Pneumonia is an infection of lungs characterized by fever, cough, chest pain, breathing difficulties and in severe cases it may lead to coma and death. Most commonly, it affects children under the age of 5 years worldwide. In addition, the aged people above 65 years are also at a higher risk. Pneumonia can be of different types. It can be Bacterial, Fungal or Viral in nature depending on its root cause. Broadly it can be divided into two categories: 1.Community Acquired Pneumonia 2.Nosocomial or Hospital Acquired pneumonia.
According to WHO, “Pneumonia killed 920 136 children under the age of 5 in 2015, accounting for 16% of all deaths of children under five years old.” According to another report released by the Global Coalition Against Child Pneumonia in 2014, “Pakistan ranks third in the list of 15 high burden countries where the estimated deaths of children by pneumonia is alarmingly high. 71000 children die of pneumonia annually in Pakistan.” Let us put some light on how we can prevent the increasing cases of pneumonia in Pakistan.
Immunization against bacteria like Haemophilus Influenza type b, Pneumococcus PCV, measles and pertussis (whooping cough) plays a major role in reducing risks of pneumonia in children and consequently improves the child mortality rate. As far as “High Risk Old Age Adults”(people age above 65 years, Asthmatics, COPD, immuno-compromised etc.) are concerned, pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) is available. Its timely vaccination combined with annual FLU shot helps in controlling pneumonia in these high risk people
2. Quit Smoking
Smokers are at a higher risk of getting pneumonia. This is because of the weakened immunity added on by the lethal effects of smoke contents on lungs. Most importantly, smoking with in the vicinity of small children surely has bad effects on children through passive smoking.
3. Maintaining Good Hygiene
Pneumonia is more common in winters than summers. As a result, during the peak season, keeping good care of hygiene and environment may help in controlling the spread of infection. This can be done by;
Encouraging hand washing especially before having food.
Use of tissue papers for sneezing or coughing and discarding it right away into the dustbin.
Keeping the towels and fomites separate for each individual.
Avoiding direct contact with pets.
Use of alcohol based hand sanitizers in hospitals, markets will also help in controlling the spread of pneumonia.
4. Avoid Contact With Infected Patients
Pneumonia is a highly contagious disease and spreads through air borne particles released by sneezing or coughing. So, isolation of the infected patient may help in controlling the spread of this deadly infection.
5. Maintaining Good Health
Keeping your health in a good state surely helps against pneumonia. In other words, good health means strong immune system and as a result this strong immunity alone is enough to combat the pneumonia causing bacteria and viruses. This can be achieved by;
6. Good Ventilation & Minimizing Indoor Air Pollution
Overcrowded and poorly ventilated houses play a major role in spread of pneumonia. Therefore, adequate ventilation together with minimizing indoor air pollution like smoke, insecticides etc. may help in controlling the spread of this contagious disease.
In conclusion, together with the above measures, early diagnosis and prompt treatment can surely help in controlling the increasing cases of pneumonia in all age groups in Pakistan. For more detailed checkup and if persistent symptoms exists, one can book appointment with a pulmonologist.