevent pneumonia. A home care provider can help to keep the house cleaner, reducing the risk of spreading germs. Home care providers can also drive your aging relative to get their annual flu shot and other vaccinations.
If you or an aging loved one are considering homecare in Lakewood, NJ, contact the caring staff at Care Street Home Care’s Ocean/Monmouth Division. Call today 732-719-7011.