Pneumonia: Prevention & Care

 By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi

This is the inflammation of airspaces in one or both lungs which is commonly caused by an infection either by bacteria, viruses or fungi (let’s not bore you with some of their names). Pneumonia is not restricted to a set of people but is more life-threatening for infants, children and those older than 65 years.
Risk factors for pneumonia include weak immune system, smoke, being less than 2 years or above 65 years, chronic diseases or being hospitalized (especially if the patient is on a ventilator). The symptoms of pneumonia may develop suddenly or over a period of time. It includes fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain and vomiting or diarrhoea.
Usually the immune system protects the body by preventing germs from infecting the lungs. Sometimes, these germs overpower the immune system to get the lungs infected and inflamed. Depending on where the pneumonia was acquired, pneumonia can be classified into community-acquired pneumonia and hospital acquired pneumonia. Other classifications such as bronchopneumonia, lobar pneumonia and lipoid pneumonia describe the appearance of the inflammatory cells on the affected tissue.
The treatment of pneumonia aims at curing the infection as well as preventing complications. This is dependent on the cause of the pneumonia and the patient’s underlying health condition but fever reducers will be used to keep temperature normal. A recuperating patient requires lots of rest and fluids (especially water) to prevent dehydration. Medication should be completed in spite of relief.
Prevention of pneumonia is possible. It starts from vaccination. Vaccines may not always stop pneumonia infection but it prevents serious complications. The practice of good hygiene such as regular hand washing, cleaning frequently touched surfaces, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue or into your elbow or sleeve can limit spread of the infection. Also, reducing exposure to cigarette smoke, treating and preventing conditions like diabetes are preventive measures. Exclusively breastfed babies have their immunity boosted, this helps them overcome pneumonia.

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