Pneumonia occurs more in winter. How we can prevent the family members. 

Pneumonia occurs more in winter. How we can prevent the family members. 

Covering mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing can prevent pneumonia.

Pneumonia is an infection of lungs.

By Mahmood Hussain 16th December 2017, write articles and blogs to be published in BABY FIRST PAKISTAN and on Facebook/babyfirstPakistan and other social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter and so on. The writer is from Karachi, Pakistan Currently he is in Philadelphia, the USA which is chilling and snowing occasionally.

In below article, the reference data and reports were collected from WHO & CDC, beside my education and work experience of four decades in the healthcare industry.

It occurs commonly in the form of acute chest infection, which means lungs are affected.

Pneumonia refers to the condition of acute respiratory tract infection which mainly affects lungs.

Statistic updated in October 2016.

  • Pneumonia is the leading cause of death i.e. 16% among children below the age of 5 years. In the year 2015 pneumonia kills more than 92,000 children worldwide, reported by WHO.
  • The incidence of pneumonia can be prevented by proper immunization (that is vaccination which is especially recommended in the adult of over 62 years and for all age children), good – healthy nutrition and protecting from environmental pollution.
  • Pneumonia occurs mainly due to the bacteria, as well as by virus or fungi.
  • Bacterial pneumonia can be treated with the antibiotic. As reported by WHO which states 1/3rd of children receive the needed antibiotic to treat pneumonia. In case patient affected by the virus, they will heal by natural immunity and doctors do prescribe in Pakistan antibiotics to prevent them from secondary infection.
  • Fungal pneumonia is also an infection of the lungs and this is caused by the fungi. This can have caused by opportunistic or endemic fungi or this can be a combination of both. If the patient is immunocompromised than mortality rate is 90%, in rest of cases patient respond well to ant-fungal treatment.

Pneumonia affects lungs and these are made of small sacs the alveoli. The function of alveoli is, it fills with air for breathing which is essential for healthy living. When a person is suffering from pneumonia these air sacs are filled with pus and fluid. This makes difficulty in breathing the condition is also painful and to a certain extent limit the oxygen uptake from the lungs.

In children below the age of 5 years, pneumonia is the single largest cause of death around the world. Pneumonia affects children as well as adults around the globe, but its incidence is more in poor countries such South Asia especially in SARRC region and Sub Saharan Africa.

The incidence of pneumonia is more common among children and followed by elderly people. Both these age group can be protected by simple preventive measures and if it occurs can be treated in a very economical way by low cost effective generic medication and proper care.

Causes of pneumonia.

These are due to the number of infective agents such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. The most common is the bacterial infection such as:

It is mainly due to gram-positive bacteria, streptococcal pneumonia which is the most common in the children to suffer from pneumonia.

Next common bacteria to cause pneumonia is known as Haemophilus influenza type b (commonly referred as Hib).

In term of viral pneumonia, it is known as the respiratory syncytial virus, which is very common in infants, this is also responsible for the death of 25% of the infant due to pneumonia.

Prevention of pneumonia:

Below are listed the facts we should know regarding pneumonia. It can be prevented by following the simple steps.

Have vaccination. Have Flu shot each year before the start of the winter or cold season to all the family members.  It has been observed flu is a common cause which may lead to pneumonia, especially among children of less than 5 years. Preventing from flu the young ones, elderly above the age of 65 and all other members of the family is the better way to prevent pneumonia.

Have pneumococcal vaccine to the children below the age of 5 years and adults above the age of 65. This will protect them from bacterial pneumonia, which is most common.

The pneumococcal vaccine is strongly recommended for all children all age and adult who are having compromised health conditions, they need to reduce the risk of pneumonia.

Please do consult your physician or your child pediatrician which one is the best option for available two types of vaccine.

It is also very much essential and compulsory that your child is having timely vaccination which should cover up pertussis, chicken pox and measles as recommended by CDC and WHO.  This will protect the child from viral or bacterial pneumonia.

Hand washing. This is a very good habit to wash your hand frequently, this should be mandatory after blowing nose, changing a diaper, visiting to the bathroom or in case if you are preparing or eating or giving food to the baby.

Work to maintain good health habits and lifestyle. This means eat the healthy diet, maintain regular physical activities, proper rest and good/sound sleep. With these activities, this will help you to combat from getting sick from viral pneumonia and also respiratory illness. These will also help you in early recovery from cold, flu and any respiratory illness.

