Pneumonia is a lower respiratory tract disease (infection of the lungs) and the second leading cause of death in Nigeria. It can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages. Pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics, if symptoms are recognized early.

Here are 11 facts you probably did not know about the disease.

 

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Pneumonia is a contagious disease which is caused by bacterial, fungal or viral infection as a result of breathing in germs from a dirty environment.

 

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The disease spreads through coughs and sneezes. Contrary to what many believe about Pneumonia, it’s not contacted by taking cold drinks or from being exposed to cold weather; although those may aggravate the condition, they are not the primary cause.

 

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60% of childhood pneumonia deaths happen in 6 countries. It is also the leading cause of death in children younger than 5 years of age worldwide.

 

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Most people with pneumonia begin with cold and flu symptoms and then develop a high fever, chills, and cough with green mucus or sputum.

 

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People considered at high risk for pneumonia include the elderly (over 65 years of age), the very young and those with underlying health problems.

 

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There are two vaccines that are available to prevent pneumococcal disease (the bacterial infection that is the most common cause of pneumonia) – Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (Prevnar) and Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (Pneumovax). Pneumovax is administered to adults who are at increased risk of developing pneumococcal pneumonia, such as the elderly, diabetic, those with chronic heart, lung, or kidney disease, alcoholics, smokers, those without a spleen and those that have been exposed to certain chemicals or pollutants.

 

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Around 59.7% of adults 65 years and over have received the pneumonia vaccination.

 

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Symptoms of pneumonia are fast breathing and shortness of breath,  chest pain that usually worsens when taking a deep breath (pleuritic pain), fast heartbeat, feeling very weak, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, headache and muscle pain.

 

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It is estimated that 175,000 cases of pneumococcal pneumonia occur each year, with a fatality rate of 19%, or even much higher among the elderly.

 

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The pneumonia vaccine may not completely prevent older adults from getting pneumonia, but it can reduce the severity of a future pneumonia.

 

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To better manage pneumonia symptoms, it is important to get plenty of rest and sleep and drink lots of fluids.

 

NOTE:

Hospitalization for pneumonia may be required if symptoms are severe or if a patient has a weak immune system or other serious illness. Some are treated with intravenous antibiotics and possibly put on oxygen.

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In addition to vaccinations, doctors recommend that people wash hands, refrain from smoking, eat healthily, exercise, and stay away from sputum or cough particles from others with pneumonia.

 

We hope you have learnt, ‘unlearnt’ and ‘relearnt’ one or two things in this week’s edition of COUNT DOWN. Stay healthy and stay tuned till next week for another engaging & insightful edition.

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