Pneumonia, when not treated well, can result in severe complications of the lungs. In extreme cases, it can even be fatal. It is often associated with high temperatures and severe bouts of coughing that can drain you of all physical strength.
Apart from medication, one of the best remedies for pneumonia is to get adequate sleep and rest. That can be difficult when you are constantly interrupted by bouts of cough. Improving your sleep quality at this time by finding the correct sleeping positions can help with the recovery.
Understanding how pneumonia can affect your lungs and, likewise, your breathing can be instrumental in treating the problem. It can then help you choose sleep positions that allow your lungs to rest and expand to their fullest so you can take in optimum amounts of oxygen.
That is why many patients suffering from this illness must be put on oxygen support as they cannot breathe in enough oxygen themselves. You feel weak due to lack of oxygen, and this is why getting rest and sleep becomes so important.
What is Pneumonia?
Proper oxygen intake is not an issue for a healthy person because when air fills up the lungs, they can absorb oxygen from it. The oxygen fills up tiny sacs in the lungs called alveoli, and from there, the oxygen is absorbed by the bloodstream to be distributed throughout the body.
However, when you get pneumonia, your lungs are infected, and it can cause moderate to severe inflammation. The air sacs may become filled with pus or fluid, and it causes difficulty in breathing.
The patient breathes heavily and often undergoes an uncomfortable choking sensation due to lack of oxygen. It is crucial to make the patient as comfortable as possible at this stage.
Causes of Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs and can be caused by various kinds of bacteria or viruses. Here are some of the possible causes.
Bacterial infection is the most common reason behind this illness. The most common are Haemophilus influenzae, Legionella pneumophila and Mycoplasma pneumonia.
You may catch pneumonia if you are exposed to an immense cold or just because you have been exposed to the bacteria or virus from someone else who is already suffering from this illness.
Viral infection can also cause pneumonia, and it can be an aggravated form of flu or could be caused by respiratory syncytial virus. The Covid-19 virus has also made patients more susceptible to the illness.
Pneumonia could be caused due to fungal infection when the patient unwittingly breathes in the fungi spores. Often known as Aspergillus, they can not only cause pneumonia but can also affect the immune system.
Pneumonia due to parasitic infection is rare, but it can be very severe when it happens. It is mainly caused by a group of parasites called Strongyloides, and those who already have a compromised immune system can be deeply affected.
How is your Sleep Affected by Pneumonia?
Pneumonia can affect your sleep in various ways, but the most common problem is discomfort during sleeping. Here is why.
Your lungs are infected with pneumonia, and the inflammation can make breathing difficult when trying to sleep. Since there is pus or fluid build-up in your lungs, it could result in persistent coughing, shortness of breath, and even chest pain. That could make it difficult for you to sleep comfortably.
Your heart will have to work double-time to make sure that all your organs are getting enough oxygen. Since your lungs’ power to absorb oxygen reduces, your blood pressure may increase because your heart has to pump more to deliver oxygen. This could result in unrest and affect your sleep.
Disrupted Immune System
Since you are inflicted by bacteria and viruses during pneumonia, your body’s immune system works overtime to ward them off. It also makes you more vulnerable as you are weak and tired.
That will increase the chances of coughing and wheezing, and you may even have a fever and body aches. All of this can make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
You are going to feel very tired when you have pneumonia. With reduced oxygen levels in your body, you are going to feel drained and experience lethargy. This will affect you during the day and make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
Best Sleeping Positions When You Have Pneumonia
Since it is vital to get adequate rest and sleep when trying to recover from pneumonia, finding a good sleeping position that works for you is essential. Here is what you can do.
1. Raise your Head
Keeping your head at an elevated level can reduce the bouts of coughing. It can also improve your breathing. You can use an extra pillow to raise your head while sleeping.
2. Sleep Slightly on the Side
Instead of sleeping absolutely straight, looking at the ceiling may help to sleep slightly on the side. Sleeping straight often puts extra pressure on the lungs, while turning slightly to one side can relieve the pressure.
You can wedge pillows to raise your back to one side and find the desired incline.
3. Raise your Legs
If you find it difficult to turn to any side due to discomfort, or because you are getting oxygen, then you can raise your legs instead. Prop up your legs slightly on a pillow, which will relieve the pressure on your chest.
You can also wedge a pillow between your legs while turning to a side for more comfort.
4. Prop Up your Chest
You can also raise your chest and head slightly with pillows. This helps drain the mucus from the throat and lungs and reduces the intensity of wheezing while sleeping.
Make an incline with the pillows as much as possible according to the patient’s comfort, and they should get a night of proper sleep. You can even warm the pillows for a snug and cozy feeling.
Other Things to Do to Be Comfortable During Pneumonia
Making the patient comfortable in some ways can help you combat pneumonia better. Here are some other things you may do to make yourself comfortable during pneumonia.
It is important to keep your lungs hydrated to be able to absorb oxygen. Dried lungs can cause severe discomfort and harbor germs. Drink water and fruit juices throughout the day to keep your lungs hydrated.
Use a Humidifier
You can use a humidifier to increase the moisture content of the indoor air. That makes it easier for you to breathe, and it makes it easier for your lungs to absorb oxygen.
Clean the Mattress
It is essential to clear the mattress when you have pneumonia. Ensure the patient’s mattress is vacuumed daily to keep away dust and microbes. It would be best if you also put it out in the sunlight to disinfect it naturally.
A dusty mattress can aggravate the symptoms severely, so you need to make sure that the mattress is clean.
It is essential to avoid alcohol and caffeine during pneumonia. Or else it can severely impact the healing process by slowing down the effectiveness of the medicines. Make sure you take all the antibacterial medications on time to improve the condition.
Do You Need a Special Mattress during Pneumonia?
Avoid sleeping on hard and uncomfortable mattresses when you have pneumonia. Your mattress should provide your comfort by making you feel warm and comfortable. The wrong mattress will only make the patient toss and turn, and they will be unable to find a good sleeping position.
Additionally, the right mattress will provide support to your spine and rib cage, and this will adequately support your lungs. It is crucial during pneumonia to allow your lungs to expand properly, and the right mattress can help with that. You can use a foam mattress that is known to provide adequate support.
Pneumonia can become very severe if you do not follow the correct treatment procedures. Here are some frequently asked questions on the topic.
Can pneumonia cause excessive sleeping?
Pneumonia will leave you drained. You may fall asleep during the day, disrupting your sleeping cycle. Hence, try to make the patient comfortable in every way so that they can fall asleep.
Should you sit up during pneumonia?
Propping yourself on pillows when you have pneumonia can help you with the throat congestion. You do not always have to sit up, but you can rest yourself better this way.
Can you work during pneumonia?
It is advisable to have adequate rest if you have pneumonia because it causes fatigue. You may also be overexposed to germs that you may breathe in, and that could aggravate the problem. Try not to overexpose yourself during this period and rest as much as possible.
Pneumonia only becomes a matter of concern in children or elderly people. A healthy person afflicted with pneumonia can recover well by following the doctor’s instructions and eating a healthy diet.
The discomfort from coughing and wheezing can be managed by finding a good sleeping position, and adequate rest will help with the healing process. By keeping your environment clean and sleeping well, you will be on the path to recovery in no time.