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Why the Risk of Pneumonia Increases in Diabetics?

Pneumonia is a respiratory infection and around 1 million adults are hospitalized with this condition every year(1). Diabetes is a chronic condition with a variety of symptoms to manage. It weakens the immune system and increases the risk of pneumonia. It leads to an increase in blood sugar levels that decreases the body’s ability to fight pneumonia once it develops. This can increase the severity of pneumonia and cause further complications such as organ damage, respiratory failure, and even death. It is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that every person with diabetes should get a pneumonia shot to reduce the risk of disease(2).

Why the Risk of Pneumonia Increases in Diabetics?

Why the Risk of Pneumonia Increases in Diabetics?

People with chronic conditions like diabetes have a greater risk of pneumonia(3). It weakens the immune system and makes it difficult for the white blood cells to fight infection. The immune system weakens in diabetics as the circulation and nerves are impaired. This increases the risk of infections including pneumonia and also affects the body’s ability to fight any illness as they develop. Diabetes also increases the risk of cases of pneumonia that are severe or fatal. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports people with diabetes are 3 times more likely to die of flu or pneumonia(4).

Symptoms of Pneumonia

Pneumonia can be mild or severe and cannot get better without treatment. It can be dangerous and can lead to serious complications. The symptoms of pneumonia include:

How to Prevent Getting Pneumonia?

Diabetes increases the risk of pneumonia, which can be prevented by following a few steps.

  • Pneumonia Shot: It is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for every person above the age of 2 years to get a pneumonia shot. For those above 65 years, 2 or more shots are recommended. It is better to speak with a medical professional to know what is best for you.
  • Flu Shot: Flu complicates to pneumonia and therefore, it is better to get an annual flu shot.
  • Quit Smoking: Smoking weakens the lungs and increases the risk of pneumonia and also other respiratory infections. Quitting smoking can be helpful in preventing infections.
  • Managing Diabetes: Keeping blood sugar under control helps in strengthening the immune system, which can help in fighting any kind of illness and also prevent worsening.
  • Maintain Overall Health: Eating a balanced diet and staying active can keep the body healthy and also help in fighting off infection.
  • Wash Hands Regularly: Good hygiene such as washing hands, wearing clean clothes can help in avoiding pneumonia and other infections.

The Severity of Pneumonia in People with Diabetes

Diabetes increases the risk for pneumonia and this is due to the high levels of sugar in the blood that prevents the infection from healing. A review found a link between diabetes and longer hospital stay, increased complication, and higher chances of death from pneumonia(5).

Pneumonia complicates more in people with diabetes. The complications include:

  • Lung Abscess: It is a cavity that develops inside the lung and is treated using antibiotics, drainage, and surgery.
  • Pleural Effusion: In this condition, fluid develops around the lungs in the membranes that line the lungs and inside the rib cage. This fluid needs to be drained.
  • Impaired Breathing: This result as severe pneumonia makes it difficult to get in enough air while breathing and a person may need ventilator support.
  • Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome: This is a medical emergency that develops when there is a fluid build-up in the small air sacs in the lungs. It often develops as respiratory failure making the patient unable to breathe on their own.
  • Bloodstream Infection: There can be an infection in the bloodstream due to low blood pressure and septic shock, which in severe cases may lead to organ failure.
  • Organ Damage: Lack of oxygen in the blood may lead to organ damage. This is why diabetics have more kidney damage.

Severe pneumonia can also lead to death.

Diabetes increases the risk of several illnesses and also pneumonia. The recovery from any disease is very slow in diabetics, which is why sometimes many conditions aggravate. Steps can be taken to reduce this by keeping the blood sugar level in control. Also, consulting a medical professional is important, be it pneumonia or any other illness.

Also Read:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 3, 2022

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