Winter is fast approaching, and for many people, that means preparing for peak flu activity. However, pneumonia is also a looming threat during this time of year – but fewer people are aware of its serious risks and signs.
Even more concerningly, many people develop pneumonia with flu infections. A staggering 1 million Americans are hospitalized due to pneumonia each year, making awareness and prevention important to people of all age groups and backgrounds.
The more you know about pneumonia prevention, the better you’ll be able to protect yourself and your loved ones from threatening infections.
In this article, we want to share key facts such as common symptoms of pneumonia, what puts people at high risk for the disease, and what the CDC recommends during flu season.
Have questions or need further assistance? Don’t hesitate to reach out to a Klingensmith’s pharmacist during flu season. We’re here to help you protect yourself from everything, including the common cold and other respiratory diseases.
Pneumonia is a respiratory condition in which the air sacs in one or both lungs become inflamed. These air sacs may fill with fluid or pus, resulting in illness with symptoms that can range from mild coughing and fatigue to high fevers and serious respiratory problems, especially in adults 65 years and older.
This disease can endure anywhere from a week to over a monthand tends to last the longest in those with pre-existing medical conditions. In the worst-case scenarios, patients may need to be hospitalized to receive more advanced treatments for pneumonia or the influenza virus.
What Causes Pneumonia?
Certain types of bacteria, viruses, and fungi can all cause pneumonia. The most common type in adults is bacterial pneumonia derived from Streptococcus pneumoniae.
Symptoms of Pneumonia
The signs and symptoms of pneumonia can vary based on your age, health status, and the cause of the infection. Some of the most prevalent signs of this disease include:
- A persistent cough that produces mucus
- Fever and chills
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Chest pain that worsens when breathing or coughing
- Fatigue and weakness
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
Noting and understanding the signs of pneumonia can help patients receive a timely diagnosis and treatment. It’s particularly essential to watch for the symptoms of pneumonia in kids and elderly adults, especially during the cold months and seasonal influenza spikes.
Is There a Vaccine for Pneumonia?
There are multiple pneumonia vaccine options. These vaccines target the specific types of pneumonia that are most common and work by safely introducing your body’s immune system to a part of the bacteria. This process helps your body resist the disease if exposed to these bacteria, especially during flu seasons.
The CDC recommends two types of pneumonia prevention shots—pneumococcal conjugate vaccines PCV15 and PCV20, and the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, or PPSV23.
At Klingensmith’s, we carry both PCV20 and PPSV23. If you have questions about getting pneumococcal vaccines, especially during times of high flu activity, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert team today.
Pneumonia vaccines are generally recommended for those who are at increased risk of developing the disease during flu season, including…
- Young children under the age of 2
- Adults 65 years or older
- People of all ages with certain underlying health conditions.
These health conditions include but are not limited to chronic heart, liver, lung, and sickle cell disease, as well as HIV, diabetes, and other immunocompromising conditions.
If you’re wondering if you should get vaccinated this flu season, get in touch with your local pharmacist and discuss the latest pneumonia vaccine guidelines. They will help you determine whether or not you are a high-risk patient.
Additionally, we recommend that everyone receive an annual flu vaccine, including adults 65 years or older and most young children.
An influenza infection is often a precursor to pneumonia, particularly in the elderly and those with chronic ailments. Therefore, getting the flu vaccine serves as a second layer of defense, as it can indirectly prevent secondary bacterial pneumonia and other respiratory viruses.
Other Strategies for the Prevention of Pneumonia
In addition to getting a pneumonia vaccine, there are lifestyle changes that can help keep you safe. Here are a few simple strategies to avoid this respiratory disease and decrease your risk factors, especially during seasons with peak flu activity.
✓ Practice Excellent Hygiene
Good personal hygiene helps keep pneumonia-causing bacteria away during flu season. Practice regular hand-washing with soap and water, and use a hand sanitizer when water isn’t available.
In particular, make sure to wash your hands before cooking and eating, after using the bathroom, and whenever you are around other sick people.
Additionally, the CDC recommends that you refrain from touching your face frequently. When you touch your face, bacteria from your hands can easily spread to your nose, mouth, and eyes, leading to health problems and potential infections.
✓ Avoid Smoking & Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Both smoking and drinking alcohol can make it harder for your body to fight off illnesses like pneumonia. Smoking damages the lungs, making smokers more susceptible to respiratory infections.
When alcohol is consumed in excess, it can also weaken the immune system, which is especially risky during times of high flu activity.
✓ Steer Clear of Respiratory Irritants
Pollutants, chemicals, and certain allergens can all aggravate the respiratory system. Use an air purifier at home to maintain a healthy environment. When you need to walk outside in a polluted area, wear a mask to limit your exposure.
✓ Exercise Regularly
Keeping your body fit supports a robust immune system and lowers your risk of developing pneumonia or flu infection. Aim for a mix of cardiovascular and strength-building workouts, especially during flu seasons.
Available Treatments for Pneumonia
There are several treatments available for pneumonia. The right option depends on the strain of pneumonia you have and your symptoms.
Consult with your pharmacist and healthcare provider to find the right treatment for your needs. They will provide guidance on recommended doses, potential side effects, and how treatments may affect other medical conditions.
Pneumonia treatment antibiotics are the go-to treatment for bacterial forms of the disease. The exact type and dosage of antibiotic you take will depend on the specific bacteria causing the infection, so speak to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to learn more.
Viral strains of pneumonia require corresponding antiviral medications. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, so your healthcare provider will determine if antiviral treatment for pneumonia is necessary.
Fungal pneumonia is prevalent in those with compromised immune systems. Serious infections may require antifungal treatment for pneumonia to eradicate the disease.
Over-the-counter medications can help relieve symptoms like coughs, fevers, and chest pain in pneumonia patients.
If you’re suffering from any of these symptoms, ask your pharmacist about suitable medications for relief. They will ensure that your OTC medications don’t interfere with any other pneumonia treatment you may be receiving.
In severe cases of severe illness or lung infection, hospitalization and more extensive medical attention may be required. While in the hospital, patients with severe symptoms or serious infections will likely receive intravenous medication and oxygen therapy.
Protect Your Family During Pneumonia and Flu Season
Don’t let pneumonia or circulating influenza viruses sneak up on you this winter. Understanding how to prevent and treat respiratory illness is essential for everyone, but especially for people 65 years and older who are at the greatest risk.
At Klingensmith’s, we’re here to support your health journey, and that includes arming you with information about various illnesses and their prevention.
If you’re interested in receiving a pneumonia or flu vaccine or filling a prescription for your care plan, we’re here to help.
Visit your local Klingensmith’s pharmacy for more information on public health initiatives, including recommended vaccines and pneumonia treatment options. We’re always committed to your well-being, especially as we enter the thick of flu season.