Are you feeling sick? Have a cough that won’t go away or trouble breathing? You might have pneumonia. People typically think of pneumonia as being only for the elderly, but it’s actually more common in people between the ages of 18 to 65, especially during the winter months. Pneumonia is not an infection you want to ignore. It can vary in severity from mild, which might only require some medicine for comfort and improvement of symptoms, all the way up through life-threatening cases where hospitalization may become necessary if untreated. Here are some common signs of pneumonia to watch for according to the American Lung Association.
The signs and symptoms of pneumonia may include:
- Cough, which may produce greenish, yellow or even bloody mucus
- Fever, sweating and shaking chills
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Sharp or stabbing chest pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or cough
- Loss of appetite, low energy, and fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting, especially in small children
- Confusion, especially in older people
Getting vaccinated for pneumonia can reduce, but not eliminate your risk. There are two types of vaccines: the pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13) and polysaccharide (PPSV23).
Prevention is key
- Get a flu shot every year to prevent seasonal influenza. The flu is a common cause of pneumonia, so preventing the flu is a good way to prevent pneumonia.
- Wash Your Hands
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after blowing your nose, going to the bathroom, diapering, and before eating or preparing foods.
- Don’t Smoke
- Tobacco damages your lung’s ability to fight off infection, and smokers have been found to be at higher risk of getting pneumonia. Smokers are considered one of the high-risk groups that are encouraged to get the pneumococcal vaccine.
- Be Aware of Your General Health
- Since pneumonia often follows respiratory infections, be aware of any symptoms that linger more than a few days.
- Good health habits—a healthy diet, rest, regular exercise, etc.—help you from getting sick from viruses and respiratory illnesses. They also help promote fast recovery when you do get a cold, the flu or other respiratory illness.
- If you have children, talk to their doctor about:
- Hib vaccine, which prevents pneumonia in children from Haemophilus influenza type b
- A drug called Synagis (palivizumab), which is given to some children younger than 24 months to prevent pneumonia caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
- If you have cancer or HIV, talk to your doctor about additional ways to prevent pneumonia and other infections.
The physicians and staff at Bay Area Family Physicians appreciate the opportunity to provide your medical services. We want to strengthen communication between our office and you, our patients. As specialists in Family Medicine, we focus on primary care needs for patients of all ages – from newborns to the elderly. We diagnose and treat almost all medical conditions. Ideally, your entire family will see the same doctor, allowing both you and your doctor to establish a close, trusting relationship. Contact us today for more information!