Pneumonia is a common illness, affecting hundreds of millions of people each year. It is an infection that develops in the lungs after we are exposed to a trigger, which can be bacterial, viral, or fungal. Symptoms may include fatigue, rapid breathing or shortness of breath, headache, loss of appetite, cough, nausea and vomiting, and fever.
Pneumonia complications can wreak havoc on a person's lungs and body. Many people recovering from pneumonia continue to feel exhaustion and general fatigue for weeks afterward, which affects their ability to perform simple tasks and live independently at home. Regaining strength after pneumonia is possible with a commitment to proper nutrition, physical activity, and rest. However, it is not an overnight process. It can take anywhere from one week to several months to recover fully, depending on the patient’s age, severity of illness, type of pneumonia, and other health conditions.
As per a report by World Health Organisation (WHO), pneumonia claimed the lives of 2.5 million, including 672,000 children, in 2019 alone. Overall, India accounts for 23 percent of the pneumonia burden globally and case fatality rates range between 14 and 30 percent. To get insights on pneumonia recovery, OnlyMyHealth editorial team spoke to Arushi Jain, Director, Akums Drugs & Pharmaceuticals ltd.
Tips For Pneumonia Recovery
1. Rest and Exercise
A healthy dose of rest and exercise is necessary for people recovering from pneumonia. It is crucial to listen to signals from your body when recovering from pneumonia. Stay home until your fever breaks and your coughing is at least minimal. Staying home and resting not only improves your recovery, it also protects anyone you come into contact with from getting sick.
You should only exercise in small increments at first, perhaps starting with a short walk down the street or ten minutes of stretching. Over time you will be able to build back up to your regular fitness routine. Before starting any exercise, it is important to talk to your provider about how much activity is right for you.
2. Eat Well
Eat a healthy and balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, wholegrain foods and low-fat dairy products. Nutrient-rich foods are known to help our bodies and fight illnesses as well as heal from them, so focusing on a healthy diet will likely shorten your recovery time, too. When it comes to addressing the weakness and fatigue associated with pneumonia, experts suggest the following:
- Plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. According to doctors, one should drink at least eight glasses of water per day.
- Foods containing vitamin D (fatty fish, cheese, mushroom, eggs, milk)
- Foods containing vitamin C (orange, lemon, gooseberry, pomegranate)
- Foods containing vitamin E (almond, peanut, spinach, avocado)
- Foods containing iron (chicken, shellfish, oatmeal, beans, spinach, peas).
What you put into your body has a direct impact on your recovery from pneumonia, which is why patients are advised to stop smoking, limit caffeine intake, avoid alcohol consumption, and reduce stressors.
3. Seek Help
Do not hesitate to ask for help when it comes to errands, chores, and other activities as you recover. Recovering without any help can be difficult and overwhelming. You may have to refrain from some of your normal social activity as well, to allow your body plenty of time to rest and heal.
4. Complete Prescription Medication
Make sure to complete the full course of any antibiotics, even if you’re feeling better. It is important that you take all your medicines as prescribed. If you stop too soon, the bacterial infection and your pneumonia may revive.
Pneumonia can be incredibly taxing and there's no one-size-fits-all to recovery. Make sure to check in with your doctor regularly to determine the best steps for recovery.