World Pneumonia Day: Promoting Awareness & Lung Health

On November 12, people all over the globe will be celebrating World Pneumonia Day is to raise awareness about the severity of pneumonia, educate the world on how they can protect themselves, and encourage everyone to take action.

Learn more about the importance of pneumonia awareness and how you can protect yourself from the dangerous infections that can cause it.

Pneumonia Can Kill

adults die from pneumonia each year Pneumonia is a leading cause of death for children under 5 years old.CDC

Pneumonia is one of the leading deaths for children under the age of five years. More than 50,000 adults die from pneumonia each year. Yet, pneumonia is preventable. That’s why World Pneumonia Day was created in 2009 – to bring awareness to the seriousness of pneumonia and to promote preventative measures.

Pneumonia can be bacterial or viral in nature, and the germs that cause it can be passed in a variety of ways. Most often it is passed through direct contact with bodily fluids, such as kissing or sharing someone’s food or drink. They can also be spread through the air by sneezing or coughing, or through indirect contact on things like door handles, handrails, towels, utensil, etc.

Preventing pneumonia is something that anyone can learn to do at any age. While adults may have more control over their environments than children, it is important to teach children good habits to help them stay healthy throughout the rest of their lives.

Vaccinations Can Prevent Pneumonia

Children should receive the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Additionally, children face a bigger risk of developing pneumonia if they’re exposed to the following:

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Asthma
  • Flu (influenza)
  • Inadequate housing
  • Long-term health issues such as diabetes

For adults, the best way to prevent pneumonia is to get both your flu shot and the pneumonia vaccine, particularly if you’re 65 years of age or older. Adults who have chronic illnesses such as sickle cell anemia, cancer, asthma, or who have weak immune systems should also get both shots. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, adults over the age of 65 should get two pneumococcal vaccinations.

  • Adults can help prevent pneumonia if they:
  • Stop smoking. Smoking increases the risk of getting pneumonia, even if you’re generally healthy.
  • Stay away from people who are sick. This includes people with pneumonia, the flu, or a cold. Those three illnesses can make you more likely to get pneumonia.
  • Wash your hands often to prevent viruses and bacteria that cause pneumonia from spreading.
  • Make healthy food choices and get plenty of exercise to maintain a healthy constitution.

What Are the Signs of Pneumonia?

The symptoms of pneumonia can be as  subtle as a light but persistent cough, or as severe as serious breathing problems like wheezing. It is often accompanied by a feeling of tiredness or fatigue, a lessened appetite, or even mood alterations such as irritability.

“Walking pneumonia” is a relatively mild form of the condition that may be confused for something else, such as the flu or the common cold. While other symptoms may be present, they are often not severe enough to cause major concerns – which means people may be less likely to go to the doctor, giving a chance for the virus or bacteria to spread.

Full-fledged pneumonia often comes with more severe symptoms, including (but not limited to):

  • Coughing up mucus
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Chest pain that feels worse when you cough or breathe in
  • Increased heart rate

It is extremely important to take a child who may be exhibiting signs of pneumonia to a doctor right away.

It is extremely important to take a child who may be exhibiting signs of pneumonia to a doctor right away, even if the symptoms seem rather mild. Because pneumonia is essentially an infection of the lungs, things could quickly become much worse, leading potentially to lifelong breathing problems or even death.

Pneumonia can also be serious in adults, especially if it is left untreated, is bacterial, or you have a chronic illness. If you think that you have pneumonia or walking pneumonia, make sure that you get to a doctor as soon as possible.

Treating Pneumonia

Pneumonia treatment depends on whether the underlying cause is viral or bacterial. Bacterial pneumonia is often treated with a course of antibiotics that must be taken daily over a period of time. However, viral pneumonia does not respond to antibiotics, and in many cases it may just take lots of rest at home or in a hospital to be overcome.

For mild cases of pneumonia, patients are generally sent home to recover. Their treatment plan generally consists of getting lots of rest, staying hydrated, and keeping an eye on fever. Talk to your doctor before taking cold or flu medications to treat your symptoms, since coughing is important to clear out the lungs of mucus. Also, if you’re taking a prescription to treat your pneumonia, cold and cough medicines may interfere with their effectiveness.

Patients with pneumonia also may be given an inhaler or nebulizer to help with shortness of breath. Using a humidifier could also be helpful, or even using steam from a hot shower. However, if your child has pneumonia, do not leave them in the bathroom alone: When the steam is too hot, it can make breathing problems worse instead of better.

In severe cases, hospitalization may be required. In the hospital, the patient may be given an IV to keep them hydrated, oxygen to enhance their breathing, and other treatments to help them overcome the infection causing their pneumonia.

Spread the Message of World Pneumonia Day

Pneumonia is a preventable disease that kills children and adults each year. You can help protect the lives of others by helping to spread the message of World Pneumonia Day. Share, like, and tweet this article to the people you love, so that they know about the dangers of pneumonia!