Can Pneumonia Be Prevented? Can Its Impact Be Lessened?
Please listen friends, we all know that there is no cure or vaccine for COVID-19. Like other viruses, the coronavirus doesn’t care who you are, where you live, the color of your skin, or how much money you make. It doesn’t care if you’re young or old, sick or well. Anyone and everyone can contract and carry this disease.
Some initial trends are emerging in the patients most severely impacted by COVID-19. Underlying health issues such as obesity, those with serious heart conditions, people who are immunocompromised and those with preexisting lung disease are common threads in those most seriously affected.
Most fatalities from COVID-19 have ultimately resulted from pneumonia. So the pressing question is how can you prepare yourself to beat the potentially deadly side effects of pneumonia?
As with pneumococcal pneumonia, it’s believed that COVID-19 patients with certain chronic medical conditions such as COPD – which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis – and asthma are especially at risk.
For adults 65 or older living with COPD, the risk for contracting pneumococcal pneumonia is 7.7 times higher than their healthy counterparts, and those with asthma are at 5.9 times greater risk. COPD and asthma can cause your airways to swell and become blocked with mucus, which can make it hard to breathe and leaves your respiratory system more susceptible to infections like pneumococcal pneumonia. In addition, if you have chronic lung disease and develop pneumococcal pneumonia you may have more severe symptoms and are at higher risk for hospitalization. It can also take you longer to recover and you are more likely to develop serious complications from the infection.
Age alone also increases your risk of serious complications from pneumonia. In fact, for adults 65 years or older, the risk of hospitalization with pneumococcal pneumonia is more than 10 times higher than younger adults aged 18 to 49. That's because the body's immune system naturally weakens as we get older, making it harder for our bodies to fight off infections and disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends pneumococcal vaccination for adults 65 or older, and Medicare covers administration of pneumococcal vaccines for adults 65 or older with no out-of-pocket costs. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 goal for any pneumococcal vaccination for adults 65 or older is 90 percent, but back in September 2016 rates were only around 56 percent—well below the national goal.
The truth is you CAN reduce the health risks of pneumonia by following a few simple steps. Here's how:
While we don’t yet have a vaccine for COVID-19, you should still get your annual influenza vaccine!
💉 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.
💉 Children younger than 5 and adults 65 and older should get vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia, a common form of bacterial pneumonia. The pneumococcal vaccine is also recommended for all children and adults who are at increased risk of pneumococcal disease due to other health conditions. There are two types of pneumococcal vaccine. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if one of them is right for you.
💉 There are several other vaccines that can prevent infections by bacteria and viruses that may lead to pneumonia, including pertussis (whooping cough), chicken pox and measles. Please talk to your doctor about whether you and your children are up to date on your vaccines and to determine if any of these vaccines are appropriate for you.
𝗪𝗔𝗦𝗛 𝗬𝗢𝗨𝗥 𝗛𝗔𝗡𝗗𝗦!
Wash your hands frequently, especially after blowing your nose, going to the bathroom, touching public door handles, railings and grocery carts, changing diapers, and always wash up before eating or preparing foods.
𝗗𝗢𝗡’𝗧 𝗦𝗠𝗢𝗞𝗘 𝗢𝗥 𝗩𝗔𝗣𝗘
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.
Rapidly developing acute lung injuries are associated with inhalational injuries and have overlapping pathological and imaging findings, and they have been reported to occur with vaping. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is an immune response to an environmental antigen, but the antigens related to vaping are unknown. Lipoid pneumonia is an inflammatory response to the presence of lipids within the alveolar space and typically results from aspiration of hydrocarbons or oil-based products, but it has now been seen with vaping.
𝗕𝗘 𝗔𝗪𝗔𝗥𝗘 𝗢𝗙 𝗬𝗢𝗨𝗥 𝗚𝗘𝗡𝗘𝗥𝗔𝗟 𝗛𝗘𝗔𝗟𝗧𝗛
❤️ Since pneumonia often follows respiratory infections, be aware of any symptoms that linger more than a few days.
❤️ A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE MATTERS! — A healthy diet, plenty of sleep, regular exercise, etc.— these will all help keep you from getting sick from viruses and respiratory illnesses. They also help promote faster recovery when you do get a cold, the flu or other respiratory illnesses, such as COVID-19.
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.
It’s important to understand that the existing vaccines against pneumonia, such as the pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, DO NOT provide protection against COVID-19.
The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against 2019-nCoV, and WHO is supporting their efforts.
Although these vaccines are not effective against 2019-nCoV, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health.
𝗕𝗘 𝗛𝗘𝗔𝗟𝗧𝗛𝗬, 𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗬 𝗛𝗘𝗔𝗟𝗧𝗛𝗬
IF EVER YOU NEEDED A REASON TO PRACTICE A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE, COVID-19 IS YOUR REASON.
PLEASE, EAT A HEALTHY DIET FULL OF FRUITS (INCLUDING NUTS AND SEEDS) AND VEGETABLES (INCLUDING LEGUMES). GET PLENTY OF REST. STOP SMOKING. EXERCISE REGULARLY.
WHILE THERE IS NO VACCINE THAT PREVENTS CONTRACTING COVID-19, SOCIAL DISTANCING, FREQUENT HAND WASHING AND A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE WILL GIVE YOU AND YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM THE BEST CHANCE OF FIGHTING COVID-19 RELATED ILLNESS SHOULD YOU BECOME INFECTED.
1) American Lung Association
2) The New England Journal of Medicine. Imaging of Vaping-Associated Lung Disease. October 10, 2019
3) World Health Organization
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