Tips for Preventing Pneumonia This Winter
Pneumonia is a dangerous affliction that results in the deaths of about 4 million people every year around the world. It is one of the top 10 most common causes of death in the United States. Especially this year, with the COVID-19 pandemic still on everyone’s mind, it’s understandable for people to be worried about pneumonia too, especially older individuals. At Solterra Senior Living, the health of our residents is of top priority. In this blog, we’ll look at the steps you can take to prevent pneumonia.
What Is Pneumonia?
Despite what many people may believe, pneumonia is not a singular disease. Instead, pneumonia is a condition characterized by inflammation of the lungs and can have different causes. Typically, pneumonia is caused by viruses or bacteria. However, it can also be caused by inhaling (also called aspirating) foreign objects, certain fungi, or even parasites.
Pneumonia can result in chest pain, coughing, and difficulty breathing, and in severe cases, can lead to hospitalization and death. In the United States, pneumonia typically kills around 50,000 people a year.
By far the most common cause of pneumonia is the bacteria Streptococcus pneuomoniae, which is responsible for about 50 percent of cases. The seasonal flu can also cause pneumonia, and it’s a side effect of more serious cases of COVID-19.
How Can You Prevent Pneumonia?
Given that pneumonia can be caused by different things, there’s no singular way to prevent pneumonia. However, there are several ways you can minimize the risk, if not eliminate it entirely.
The single most effective way to prevent pneumonia is through vaccines. There are two primary types of pneumonia vaccines: PCV13 and PPSV23, which defend against 13 and 23 types of pneumonia-causing bacteria, respectively. PCV13 is typically given to children in early childhood and is available as a one-time vaccine for adults above 65 with a revaccination period of 5 to 10 years. PPSV23 is a supplementary vaccine, typically one year after you have received the PCV13 vaccine.
Where possible, you should also get the yearly flu vaccine, as influenza is another common cause of pneumonia. When a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, getting that will be wise too.
Avoid Ill People
If we’ve learned anything after nearly a year of COVID-19, it’s the importance of social distancing. Avoid being in close contact with ill people if possible, especially indoors. Fortunately, in Arizona, the winter months are mild and pleasant to spend outside—so, particularly during this time of year, outdoor socialization is the way to go.
Take Care of Your Health
This might sound like an obvious tip, and a little redundant in an article about how to prevent pneumonia—but it’s still very true. Since pneumonia isn’t a disease in itself but is rather a condition, keeping your body in tip-top shape will increase your body’s ability to fight off any infection that might otherwise cause pneumonia.
This means avoiding alcoholic drinks (which can inhibit your body’s immune system), eating healthily, getting lots of rest and regular exercise, staying hydrated, and so on. If you’re a smoker, it’s very important that you quit smoking as soon as possible—smoking will weaken your lungs, making them all the more susceptible to pneumonia.
By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to increase your odds of preventing pneumonia.