Legionnaires disease can be a devastating illness. It is a severe form of pneumonia that, left untreated, can be fatal. The bacteria Legionella causes both Legionnaires and Pontiac fever, though it’s not a strong affinity for a defunct car company, it’s a less severe disease similar to the flu. Legionnaires can be treated with antibiotics, but if symptoms are severe, it may require hospitalization. It’s called Legionnaires disease because it was first discovered after an outbreak of the disease in Philadelphia at an American Legion conference. Although it was first found in an outbreak, the disease usually affects individuals individually rather than in a group. The following symptoms will usually show up two to ten days after contact with Legionella bacteria.
A Dry Or Productive Cough
If you have either a dry or productive cough, it can be a sign of Legionnaires disease. Though they are different types of coughs, they are both symptoms of different points of the disease progression. A dry cough, though strong and persistent, doesn’t bring anything up out of the lungs or throat. It is a cough without any phlegm or mucus. The only thing that comes out of your mouth during a dry cough is a harsh, barking sound. A productive cough is just the opposite. You absolutely need to cover your mouth during a productive cough, because you never know how much phlegm you’ll bring up or at what velocity. The cough itself sounds wet. If you have a dry or productive cough, it may be a symptom of Legionnaires disease.
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Fever And Chills
Along with a cough, those suffering from Legionnaires disease will also have a fever and chills as well. The fever from Legionnaires disease can climb upwards of 104 degrees Fahrenheit, making you feel like any room is too cold for your warm body. The body’s natural reaction to feeling so cold is to shiver or give you chills. Your body thinks you need to produce even more heat, so it makes your muscles go through minor contractions to produce some heat. Because of the severity of the fever, your body turns to last resorts, but it’s shorting out. At this point, a trip to the hospital is in order, if you haven’t gone in already. Fever and chills can become serious quickly.
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Loss Of Appetite
You’d think your body would want to take in more energy to fight off a bacterial infection, but one of its coping mechanisms is a loss of appetite. Even though eating is one way you bring energy into your body, the process of digestion itself consumes energy even as it releases energy from your food. Because your body goes into survival mode, all extra expenditures of energy are suspended, even if they would result in a net gain of energy. Even if you don’t feel hungry while you’re sick, it’s important to still drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and to eat what you can.
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While your body is fighting off diseases, it releases a concoction of natural chemicals, hormones, and proteins to help the immune system fight off the invading bacteria. While these chemicals help the immune system, they don’t come without side effects. One side effect is you’re likely to feel muscle aches as your body fights off the legionella bacteria. Take your time and make sure you don't push yourself too hard during this time. Listen to your body and take things slow so you have the best chance of making a full recovery. Muscle aches are the body’s way of telling you to slow down.
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While you are sick, you’re likely to experience lethargy that may continue as you heal. As we mentioned before, your body needs all the energy it can get for the fight against Legionnaires disease. It also needs energy to repair any damage done by the disease or by the symptoms themselves. It will reroute energy from what are considered non-essential functions into your basic bodily functions and the immune response and clean up efforts. Until the body feels those functions are acceptable, it will continue funneling energy away from your other body processes, and the lethargy will persist. You won’t entirely lose the ability to keep your eyes open, but you will find you have much less energy for other things.