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Pneumonia
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Pneumonia

Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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ASTHMA & RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
Respiratory System

INFECTIOUS DISEASE

Viral Illnesses

INFECTIOUS DISEASE

Bacterial

Although pneumonia is a special concern for older adults and those with chronic illnesses, it can also strike young, healthy people as well.

There are more than 50 kinds of pneumonia that range in seriousness from mild to life-threatening. In infectious pneumonia, bacteria, viruses, fungi or other organisms attack your lungs, leading to inflammation that makes it hard to breathe. Pneumonia can affect one or both lungs. Infection of both lungs is sometimes popularly referred to as double pneumonia.

Prevention

You usually don't "catch" pneumonia from someone else. Instead, you develop the disease because your own immunity is temporarily weakened, often for no known reason. The following suggestions can help keep you healthy:

  • Get vaccinated. Because pneumonia can be a complication of the flu, getting a yearly flu shot is a good way to prevent pneumonia. In addition, get a vaccination against pneumococcal pneumonia at least once after age 65. Talk to your doctor about the pneumonia vaccine if you have a chronic illness such as lung or cardiovascular disease, diabetes or sickle cell anemia, if your immune system is compromised or you've had your spleen removed for any reason. A vaccine known as Prevnar can also help protect young children against pneumonia. It's recommended for all children under age 2 and for children 2 years and older who are at particular risk of pneumococcal disease, such as those with an immune system deficiency, cancer, cardiovascular disease or sickle cell anemia. Side effects of the pneumococcal vaccine are generally minor and include mild soreness or swelling at the injection site.

  • Wash your hands. Your hands come in daily contact with germs that can cause pneumonia. These germs enter your body when you touch your eyes or rub your nose. Washing your hands thoroughly and often can help reduce your risk.

  • Don't smoke. Smoking damages your lungs' natural defenses against respiratory infections.

  • Take care of yourself. Proper rest and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains along with moderate exercise all help keep your immune system strong.

  • Protect others from infection. If you have pneumonia, try to stay away from anyone with a compromised immune system. When that isn't possible, you can help protect others by wearing a face mask and always coughing into a tissue.

Pneumonia > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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Last Modified : 03/15/08 01:52 AM