Essential things to know about lung infections on World Pneumonia Day

India accounts for 23% of global pneumonia burden with case fatality rates between 14% and 30%, and the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae is considered a major bacterial cause.

By:November 12, 2021 3:44 PM
pneumonia, vaccination, pneumococcal vaccine, COVID-19, lung infectionsWorld Pneumonia Day, marked every year on November 12, was established by the Stop Pneumonia Initiative in 2009 to raise awareness about pneumonia.

By Dr Sonali Dighe

Vaccination can help prevent pneumococcal pneumonia. Pneumococcal vaccine is already available and can be given to patients at any age, based on the doctor’s prescription and recommendation. 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 as an adult.

Most healthy people recover from pneumonia in one to three weeks, but it can be life-threatening. You can reduce your risk of getting pneumonia by following few simple steps.

Several hygiene practices that have now been enforced in public places or in areas with high footfall also help lower the risk of infectious diseases such as pneumococcal pneumonia. For example, frequent hand washing, particularly after visiting a public area; the wearing of masks especially if a person has symptoms of a respiratory infection; and the maintaining of social distance as far as possible, can help lower the transmission of bacterial and viral infections.

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-21 made all of us pay greater attention to our respiratory health, immunity and hygiene practices. This must continue even after the pandemic has loosened its grip on us particularly because even before COVID-19, lung infections (pneumonia) were the single biggest infectious killer of adults and children – claiming the lives of 2.5 million, including 672,000 children, in 2019.

India accounts for 23% of global pneumonia burden with case fatality rates between 14% and 30%, and the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae is considered a major bacterial cause.

World Pneumonia Day, marked every year on November 12, was established by the Stop Pneumonia Initiative in 2009 to raise awareness about the toll of pneumonia – and to advocate for global action to protect against, help prevent and effectively treat this deadly illness.

One bacterial species deserves special attention when it comes to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. It is a serious illness that can affect people of any age, but it is most common and most dangerous in very young children, people older than 65, and people with underlying medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes, or chronic lung disease.

Pneumonia is a common lung infection caused by germs, such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. It can be a complication of the flu but other viruses, bacteria and even fungi can cause pneumonia.

Pneumococcal disease is a name for any infection caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae, or pneumococcus. Pneumococcal infections can range from ear and sinus infections to pneumonia and bloodstream infections. Anyone can get pneumococcal disease, but some people are at increased risk. Being a certain age or having certain medical conditions can increase a person’s risk for pneumococcal disease.

Who’s at risk?

Pneumococcal pneumonia is a potentially serious disease you shouldn’t ignore. It can disrupt your life for weeks and even land you in the hospital. The immune system naturally weakens with age, so even if you’re healthy and active, being 65 or older is a key risk factor for pneumococcal pneumonia.

Pneumococcal bacteria spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing, and close contact. People can carry the bacteria in their nose and throat without being sick and spread the bacteria to others.

Chronic conditions like lung diseases including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma, heart disease, and diabetes can make people more vulnerable to potentially serious illnesses like pneumococcal pneumonia. Smoking damages fragile lung tissue, making lungs more vulnerable to infection. When lung tissue is damaged by smoking, there’s a higher risk of infection by the bacteria that cause pneumococcal pneumonia.

(The author is Medical Director, Pfizer Limited. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult health experts and medical professionals before starting any therapy or medication. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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