7 things you didn’t know about pneumonia
(BPT) – Many people believe pneumonia only affects vulnerable elderly people and occurs in colder climates – but the truth is pneumonia is a serious lung infection that can hit anyone, at any time or any place. However, the risk of pneumonia is increased in those 50 years and older, and the incidence generally increases during flu season. As flu season is now underway and adults are thinking about prevention, it is important to also consider the steps that can be taken to help prevent pneumococcal pneumonia, a common kind of pneumonia. If you are age 50 or older or have a chronic health condition, you may be at increased risk. To learn more, visit www.KnowPneumonia.com.
1. Pneumonia is a leading cause of death in the United States
Combined, influenza and pneumonia, including pneumococcal pneumonia, are among the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
2. Your risk for pneumonia may be heightened during flu season
During the winter months, the incidence of flu and complications due to respiratory infections, including pneumonia, increases. People with the flu may be more susceptible to pneumococcal pneumonia.
3. Even healthy adults can get pneumococcal pneumonia
As people get older, they become more susceptible to infectious diseases like pneumococcal pneumonia, mainly due to the age-related decline of the immune system. People age 50 and older may be at increased risk.
4. If you have a chronic condition, you may be at increased risk
Adults over 50 considered at increased risk for pneumonia include those with certain underlying health problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, asthma, congestive heart failure and sickle cell anemia. Individuals with diseases that impair the immune system, such as AIDS, or those undergoing cancer chemotherapy or organ transplantation also are particularly vulnerable.
5. Some of the common symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia may be different from the flu
Common symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, aches and fatigue. Some people may develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu. Common pneumococcal pneumonia symptoms include difficulty breathing, cough, fever, chills and chest pain.
6. Nearly half of adults who get pneumococcal pneumonia end up in the hospital
About 900,000 Americans get pneumococcal pneumonia each year, nearly half of whom end up in the hospital. Between 5 and 7 percent of people affected with pneumococcal pneumonia die each year in the U.S.
7. Pneumococcal pneumonia may be prevented
Coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your sleeve will help to avoid passing germs to others. Maintaining your health, particularly by managing chronic conditions like diabetes or COPD is also important. For people ages 50 years and older, vaccination is an important step to help protect against pneumococcal pneumonia. Talk to your doctor to learn more about getting up to date with all appropriate vaccinations.