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Pneumonia Diet Chart: What To Eat, What Not To Eat

  • Dr.Sreelekha Daruvuri Dr. Sreelekha Daruvuri
  • 5 Min Read
  • Fact Checked

Pneumonia is an infection that affects the lungs where excess secretions block tubes and fill air sacs, where gas exchange happens. This, therefore, leads to compromised lung function which presents itself as a symptom of Pneumonia. The infection can affect one or both lungs and can be caused by either bacteria, viruses, and/or fungi. While there are treatments for Pneumonia, the condition can become life-threatening – therefore, treatment should be started in the early stages. During the recovery period, medications and treatment protocol given by a physician is imperative, however, a Pneumonia diet should be followed.

Pneumonia symptoms

The most common symptoms of pneumonia include:
– Fever
– Chills
– Breathlessness
– Chest pain
– Cough with sputum
– Weakness

Pneumonia risk factors

Pneumonia can affect any individual at any age, however, the common at-risk age groups are children less than 5 years of age and elderly above 65 years. People who smoke or drink too much alcohol are also at risk of developing Pneumonia due to altered lung defenses and the weakening of the immune system. Those diagnosed with lung disorders such as COPD are also at risk as the lung function of clearing the mucus and aeration is compromised.

How is pneumonia diagnosed?

A pneumonia diagnosis is made based on the symptoms, clinical examination, and lab investigations. On examination, patients can have increased respiratory rate with sounds audible through a stethoscope. Blood tests and chest radiographs are also done and in a few cases, CT scans are advised.  In very rare cases, a Bronchoscopy is recommended.

Pneumonia Treatment 

– For mild symptoms: treatment is given in the form of oral antibiotics along with symptomatic management.
– In severe disease: the patient is admitted to hospital and given IV antibiotics with or without Oxygen support (depends on the case and severity of the condition and symptoms)

Diet for Pneumonia patients

Diet for Pneumonia in children
Pneumonia Diet

Children are more active when compared to adults so their body’s energy requirements are higher. Since their bodies are growing, their protein requirement is higher as well. A diet plan for children diagnosed with Pneumonia should include the following:

Carbs, proteins, and good fats will help in a speedy recovery.
– Mid-day snacks are to be included in the form of nuts and seeds or roasted chana and roasted carrots along with warm milk.
– For a child that is non-vegetarian, eggs or grilled meat low on spices can be included.
Vegetarians options are limited but foods like paneer, pulses, legumes can be included.
Fluids in the form of water, coconut water, fresh juices, buttermilk should be included.

Diet for Pneumonia in adults

Pneumonia Diet

Hydration: 3-4 liters of water per day is crucial
Whole grains: a Pneumococcal infection leads to fatigue and the body’s requirement for energy increases to fight off the infection. This is because the body is using up energy to fight the organisms so the inclusion of a good amount of carbohydrates is important.
Protein intake: a diet plan for Pneumonia patients should include proteins in every meal. Proteins form the basis for cell structure, chemical substances that kill microbes and antibodies. 40-50 gms of protein is to be consumed per day. Examples: Pulses, legumes, chicken, fish, prawns can be consumed which help in repairing the tissues.
Green leafy vegetables: These contain a good amount of vitamins and minerals which function as powerful antioxidants and help in preventing damage to the body.
Fruits: a limited quantity of fruits is recommended and fruits with more fiber like apples should be consumed.
Probiotics: this helps in maintaining gut health which helps in optimum functioning of the immune system.
Warm soups: warmth helps in relieving the upper respiratory tract congestion and at the same time provides essential nutrients to the body.

For someone who is affected by COVID-19 Pneumonia as well, a healthy balanced diet like above has to be followed.

Foods to avoid when diagnosed with Pneumonia

It is imperative to also understand what not to include in a diet for pneumonia patients.
Cold drinks and foods are to be avoided since they might lead to increased production of mucus and bronchoconstriction
Salt intake has to be limited.
Saturated fats and trans fats are to be avoided as they will alter the immunity levels

How is pneumonia treated?

Treatment is t based on the severity of the infection. Lab tests like blood culture, blood counts, chest Xray, chest scans, and sputum cultures help diagnose the infection. A course of antibiotics, medication to reduce inflammation or mucus production, and cough are also part of the treatment plan. If a patient has severe disease, oxygen support and at times mechanical ventilator is used to sustain the patient in cases of lung failure.

What vaccines are available for pneumonia?

Pneumococcal vaccines are available for infants from 6 months to 65-year-old individuals. Another vaccine, the HiB vaccine, should also be taken which prevents Pneumonia. Apart from these regular Vaccines, the Flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine are also to be taken because they can cause pneumonia in individuals less than 5 years and more than 65 years old and COVID can cause Pneumonia in elderly age groups and individuals with chronic diseases.

Tips for preventing pneumonia

Vaccination is important: Children below 5 years and adults above 65 should get vaccinated.
Wash your hands frequently especially after you blow your nose/cough/sneeze or before/after preparing foods.
Do not smoke: whether it is first-hand smoking or second-hand as smoking is considered as one of the important risk factors for Pneumococcal infections.
– Be cautious and get treated for the common cold or upper respiratory infections symptoms which may linger for more than a few days as pneumonia can be caused by these infections.
– Follow good healthy habits:  Regular exercise and a healthy diet will prevent any viral illnesses and respiratory infections.
– When you are being treated at home, for mild Pneumonia with oral antibiotics, you have to be in touch with a doctor and update the progress.
Breathing exercises can be done to help with recovery
Limit the number of contacts to prevent the spread
Self-medication should be avoided. If there are any red flag signs, you should contact the doctor immediately to avoid complications.

Pneumonia is not uncommon and can be prevented by following simple tips like hand hygiene. If there is suspicion of Pneumonia, contact with an infected individual, or if you are experiencing respiratory conditions such as chest pain, severe mucus-filled fought, fever, and difficulty breathing, consult with a general physician or a pulmonologist to prevent complications and start an appropriate customized treatment plan.

  • Dr.Sreelekha Daruvuri
  • Written by

    Dr. Sreelekha Daruvuri

Dr. Sreelekha Daruvuri, MBBS with 5+ yrs of experience working as a Primary care Physician on MFine. She initially worked with corporate hospitals and then as a resident in JIPMER for 2 years. She believes in a holistic approach to health care. She is also a public speaker, a blog writer and holds an interest in spreading awareness on health through digital media.

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