November 12th is observed as the World Pneumonia Day. Pneumonia is a dangerous disease that causes heavy child mortality all over the world. This disease can be prevented if people follow certain precautionary measures.
Pneumonia is an infection leading to the inflammation of the lungs. Since the lung is a vital organ that supports ventilation, any infection that compromises its function can be fatal. Further, infection of the lungs can spread beyond the local tissue into the bloodstream making one profoundly ill.
About a third of pneumonia cases are due to respiratory viruses, most commonly influenza and other causes include bacteria and fungi. Once these harmful organisms invade the lung tissue, they fill up the air sacs in the lungs called alveoli with fluid and pus making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms of pneumonia include cough, fever, fatigue and nausea.
The medication prescribed to treat it depends on the cause of the infection. Antibiotics are prescribed for bacterial pneumonia, antiviral medications for viral pneumonia and antifungal drugs to treat pneumonia caused by fungi. The course of the treatment will vary based on symptoms, severity and any other underlying health issues.
Some effective ways to prevent pneumonia are:
Breastfeeding is a great immunity booster for infants. It has been found that children who were breastfed for the first 12 months of their life have reduced risk of getting hospitalized in cases of pneumonia. Moreover, the chances of getting pneumonia reduce considerably with breastfeeding.
Practice Good Hygiene
Wash hands frequently with alcohol based sanitizer every time you blow your nose, use bathroom and before eating and preparation of food. Use lukewarm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Using an alcohol based sanitizer is the next best option. This helps prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria that cause pneumonia.
Smokers are at a greater risk of developing pneumonia because the nicotine from the tobacco paralyzes the lung’s capacity to eject debris out of it. Smoking also impairs the lung’s ability to fight infection.
Get a flu shot without fail every year to prevent seasonal influenza. People often develop bacterial pneumonia after a bout of flu and preventing it is an effective way to prevent pneumonia. Children younger than 5 and adults who are 65 or above should be vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia a common form of bacterial pneumonia. This vaccine is also recommended to those who have risk factors for pneumonia.
Practice Healthy Lifestyle
Eating a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly and taking adequate rest will keep your immune system strong. A strong immune system aids in a speedy recovery when you get cold, cough or other respiratory illnesses.
Avoid Sick People
Stay away from people suffering from colds, flu or other respiratory infections. This greatly increases your risk of catching their sickness.
Drink plenty of water
Drink plenty of fluids especially water to loosen mucus in your lungs.
True to the aphorism “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure,” the above measures can reduce your risk of developing pneumonia.