Pneumonia – The Risks and How to Protect Yourself

Pneumonia is a significant inflammation of the lungs. It is typically a result of an infection, although in some cases it can be the result of inhaling vomit, chemicals or smoke. It affects around 1% of us each year and can be contracted regardless of your age although it is most common in the elderly. The symptoms of pneumonia typically manifest themselves quickly and include a fever, difficult or painful breathing, fatigue and a cough.

Sometimes confused with a chest infection which is an infection which can occur anywhere within the chest, pneumonia is an infection within the actual lung tissue itself.

Who is at risk of contracting pneumonia?

1. Heavy drinkers, smokers and intravenous drug users

2. Infants (aged under two) or individuals aged over 65 years

3. Individuals with respiratory problems such as asthma.

4. Individuals who have had their spleen removed.

5. Anyone who suffered an infection such as influenza.

In the majority of cases pneumonia is diagnosed by an examination of your chest by your doctor or medical practitioner. To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor may request you attend the local hospital to obtain an x-ray to ascertain the extent of any inflammation. It is wise if you are in an at risk category to obtain the yearly flu jab. This will need to be discussed with your doctor or medical practitioner who may also consider the pneumococcal vaccine. Pneumococcus is the commonest cause of bacterial pneumonia and once vaccinated against it, this will last you a lifetime as a top up or booster jab is not required.