Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. Small air sacs fill with mucus or pus, rendering them useless. If a sufficient amount of the lung is affected, the condition can be fatal. Seniors, including Former President Bush recently, are particularly susceptible. Anything that stresses your immune system can put you at risk. Flu infections frequently lead to pneumonia. Chronic reflux and smoking are also huge risk factors.
Signs and symptoms: Typical symptoms include a cough, fever, and chest congestion. Elderly patients may have more subtle symptoms, such as fatigue, lethargy, or confusion.
What to do: See your doctor for persistent symptoms, especially shortness of breath. Antibiotics and mucus-thinning agents are generally effective. Inhalers or supplemental oxygen may be necessary. Prevention is crucial, especially for seniors. New vaccinations are available and recommended for children under two and seniors over sixty-five. Adults aged nineteen to sixty-four should be vaccinated if they have conditions that make them more susceptible, such as emphysema or diabetes. And stop smoking.
Thought for the day: Ordinary citizens and leaders of nations should all get pneumonia vaccinations.
What’s Going Around is contributed by family practice doctor Kyle Scarborough, M.D. You can reach him at email@example.com.