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5 Steps to Prevent Pneumonia

Washing hands

Pneumonia is a serious lung infection. Each year, about one million people in the U.S. are hospitalized with pneumonia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 50,000 of those people die from the disease. The good news is: pneumonia is preventable. Find out the 5 steps to keep pneumonia away.

Pneumonia Facts and Symptoms

Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi that can strike one or both lungs. While it can occur any time of year and affect anyone, pneumonia often hits during flu season, and becomes most serious among older adults, children and those who suffer from respiratory conditions, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma.

Symptoms, causes and risk factors of pneumonia vary depending on whether it’s caused by a bacteria or a virus. Young, healthy people are affected differently than those whose immune systems are weaker.

The disease usually starts while a person is already suffering from another kind of upper respiratory infection, such as a cold or flu. Symptoms may include: fever, with or without chills; muscle aches; fatigue; enlarged lymph nodes in the neck; chest pain; sore throat; coughing; shortness of breath; and rapid breathing. One may also experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heavy sweating, and mental confusion.

Bacterial pneumonia in children may be more subtle with labored and rapid breathing, fever, cough, wheezing, and bluish skin and lips. Infants may become fussy or have difficulty feeding.

Call your doctor if you or someone in your family experiences these symptoms, if symptoms linger longer than a few days, or if they worsen.

The Best Defense is Prevention: 5 Steps to Help Prevent Pneumonia

  1. Get a flu shot. Flu is a common cause of pneumonia, so one of the best defenses against contracting pneumonia is to get a flu shot each year.
  2. If you are high risk, get vaccinated. Talk with your doctor to determine if you need the pneumococcal vaccine. This vaccine is recommended for all children under the age of 5 and for adults age 65 and older, and for anyone at increased risk of developing pneumococcal pneumonia due to other health conditions. Ask your doctor about other vaccines that can prevent infections that may lead to pneumonia, including pertussis, chicken pox and measles.
  3. Wash your hands. Frequent hand washing, especially after blowing your nose, going to the bathroom, diapering, and before eating or preparing foods, prevents the spread of germs and disease.
  4. Don’t smoke. If you smoke, you are considered at high risk for getting pneumonia because tobacco damages your lung's ability to fight off infection. LG Health offers several smoking cessation programs to help you quit.
  5. Maintain good health habits. Eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep can help prevent pneumonia and other diseases. If you are concerned about your health, talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes you can make to become healthier.

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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