Pneumonia is inflammation of the tissue in one or both lungs, and, like Influenza, is a major cause of death for older people.
It’s usually caused by a bacterial infection, and with older people it’s particularly serious, with every likelihood of needing hospital treatment.
It can be caused by a number of factors, including having influenza, or a weakened immune system, and, like flu, it can be caught from other people.
There’s a vaccination recommended, if you’re over 65, called pneumococcal vaccine. This isn’t annual like the flu jab, but a one-off injection that lasts for life. It’s reckoned to halve your chance of getting pneumonia, so is definitely worth having.
So, how best can we avoid Pneumonia?
The National Health Service says: Although most cases of pneumonia are bacterial and are not passed on from one person to another, ensuring good standards of hygiene will help prevent germs spreading.
A healthy lifestyle can also help prevent pneumonia. For example, you should avoid smoking as it damages your lungs and increases the chance of infection.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that you are more likely to get pneumonia if you smoke or have underlying medical conditions, like diabetes or heart disease. However, you can lower your chances by taking good care of your medical problems, and quitting smoking.
The Mayo Clinic advises that to reduce your risk of getting pneumonia:
• Get vaccinated. The vaccination guidelines have changed over time so make sure to review your vaccination status with your doctor even if you recall previously receiving a pneumonia vaccine.
• Practice good hygiene. To protect yourself against respiratory infections that sometimes lead to pneumonia, wash your hands regularly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
• Don’t smoke. Smoking damages your lungs’ natural defences against respiratory infections.
• Keep your immune system strong. Get enough sleep, exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet.
All the evidence so far in 2020 about the spread of coronavirus (“Covid-19”) is that older people with existing medical conditions are the most vulnerable to dying from this virus. That makes it all the more important to take what steps you can to avoid influenza and pneumonia.
NHS on pneumonia: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pneumonia/
CDC on pneumonia: https://www.cdc.gov/pneumonia/
Link to my post on “Influenza”