What you need to know about pneumonia
Tuesday, January 9, 2024
Pneumonia has been in the news recently. If you have been reading about it and are concerned, you’re not alone. Pneumonia can sound troubling, but it is both preventable and treatable.
Here are some common questions people have about pneumonia:
What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection that affects the lungs and causes them to fill with fluid or pus. Symptoms vary between people, and they can be mild or serious.
Who is at risk of pneumonia?
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, children age two or younger are at higher risk because their immune systems are still developing. Older adults can also be at risk because of weakened immune systems due to age and chronic conditions.
What are the symptoms of pneumonia?
According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of pneumonia may include:
Chest pain when you breathe or cough
Confusion or changes in mental awareness (in adults age 65 and older)
Cough, which may produce phlegm
Fever, sweating and shaking chills
Lower than normal body temperature (in adults older than age 65 and people with weak immune systems)
Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
Shortness of breath
How can I prevent pneumonia?
Here are a few ways to prevent pneumonia, according to the American Lung Association:
Get vaccinated: Staying up-to-date on your annual shots is important for preventing pneumonia. If you’re at risk for pneumococcal pneumonia, make sure you’ve been vaccinated for that as well.
Wash your hands: Always a good rule to follow, but especially after coughing or blowing your nose.
Don’t smoke: Tobacco can hurt your lungs’ ability to fight infections, and smokers are at a higher risk of getting pneumonia.
Be aware of your general health: Take care of any chronic conditions you have, keep a healthy diet, and if you develop a respiratory infection, keep an eye out for any lingering symptoms.
Questions or concerns about pneumonia? Talk to your primary care provider.
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Genesis HealthCare System’s Health and Wellness content conveniently provides accurate and helpful information. Your health history and current health may impact suggestions provided through our Health and Wellness content. Although we hope this information is helpful, it is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice. Before making any significant changes, please consult your doctor.