Today is World Pneumonia Day, one of the most common yet life-threatening infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites in the lungs. Pneumonia causes millions of deaths worldwide across various age groups.
Pneumonia is an inflammation in the alveoli of the lungs that is filled with fluid or phlegm making it difficult to breathe and it can affect individuals at any age.
The most vulnerable groups are children under 2 years and older adults over 65 years. Some of the common symptoms of pneumonia are coughing with phlegm, fever with chills, breathing difficulty, and chest pain.
What Causes Pneumonia?
A severe upper respiratory infection, even a cold, flu can progress into pneumonia. Germs enter the body and invade lungs through various ways.
Physical Contact -through shaking hands or kissing.
Sneezing or Coughing – spread droplets through the air.
Touching the soiled surface or things.
Contact with health care provider.
How To Prevent Pneumonia?
Getting vaccinated reduces the risk of infections but does not completely eradicate the disease. Doctors strongly recommend two types of vaccines to prevent pneumonia.
1.The Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (Prevnar 13)
Prevnar 13 vaccine prevents against almost 13 types of bacteria that cause infections in children and adults. It is generally the standard vaccine for babies administered as 3-4 dose from the beginning of 2 months and the final dose is given by 15 months.
In adults over 65 years, Prevnar 13 is given as a onetime vaccine or revaccinated in intervals of 5 and 10 years for the high-risk group.
2. Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine (PPSV23 or Pneumovax23)
Pneumovax 23 is a onetime adult vaccine that prevents against 23 types of bacteria recommended for adults over 65 years who had already taken a dose of Prevnar 13.
It is generally given to the adults between 19-64 years who smoke and are at the risk of getting pneumonia.
A healthy lifestyle is key in boosting the immune system and lowering the risk of getting pneumonia. Good hygiene keeps you free from disease.
Quit smoking, as tobacco damages your lungs potential to combat infections, smokers are at the high risk of contracting pneumonia.
Practice proper handwashing methods.
Stay away from patients fighting bacterial infections.
Get enough rest if you are suffering from cold or flu and get adequate sleep.
Proper hydration is important to get rid of congestion.
Go for a humidifier in case of severe congestion.
Eat a balanced diet that provides you with a good amount of proteins, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants including fresh fruits, vegetables, and a good source of lean proteins, which can boost your immune system and combat infections.
Especially keep babies and children away from people who have cold or flu to lower their risk. Always keep the children’s nose -clean and dry and ensure that they sneeze or a cough with their mouth covered that can prevent the spread of germs.