Reducing Your Risk of Pneumonia This Winter

 

UNDATED (NewsDakota.com) – Pneumonia can take months to heal, but for a very young person, an elderly person, or a person with a compromised immune system, it can be deadly.

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Deaths from pneumonia peak during the winter
thanks in part to flu season, which runs November to March. This means everyone needs to be on guard to prevent and treat the disease quickly.

Dangers of Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a lung infection that occurs as a result of a bacterial or viral infection or some kind of inflammation of the lungs. The subsequent decreased circulation to the lungs leads to less oxygen in the blood. Normally pneumonia clears up in two to three weeks, but it can sometimes require hospitalization. It can also increase the risk of stroke in some patients for up to ten years.

Certain types of pneumonia increase during the winter, including community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). CAP is usually seen in people who are not hospitalized and is suspected of being more common during cold and flu season because a cold or flu weakens the immune system and might even cause damage to your airways, creating an opportunity for infection.

Preventing Pneumonia

The two most important and effective ways to decrease your risk of pneumonia this winter is to wash your hands frequently and get vaccinated. Washing your hands frequently, especially during the winter, is vital in the prevention of airborne bacteria and viruses that can jumpstart pneumonia. Especially if you work in a large office or spend a great deal of time in large groups of people, washing your hands is essential.

Experts also recommend getting vaccinated against bacterial pneumococcal pneumonia with a one-time vaccine. Getting a flu shot at the start of each flu season is also recommended. Many health care plans provide this service for free, and there are many low-cost clinics that provide them at reduced rates, as well.

Smoking also significantly increases your risk of pneumonia. It’s worth making an effort to quit to protect your health this winter!

Recognize Pneumonia Quickly

It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of pneumonia, especially if you’re a caretaker for somebody very young or very old. Symptoms include:

? Coughing
? Chest pain
? Chills
? Fever
? Fatigue
? Shortness of breath
? Delirium or confusion

You should contact your doctor immediately when these symptoms present.

Pneumonia is not something to make light of. It causes many deaths each year, and winter only exacerbates its potential harm. Understanding the disease and taking steps to prevent it is a vital part of staying healthy and well this winter.


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