Pneumonia and flu a bad combination

Doctors say just because flu activity has slowed, don't let your guard down yet.

Posted: Feb 26, 2018 6:38 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Many have died across the country due to the flu this season. For patients, complications from the flu can play a large role in that.

The CDC says deaths from pneumonia and flu are up in Indiana this week. Resident Jane Totten says she's especially careful this time of year.

Wabash Valley resident and pulmonary rehab patient, Jane Totten, shares more about the certain risks she faces during cold and flu season. (WTHI Photo, Lacey Clifton)

She says, "I'm kind of unique. I have one lung. I had a lung removed when I was 20 due to histoplasmosis, which is the fungus from pigeons."

The Centers for Disease control says the worst of the flu season may be behind us. The number of doctor visits for flu symptoms fell to about one out of 16. But again, the concern is still flu-related complications like pneumonia.

Totten says, "For me it's especially a trying time. I have to be really careful about what I do. Make sure I get my pneumonia shot, my flu shot, and just try to have good hand washing techniques."

If you've had the flu, you know it takes a lot out of you. Union Hospital Registered Respiratory Therapist Jimmy McKanna says someone battling both diseases are at greater risk of being hospitalized or death.

He says, "So you have a weakened immune system and maybe you stopped drinking as much, so your mucus in your airways gets kind of thick, it's hard to get up. Everything stops working the way it should."

As far as pneumonia is concerned, the disease targets lung function. McKanna says this can have a horrible impact on your body.

He says, "When that system gets taxed with a virus or bacterial infection, you're going to become short of breath. That's going to decrease the amount of oxygen you get to your blood cells, therefore the rest of your organs are going to be affected by that."

Of course pulmonary rehab patients like Jane are at a higher risk of having complications. But McKanna says the usual flu-affected age groups need to stay on their toes.

McKanna says, "They don't have as much functional lung tissue at the upper ages, and then at the younger ages, just smaller size of airwaves. It doesn't take a whole lot to clog them up, or inflammation inside of them to close them off."

McKanna adds another risk factor to the equation, which is smoking. "The number one thing that will increase somebody's probability of getting pneumonia is if they smoke. Because you're no longer using your cilia in your air way the way you should. You're deadening them, so that mucus is not pushed out the way it should."

Jane herself had pneumonia a few years ago and she says it really took a toll on her. She shares what she learned from the experience.

Totten says, "I’m one of these people who wait until the very last minute. I will use everything in my cabinet before I make the trip to the ER, and that's not a good thing. Don't be a hero whenever you know you're in trouble and need help."

McKanna says there are three types of pneumonia, and they're all treated differently. For that reason he says reach out to your doctor for testing as soon as possible.

To view the latest flu and pneumonia data from the Centers for Disease Control, click here

Terre Haute
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 46°
Robinson
Clear
47° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 47°
Indianapolis
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 51°
Rockville
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 51°
Casey
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 57°
Brazil
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 46°
Marshall
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 46°
Clear, Chilly Overnight
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1665777

Reported Deaths: 27840
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook63126111168
DuPage1074651374
Will906981118
Lake795261076
Kane68004866
Winnebago40745559
Madison39883590
St. Clair36147591
McHenry34415322
Champaign26859196
Peoria26749368
Sangamon25613284
McLean22871216
Tazewell20525330
Rock Island18699358
Kankakee17795247
Kendall16104113
Macon15222250
LaSalle14954285
Vermilion14202198
Adams13072152
DeKalb12078133
Williamson11998174
Whiteside8247181
Jackson806594
Boone787583
Coles7843121
Ogle752487
Grundy731786
Franklin7276114
Knox7197169
Clinton7095102
Macoupin6893104
Marion6871143
Henry659876
Effingham655499
Jefferson6492142
Livingston594697
Stephenson577592
Woodford573592
Randolph552399
Christian530382
Monroe5236100
Fulton521674
Morgan503899
Logan492574
Montgomery487680
Lee476960
Bureau441189
Saline431769
Perry430375
Fayette428964
Iroquois418177
McDonough372360
Shelby343147
Jersey334253
Crawford330830
Lawrence329932
Douglas324737
Union305448
Wayne299961
White278533
Richland278457
Hancock271935
Clark264939
Cass264730
Pike262658
Clay257354
Edgar255249
Bond255024
Warren242765
Ford242259
Carroll235638
Moultrie228833
Johnson223831
Wabash216619
Jo Daviess214529
Massac213748
Mason211652
Washington211428
Greene204540
De Witt204230
Mercer202235
Piatt200614
Cumberland188526
Menard171013
Jasper160521
Marshall140921
Hamilton133322
Schuyler106410
Brown10589
Pulaski103711
Edwards102518
Stark80928
Gallatin7848
Alexander71312
Scott7116
Henderson69614
Calhoun6862
Hardin59416
Putnam5604
Pope5446
Unassigned1582433
Out of IL90

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 996341

Reported Deaths: 16245
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1343262101
Lake658231151
Allen57160791
Hamilton45963460
St. Joseph43954607
Elkhart35546503
Vanderburgh31975473
Tippecanoe27694256
Johnson24821440
Hendricks23647353
Porter22735362
Madison18538404
Clark18383248
Vigo17274300
Monroe15117197
LaPorte14987249
Delaware14931256
Howard14574286
Kosciusko12166147
Hancock11597175
Bartholomew11447179
Warrick11225188
Floyd10983214
Wayne10840248
Grant9898217
Morgan9361176
Boone8819115
Dubois8210129
Dearborn815492
Henry8107150
Noble7944106
Marshall7786134
Cass7462119
Lawrence7379168
Shelby7115114
Jackson691788
Gibson6480113
Harrison641591
Huntington630299
Knox6269105
DeKalb623796
Montgomery6184109
Miami586595
Putnam573477
Clinton567171
Whitley558055
Steuben550473
Wabash5250101
Jasper520475
Jefferson504695
Ripley492485
Adams472773
Daviess4596112
Scott433968
Greene421196
Wells419787
Clay418460
White414261
Decatur4118101
Fayette402186
Jennings383260
Posey374243
LaGrange352078
Washington352049
Randolph339999
Spencer336442
Fountain331858
Sullivan326652
Starke310868
Owen310169
Fulton304566
Orange290562
Jay278445
Perry264452
Franklin262742
Carroll258232
Rush257232
Vermillion254254
Parke229726
Pike227343
Tipton225659
Blackford187840
Pulaski181155
Crawford158122
Newton155648
Benton150117
Brown144047
Martin137319
Switzerland133911
Warren120116
Union106615
Ohio84012
Unassigned0532