In case of children consult your doctor for Hib vaccine to protect them from notorious Haemophilus influenza type B.

If you are a smoker, please DO STOP SMOKING.

All form of tobacco is very bad for your health because it directly affects our respiratory (breathing) system especially the lungs. Tobacco reduces the lung ability to fight infection. Smokers are listed as the high-risk patient for pneumonia and they are recommended to have pneumococcal vaccine. The same may apply for eating Guttka, tobacco chewing, sheesha, paan refer to betel leaf which freely and readily available in Indo-Pakistan which have the population of approximately 1.5 billion.

Anyone can have pneumonia, this is because of respiratory tract infection.  Normally and mostly because of flu, but there are many forms of illness associated with it. People or children suffering from chronic diseases such as athame and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are risky patients for pneumonia.

What is the risk factor among children?

The healthy children can cope up or combat with infection because of their natural defense system.

  • Children whose immunity is comprised are at greater risk to develop pneumonia. The weak immune system in children/infant may be due to malnutrition or they are underfed, especially in case of the infant who is not fed on breast milk. In our SARRC region and especially in Pakistan a considerable number of children are undernourished which result in malnutrition. They are a week and debilitated.
  • If a baby is exposed to measles than likely hood of contracting pneumonia.
  • Chances of the child to catch pneumonia among those who are kept indoors and the food are also cooked in a closed environment.
  • In the chilly weather if heating is done either by wood, coal or dung which causes pollution.
  • Living in the congested and crowded home.
  • If parent either father or mother is a smoker and who do not exercise caution while smoking will allow the child and themselves to suffer. It much better to quit smoking for their health and for their loved ones.

Symptoms associated with pneumonia.

Symptoms of pneumonia among patient can be mild to severe in intensity. Symptom severity is dependent on the type of pneumonia from which patient is suffering, his /her age and how is his overall health.

The symptom most commonly associated are listed below.

  • Coughing, in few cases this can be associated with a cough along with yellow or greenish pus. In few cases, they even discharge bloody mucus.
  • Having a fever, which can be mild 101F or high grade such as 104F to 105F in case of bacterial origin.
  • Feeling of shortness of breath which is evident while climbing the stairs.
  • The chilly feeling which may lead to the severe shaking of the body.

In severe cases below symptom may also arise:

  • Pneumonia may lead to chest pain or urge for stabbing or thumping of chest,
  • Headache
  • Profuse sweating.
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Feeling of fatigue and low energy level. Which means general weakness.
  • State of confusion among elderly patient and delirium.

Symptoms vary from patient to patient, it is dependent on which type of pneumonia is it bacterial or viral in origin.

Bacterial origin pneumonia is more severe in intensity. In this condition, a temperature may go up to 105F, which may also lead to excessive sweating and abnormal increase in breathing and have a rapid increase in pulse rate. When examining their nail bed and skin, it appears bluish in color and which is due to lack of oxygen. The patient mental state looks quite confused and may be in a state of delirium.

If pneumonia is of viral origin than initial; symptom will be same as of influenza fever. The common symptoms are fever, head and body ache, dry cough and severe weakness. Later feeling of breathlessness. with the increase in the intensity of coughing along with mucus.

High-grade fever and appear bluish lips and face which is due to lack of oxygen in the blood.

If anyone suffering from viral pneumonia he /she may be at risk to have bacterial pneumonia.

We all need to join hands with WHO and UNICEF to integrate their global action plan for pneumonia and diarrhea (GAPPD).

For further details please visit the website of these two authorities

Article is written by Mahmood Hussain for Baby First Pakistan website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other popular social media

About Mahmood Hussain

Professional Experience More than 36 years work experience in Healthcare & Pharmaceutical sectorDirector & General Manager Baby First (Pvt.) Ltd Pakistan March 2011 – till to date I have been associated with Baby First (Pvt) Ltd for more than 5 years. It is advisory, community and social interaction medium for parents 16-38 years and babies 0-6 years.General Manager Aga Khan Health Service Pakistasn December 2005 – December 2007 (2 years 1 month)Based at Karachi Pakistan Worked as General Manager managing Karachi & Baluchistan Health care services of AKHSP which includes primary and secondary health care centers and diagnostic centers on all areas nearly 102 centers which include three leading hospitals in Karachi.General Manager Janssen Cilag (Johnson & Johnson) February 1998 – January 2005 (7 years)Education MBA, Marketing 1995 – 1996, Preston University MSc, Biochemistry 1970 – 1974, Karachi University

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