#WorldPneumoniaDay: Here’s how to protect yourself from this condition

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs with a range of possible causes. It can be a serious and life-threatening disease

Here’s how to protect yourself from pneumonia this winter
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Pneumonia can range in seriousness from mild to life-threatening. It is most serious for infants and young children, people older than age 65, and people with health problems or weakened immune systems.

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection caused in one or both lungs, occurring due to an infection which causes inflammation in the air sacs of the lungs, filled with fluid or pus. Bacteria, Fungi or other viruses cause these, making it difficult to breathe as it interrupts the Oxygen supply to the bloodstream.

 

Symptoms of pneumonia

  • Chest pain
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • High fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough with prevalence of phlegm
  • Sweating and shivering

Care and prevention

Ensuring special care during and after the flu season, it will help resist bacterial infection and prevent CAP. Following these few tips will help you avoid pneumonia this winter season.

Practising good hygiene habits

Washing your hands often, especially before food consumption is a must. Bacteria and viruses that cause pneumonia are often spread through contact; if you are in close contact with an infected person, ensure the necessary precautions are taken. Wash and rinse your hands thoroughly with an antibacterial soap. Keep a napkin available; make sure to sneeze into it.

Building a strong immune system

  • Make sure to eat a nutritious diet in order to build your immunity, which will help you resist infections.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day; fresh fruit juices will also suffice.
  • Keep away from alcohol if in contact with the virus; smoking is a complete no-no as it compromises the ability of the Lungs to combat infection.
  • Avoid consumption of processed foods; eat home cooked and maintain a well-balanced diet. Make sure to exercise as it is critical in ensuring a fitter body.

Do not hesitate, get treated

If any of the above symptoms persist, visit your doctor at the earliest. Avoid self-medication as this can interfere in effective treatment or worsen the situation. Antipyretics like paracetamol can be taken.

However, any symptom worsening or lasting for more than 3 days should be addressed medically. If you are suffering from chronic illnesses like Diabetes, Blood Pressure, etc. you are more susceptible to infection as the immunity drops; follow the guidelines provided by your doctor.

Get a flu vaccine which is a yearly one; certain age groups can get a pneumonia vaccine, ask your medical expert. Also, for the prevention of pneumonia, certain vaccines are available. One should ask if they qualify for them and should be updated with the same.

Dr Preyas Vaidya is a Consultant Pulmonologist at Fortis Hospital, Mulund. He is the author of this article.