Pneumonia is a preventable condition, but you need a strong immune system to resist the infection. Pneumonia is inflammation of the lung tissue caused by a virus, bacteria, or fungus. It may be contagious if caused by an infectious microbe. But if it is caused by chemical fumes or other poisons, then it is not contagious.
As we age, the risk of pneumonia increases, because our immune system becomes weaker, so it is less successful in fighting off illness. Let’s examine the causes of pneumonia in the elderly and look at some ways to boost our immune system naturally to better prevent pneumonia.
Causes of pneumonia in elderly
There are different types of pneumonia, but it is mainly caused by a bacteria, virus, or fungus. Pneumonia can range in severity and can be categorized by where or how you develop it. Pneumonia causes vary depending on where the infection as acquired. Pneumonia contracted in a hospital is known as hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP). If contracted outside a hospital, it is known as community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). In either case, the pneumonia is caused by bacteria.
Common bacteria that cause bacterial pneumonia include Streptococcus pneumonia (most common form, lives in the throat and mouth), Haemophilus influenzae (lives in the upper respiratory tract), Klebsiella pneumonia (lives in the mouth, on the skin, or digestive tract), and Staphylococcus aureus (commonly affects drug users, patients with chronic illness, and young children, lives on the skin or in the pharynx or intestine).
Anyone of any age can develop bacterial pneumonia, but there are certain factors that can increase one’s risk of contracting infection. Risk factors for bacterial pneumonia include:
- Being an infant or child
- Being a senior
Living with impaired or weakened immune system
- Using immunosuppressant drugs for a long time
- Having chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Using inhaled steroids for a long time
Tips to boost immune system in elderly
The key to boosting your immune system is to follow a healthy lifestyle as much as possible. This involves eating healthy meals, exercising regularly, not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and minimizing your alcohol consumption. Eating right provides your body with essential nutrients that work to boost the immune system. Eating unhealthy brings loads of toxins into the system and starves your body of the essential nutrients it needs.
Regular exercise can help improve heart function, keeping a steady blood supply throughout your body. The many parts of your body require blood in order to perform their functions. If there is limited blood and oxygen, then cells and tissues can begin to lose their function and die off, thus weakening the immune system.
Being overweight, too, can increase your risk of many health complications, which can further put strain on your immune system. It’s important to maintain a healthy weight as a means of staying healthy and warding off illness that can harm your immune system.
Lastly, it’s highly important that you reduce stress or control it as much as possible. Stress is quite taxing on the body, and chronic stress can have lasting detrimental effects. When you are stressed, cortisol is released, and if you are constantly stressed, cortisol remains in the body. Stress and its side effects include a rise in blood pressure, a quicker beating heart, and other effects, which can all contribute to a weaker immune system. You may find that during times of high stress you are more likely to catch a cold or other illness. This is because your body is being beaten down from inside as a result of stress.
Finding effective natural ways to manage your stress can help you boost your immune system and stay healthy.
If you follow these tips, you can have a better chance of boosting your immune function and keeping your immune system healthy. This way you can lower your risk of developing pneumonia, which can be life-threatening for seniors.