Bacterial pneumonia risk in HIV patients reduced by quitting smoking

By: Devon Andre | Immune System | Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 12:30 PM

bacterial-pneumonia-risk-in-HIV-patients-reduced-by-quitting-smokingBacterial pneumonia risk in HIV patients is seen to be reduced by quitting smoking. Bacterial pneumonia is a common condition, which affects HIV patients, and among those who smoke, the risk of developing bacterial pneumonia is doubled.

The research conducted a meta-analysis of data on several thousand HIV patients taken from 14 different studies in different countries. Current smoking was associated with a 70 to 100 percent increase in bacterial pneumonia, when compared with non-smokers. But the researchers found that quitting smoking reduced the risk by one-third.

Study lead Prof. Paul Aveyard said, “Antiretroviral treatment means that people with HIV can have a normal life expectancy. However, they still have substantially increased health risks compared to the general population, including risk of pneumonia. Our results show that smokers with HIV have twice the risk of bacterial pneumonia, but that stopping smoking can reduce this risk. In order to prevent this potentially life-threatening lung disease, we believe that smoking cessation programs should be promoted as part of HIV treatment.”

Bacterial pneumonia symptoms and risk factors

Although anyone can develop bacterial pneumonia, there are certain risk factors and groups with a heightened risk. Infants and children, adults over the age of 65, those with weakened immune systems, long-term users of immunosuppressants, patients with COPD or who use inhaled corticosteroids, and smokers are all more likely to develop bacterial pneumonia, compared to the general population.

Symptoms of bacterial pneumonia include:

  • A cough with thick yellow, green, or blood mucus
  • Chest pains that worsen during breathing or coughing
  • Sudden onset of chills
  • Fever over 102 F
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Breathlessness or rapid breathing
  • Severe fatigue
  • Moist, pale skin
  • Confusion (usually seen in seniors)
  • Loss of appetite

Bacterial pneumonia treatment and management

Your doctor will confirm the diagnosis of bacterial pneumonia by listening to your chest, conducting blood work to check white blood cells and to take blood culture, analyzing a sample of mucus, and performing a chest x-ray. Once bacterial pneumonia is confirmed, antibiotics, cough medicine, and fever medication can all be prescribed in order to treat it.

Bacterial pneumonia can be prevented, as there is a vaccine available for at-risk individuals like seniors over the age of 65 and infants. Furthermore, like with many other illnesses, practicing proper hygiene such as washing your hands, staying away from those who are ill, and staying home when you are sick are all ways to prevent bacterial pneumonia. Lastly, if you are a smoker, whether you have HIV or not, your risk for bacterial pneumonia is higher than in non-smokers, so you may want to consider quitting.

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