Fifty-nine-year-old Robert caught the flu last year that was followed by a bout of pneumonia, which required hospitalisation. This year as well, he has developed pneumonia after a bout of flu.
Robert thanks God that no hospitalisation was necessary this time! He asks if his immunity is low and if he should get a flu shot.
Many people don’t realise that a flu infection can worsen and become pneumonia. The flu is caused by a respiratory virus called influenza, which is highly contagious and occurs most often late down in the year .It causes fever, chill, sweating and rigours. This might be followed by a cough with blood-stained mucous and shortness of breath.
Most pneumonias are also caused by a respiratory virus which may not be flu, but the flu most commonly occurs. Most pneumonias are mild and respond well to treatment, but they can also worsen and be life-threatening. The lung is a vital organ and if infection prevents it from providing adequate ventilation, then quality of life and life itself is threatened.
The persons most at risk for flu are the very young, older people and those who are immune compromised, that is, diabetics, people with HIV, nursing home residents, and people taking steroid treatment or cancer treatment.
In most cases, pneumonia will improve in one to three weeks, but older people or persons with pre-existing illness might well take longer to heal. As pneumonia usually follows after a respiratory infection, see your doctor if any symptoms seem to persist after a bout of the flu.
Practise good health habits. Eat healthily, rest, get regular exercise to keep yourself healthy and prevent respiratory infections. Rest even more, drink a lot of fluids and clean water and take vitamin C, probiotics and antioxidants to regain health and energy after a bout of the flu and to build resistance to disease. Taking 30mg of zinc supplements daily has been shown to cut the risk of contracting pneumonias in half.
Please see your doctor if fever persists, if you develop blood-tinged sputum, if you develop shortness of breath, experience trouble breathing or feel chest pain.