World Pneumonia Day - November 12th, 2014

World pneumonia day may have come and gone, but it's something that should definitely be talked about. During the winter months, pneumonia can be a really danger to anyone, but especially to those with compromised immune systems and chronic lung diseases. November 12th is World Pneumonia Day, as named by the American Lung Association. Pneumonia is actually one of the leading causes of death worldwide, according to the American Lung Association.

If you are over the age of 55 or have a chronic lung disease, it's recommended that you get a pneumonia vaccine. There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines. Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) is the most common, and given to adults between the ages of 19 and 64 with medical conditions, like asthma, COPD and certain kidney diseases. You would only need to get it every 5 years if your doctor sees the need for it.

The other type is the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13), which is given to adults with conditions like asplenia, sickle cell disease or cerebrospinal fluid leaks, as well as those with cochlear implants. If your doctor sees the need for it, you will need to get the booster shot every 5 years.

Why is it important to get vaccinated?

If you have a compromised immune system for any reason, pneumonia can lead to a long stay in the hospital or even death. Pneumonia is caused by a bacteria, virus or fungus which infects the lungs and causes problems outside of the lungs, like fever, chills and headaches. Confusion can happen in severe cases, or in older people.

How can I avoid getting sick if I don't get vaccinated?

If you don't get the vaccine because you don't have one of these diseases or are over the age of 55, you can catch it, especially if the viral strain of pneumonia is going around. The bacterial or fungal infection of pneumonia is harder to catch, because you would have to come into direct contact with it.

You can help prevent from getting both by washing your hands frequently, and by not touching commonly touched surfaces in public places such as door handles and shopping cart handles. You can use the sanitary wipes provided at the entrances of many large stores to wipe off the handles of shopping carts, or carry hand sanitizer with you.

Viral pneumonia can last for as long as 1 to 3 weeks, and can only be treated with bed rest, plenty of fluids and a close eye from your doctor. Before taking any cough medicine, you should ask your doctor first, because not coughing will prevent you from coughing the sputum from your lungs.

Bacterial pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics, and will most likely go away when you're done with the round of antibiotics, or not long afterward. You would also need to get plenty of rest and drink a lot of fluids to get better as quickly as possible.

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