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The model and actress Kim Porter was found dead yesterday at the age of 47 in her home in California. While the cause of death is still undetermined, was reported was reported pneumonia in the weeks leading up to her death.
Although pneumonia is certainly unpleasant and can be dangerous in some cases, it usually improves with treatment within a few weeks. How does a person – especially a young person, when Porter was actually killed by the disease – die of pneumonia? Health spoke with Tanaya Bhowmick, MD, Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Jersey, to find out.
What is pneumonia?
First a refresher: Pneumonia is a pneumonia caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi. Like colds or flu, it often spreads through coughing, sneezing, or touching germinal surfaces (and touching your face) at this time of the year. Speaking of flu, pneumonia can even be a complication of a serious attack with the influenza virus; According to the American Lung Association (ALA), flu is a common cause of adult pneumonia. (More on how to protect the flu from pneumonia.)
When the guilty virus, bacterium, or fungus enters your lungs, air bubbles, called alveoli, can fill with fluid. This inflammation leads to the classic symptoms of pneumonia such as cough, fever and shortness of breath. (Related: 8 signs that your cough could actually be pneumonia)
How can you die of pneumonia?
Yes, pneumonia can kill ̵
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 million Americans are hospitalized each year with pneumonia. and about 50,000 die from the disease.
How does someone die of pneumonia?
Pneumonia must be pretty hard to kill someone Bhowmick. The lungs are naturally responsible for the oxygen supply throughout the body. Pneumonia threatens your oxygen tank. "If it's so hard that it essentially cuts off the oxygen supply, then the rest of your vital organs will not get enough oxygen," she explains.
At the same time, a person's body also triggers an inflammatory response to ward off the infection, Dr. Bhowmick. However, this can lead to changes in blood pressure, which in turn can reduce the blood supply to these organs. This is a dangerous combination, she explains, because it not only reduces blood supply but also reduces blood oxygen. "This leads to abnormalities in heart function and kidney function – the organs stop working," says Dr. Bhowmick, "and that leads to death." (Related: Why do some people die from the flu?)
Who is the most? Risk?
As with many other illnesses, the healthier the ability of a person to fend off pneumonia, the greater the ability. Pneumonia is more likely to be fatal or even fatal in someone of any age in infants, adults over the age of 65 and people with underlying health problems or a weakened immune system such as a cancer or HIV-infected person.
In a treatment that varies according to the type of pneumonia, most people improve within one to three weeks. This is more likely if you are younger than 65 years old and are generally healthy and your pneumonia is caught early enough that it has not spread according to ALA. (Related: 7 states that feel like a flu – but they are not)
How can someone with pneumonia stay safe?
"Finding a doctor is the most important thing," says Dr. Bhowmick. It can help determine what type of pneumonia you have and what type of treatment you may need. (For example, antibiotics are only helpful against bacterial pneumonia, while some people may benefit from a viral infection of antiviral drugs.)
No matter what type of pneumonia you have, you want to stay hydrated and drink a lot. Bhowmick adds. This rest period is crucial, according to the ALA, since going back to work or to the gym before you fully recover can lead to relapse of the infection. (See also: 7 Immunopipants for a Healthier Winter)
Of course, it's even better if you never get pneumonia. A smart first step? Get your flu vaccine because the virus can lead to pneumonia. Talk to your doctor if you are older than 65 or if you are chronically ill. You may be a good candidate for one of two pneumonia vaccines that protect against certain bacteria. (Related: Is it too late to get the flu shot?)
It never hurts you to religiously wash your hands, adds dr. Bhowmick does your best to avoid people who are sneezing or coughing.
This story was originally published on Health.com by Sarah Klein.