Metabolic Health
Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

Diabetes and Pneumonia: What Is the Link?

Pneumonia is a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection that affects one or both the lungs at once. The infection causes inflammation in the alveoli, which are the lungs' air sacs. The alveoli get clogged with fluid or pus, making breathing difficult. 

Bacterial and viral pneumonia are contagious. They can spread from person to person through the inhalation of airborne droplets from a cough or sneeze and viruses or bacteria-contaminated surfaces and objects. 

Diabetes is a long-term illness with a variety of symptoms to deal with. Diabetes weakens the immune system, making the person more susceptible to dangerous illnesses like pneumonia.

Diabetes-related high blood sugar levels make it difficult for the body to fight pneumonia. This can result in more severe pneumonia and greater consequences, including organ failure, respiratory failure, and death. Therefore, it is said that diabetes and pneumonia are linked.

To lower the risk of pneumonia, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone with diabetes over the age of two get a pneumonia injection. 

Diabetes also increases the risk of more severe cases of pneumonia.

Adults with chronic illnesses like diabetes are at a higher risk of contracting pneumonia. This is because diabetes impairs your immune system. High blood sugar levels make it challenging for white blood cells to fight infections when you have diabetes.

Diabetes can wreak havoc on your immune system by affecting your circulation and neurons. It also makes it more difficult for your body to combat infections once they occur. People with diabetes are at an elevated risk of developing severe or deadly pneumonia.

Signs and Symptoms of Pneumonia ?

Pneumonia can range in severity from minor to severe. Pneumonia signs and symptoms include:

• Fever

• Sweating and chills.

• Difficulty in breathing

• Faster heartbeat

• Chest discomfort

• Coughing

• Loss of appetite.

• Coughing up phlegm

• Nausea or vomiting.

• Brain disorientation

Severity of Pneumonia in Diabetes?

People with diabetes are more likely to get severe pneumonia. Diabetes has been linked to longer hospital admissions, more comorbidities, and a higher chance of pneumonia death. The risk is increased when blood sugar levels are high during a pneumonia infection.

However, it is not always true that diabetic patients suffer from severe pneumonia. Patients have shown a better prognosis if early therapy and timely treatment are sought. 

The type and severity of your pneumonia determine how quickly you recover. Some people respond well to at-home treatment and improve within a week or two. Others will require extensive medical treatment in a hospital and may experience fatigue long after the infection has cleared.

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Pneumonia Treatment with Diabetes

Rest and medication are typically enough to get rid of a moderate case of pneumonia and get you feeling better. If your symptoms disappear, you must finish your medication course, or the infection will return.

If the infection returns, the bacteria that infected you may resist that antibiotic, leaving you with only one less efficient treatment option.

More severe forms of pneumonia may involve hospitalisation and, in certain cases, surgical operations to remove excess fluid. After recovering from pneumonia, people with diabetes may need to be regularly followed to ensure there are no long-term consequences.

Complications of Pneumonia due to Diabetes?

Not everyone with diabetes who contracts pneumonia may experience complications. Complications are more frequent in patients with diabetes because pneumonia is more likely to be severe.

Pneumonia complications for patients with diabetes may include:

Abscesses in the lungs: A lung abscess is a pus-filled cavity inside your lung that requires antibiotics, drainage, or surgery to repair.

Pleural effusion is a fluid that collects around your lungs, in the membranes that border your lungs and inside your rib cage. If this fluid becomes infectious, it must be evacuated.

Breathing problems: severe pneumonia might cause difficulty in breathing. Sometimes patients need a ventilator. 

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a life-threatening condition. When fluid builds up in the lungs' tiny air sacs (alveoli), it causes pneumonia. People suffering from ARDS frequently develop respiratory failure and are unable to breathe independently.

Infection in the bloodstream:  Bacteremia is a blood infection that can spread and cause low blood pressure and septic shock. It can lead to organ failure in severe circumstances.

Damage to the organs: The kidneys, heart, and liver can all be harmed by a shortage of oxygen in the body. Patients with diabetes are more likely to suffer from renal damage.

Life-threatening: Severe Pneumonia can be lethal.

How can one prevent getting pneumonia?

Pneumonia is more likely if you have diabetes. There are, however, things you can do to reduce your risk. 

Getting vaccinated against pneumonia: The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends anyone with diabetes over the age of 2 have a pneumonia immunisation. They also suggest taking two extra doses after you reach the age of 65. 

Getting vaccinated against the flu: Pneumonia can be a side effect of the flu. That's why getting an annual flu vaccination is a good idea, even if you already have a pneumonia vaccine.

Stop smoking: Smoking damages your lungs and makes you more susceptible to pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses. Quitting smoking reduces the chances of getting infected.

Maintaining a healthy blood sugar level can aid in the strengthening of your immune system.

Maintaining good health, staying active and eating a well-balanced diet might assist your body fight infection.

Washing your hands frequently and practising excellent hygiene might help you avoid pneumonia and other diseases.

Bottomline

Pneumonia is more prevalent if you have diabetes. This can make it more difficult to fight infections once they have developed. There are things you may do to lessen your risk of contracting pneumonia. If you have any symptoms that you think might be pneumonia, see a doctor immediately.

FAQs

Can pneumonia heal on its own?

Yes, when pneumonia is mild, it might go away on its own.

Walking pneumonia is a type of pneumonia that is mild enough to allow you to continue your daily activities during the sickness. It may seem like a nasty cold and go away with self-care, but your doctor can determine whether you require further treatment.

What are the four stages of pneumonia?

Lobar Pneumonia is the most deadly variant of pneumonia. It infects the entire lobe of the lung. It is categorised into four stages: 

Congestion: The first stage is marked by the spread of infection in one of the lobes. This stage usually lasts for a day. Lungs become red and inflamed by this stage. 

Red hepatization: This stage lasts for a few days. By this stage, alveoli are unable to filter oxygen and other gases into the blood. Fibrous tissue accumulates around the alveoli, and the lungs become firm and dry. 

Grey hepatization: This stage appears a couple of days after the second stage. The spread of fibrous tissue increases and RBCs are destroyed. This leads to greying or discolouration of tissues of the lung.

Resolution: This is the recovery phase of lobar pneumonia. By this stage, immune cells and enzymes start creating defence mechanisms against the infection, fibrous tissues start dissolving, and alveoli start regaining functionality.  

References

  • https://www.healthline.com/health/pneumonia/whats-the-connection-between-diabetes-and-pneumonia

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