Co-host of ‘The View’, Whoopi Goldberg just announced that she had been absent from the talk show as she came “very, very close to leaving this Earth”.
She had been fighting both pneumonia and sepsis, and these two illness’ nearly killed her. While she is now on the slow path to recovery, pneumonia, and sepsis can be very serious, and life-threatening – this is what you should know about them.
Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in either one or both of the lungs. This illness can be caused by a wide variety of bacteria, fungi or viruses, which enter the lungs through our breath.
While this infection ranges in severity, the air sacs may fill with fluid and symptoms of pneumonia commonly include a cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a type of bacteria that may be responsible for more than 10 percent of pneumonia cases. Influenza, better known as the flu, also has the potential to cause pneumonia, too.
Severity is determined by who is affected by it. If you have a weakened or compromised immune system, you would be at a higher risk of catching a serious case. Young children and the elderly would also fall into this category.
While pneumonia is the eighth highest cause for death, not all cases require hospitalization. Survival from pneumonia has improved significantly over time. Recovery can take from six to eight weeks and mild cases can be treated in as little as five days with antibiotics.
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Complications from pneumonia are what can make this a much more serious illness.
If pleural effusion occurs, a complication known as “water in the lungs”. In these cases, fluid accumulates near the infection and in some cases, this fluid can turn into pus. While this can be treated with antibiotics, if this condition doesn’t improve, the fluid and pus will likely need to be drained with a needle in a procedure called thoracentesis.
When fluid build up blocks the transfer of oxygen from the air we breathe into our blood, respiratory failure can begin. This complication may result in the use of a breathing machine complete by placing a tube down the throat in order to control the patient’s breathing.
A potentially life-threatening condition caused by the body’s response to an infection is sepsis. This severe complication occurs when the bacteria that cause pneumonia, spread to the blood. This is an extremely serious condition and requires immediate hospitalization and an intravenous course of antibiotics. If symptoms of pneumonia worsen to the point of dropped blood pressure, fast heart rate, increased breathing rate, fever and a decrease in blood oxygen – then they’re considered to have sepsis.
While sepsis can develop from any kind of infection, pneumonia is the leading cause of sepsis. This complication is considered to be the worst outcome, as mortality rates from sepsis can be as high as 15 percent.
Keep Your Immune System Strong
Your first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle. This is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system strong and healthy. Every part of your body functions better when we work to support our best health:
- Don’t smoke
- Include colorful vegetables in every meal
- Supplement with a juiced greens powder for added phytonutrient benefits
- Eat more whole fresh foods and less packaged and pre-made foods
- Move your body daily
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Be extremely mindful of alcohol consumption
- Get adequate sleep
- Minimize stress and support your mental health
High-risk groups for pneumonia include the elderly, children under two-years-old, smokers, alcoholics, diabetics and those with a compromised immune system. If you’re concerned that you may be at high-risk, speak to your medical doctor about modalities to prevent this illness.
Encourage your health and wellness by following a healthy lifestyle which supports your immune system. Pneumonia can develop into something serious and potentially fatal for those who are at high-risk. However non-severe pneumonia cases can now be easily treated. However, prevention is key.
- Mortality in the United States, 2017, https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db328.htm
- Three day versus five day treatment with amoxicillin for non-severe pneumonia, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC383371/
- Incidence and Trends of Sepsis in US Hospitals Using Clinical vs Claims Data, 2009-2014, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2654187
- Pneumococcal Vaccination, https://www.cdc.gov/pneumococcal/vaccination.html
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