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Did you know that pneumonia kills more people than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined? Did you know that breastfeeding a child during their the six months can help prevent pneumonia?

So, what exactly is pneumonia? It’s an infection that causes inflammation of the air sacs in one or both of the lungs. The air sacs may then fill up with fluid or pus and cause you to cough up phlegm, which is the thick yellow substance you cough up when you have a cold. Other symptoms of pneumonia include fever, chills, nausea, or chest pain. The two age groups most affected by pneumonia are children under two years old and adults over 65.

The most common causes of pneumonia are breathing in the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae and influenza virus. There are four different types of pneumonia depending on the pathogen and location of infection. The first and most common type is the community-acquired pneumonia, which occurs in public areas outside of a hospital. The second and more serious type is hospital-acquired, and it’s caused by hospital bacteria that are more resistant to antibiotics. The third type, health care-acquired, occurs in long-term care facilities and usually affect the elderly. The final type is aspiration pneumonia, which occurs when you inhale food, liquid, or vomit into your lungs.

 The two types of vaccines for pneumonia are the pneumococcal polysaccharide and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines. Both are recommended for adults over 65 and the latter is recommended for young children.

Image Source: Jeffrey Hamilton​​​​​​​​

How do I treat pneumonia? It can usually be treated with antibiotics, fever-reducing drugs, or cough medicine. Getting plenty of sleep and staying hydrated is also important. However, in more severe cases with older adults and young children, hospitalization may be required.

How do I prevent pneumonia? One way is to get vaccinated, which is common for children. Getting the vaccine may not always prevent pneumonia because there many different types of pneumonia, but it can prevent serious complications if you do contract the disease. In addition, washing your hands regularly, quitting smoking, sleeping well, and exercising often can help prevent pneumonia. It’s also important to avoid contact with infectious people because common diseases, such as the flu or the cold, can sometimes cause pneumonia.

Ultimately, getting vaccinated and keeping your immune system strong are good ways to protect against pneumonia. In most cases, if you do contract pneumonia, getting rest and taking medication should do the trick.

Feature Image Source: Pneumonia by scott feldstein

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