How to Avoid Pneumonia

The incidence of pneumonia has increased in recent years, especially in hospitals and nursing homes. Those at greatest risk include the elderly, alcoholics, recent surgical patients, and people weakened by chronic ill­ness such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or lung disease. If you fall into one of these categories, try to avoid places and situations that put you at higher risk of catching this disease. Here are some tips to help you avoid pneumonia:

  • Don’t procrastinate; vaccinate. Ask your doctor if you should get a vaccination against pneumonia. It’s a good idea if you’re over 65 or have lung or kidney problems, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or cirrhosis. A shot to shield you from the most common strains of pneumonia should be available at your local health department for a modest fee. One shot is usually all you need for a lifetime of protection.


  • Get your flu shot. Although flu vaccines are not 100 percent effective, they can protect you against some strains of influenza. Flu is often the first strike that puts you at risk of pneumonia. It’s particularly important to protect yourself from flu if you have diabetes, a weak immune system, or heart, lung, or kidney problems. Ask your spouse and close family members to get flu shots too, so they won’t bring the flu to you.
  • Keep your distance. If a friend or family member has a bad cold or the flu, don’t get near them. Any respiratory illness puts you at higher risk of pneumonia. You don’t want to hurt your dear one’s feelings, of course, but you don’t want to risk your health either.
  • Stay out of crowds as much as you can during the winter months, known as the “flu season.” Being in a large group of people increases your risk of getting respiratory infections that can lead to pneumonia.
  • Keep your hands clean. Wash your hands fre­quently, especially after you’ve been around sick people or out in public. Your hands are a prime gathering place for germs because of all the things they touch, such as doors, doorknobs, railings, shopping carts, and cash. Other people, some of them with respiratory infections, have touched these things too. Protect yourself by washing your hands the minute you walk in your door.
  • Douse the fire. You probably already know the other health reasons to stop smoking, but you may not know it increases your risk of pneumo­nia. If you want to protect yourself from pneumo­nia and a host of other health problems, embark on a program to quit smoking.
  • Come in out of the cold. It’s just an old wives’ tale that you catch a cold by being out in cold weath­er. But if you are already in a weakened state, breathing in really cold air can further stress your lungs and bronchial tubes and make you more vulnerable to pneumonia.
  • Bring down your stress level. Some stress will keep you on your toes; too much can make you sick. A high level of stress will suppress your immune system so it can’t do its job of fighting off disease. Give yourself a break and get rid of those unimportant things in your life that only stress you out.

  • Avoid pox like the plague. Although it may seem to be only a childhood disease, it isn’t. If you never had chickenpox as a child, you could catch it as an adult. It’s a much more serious disease in adults, and pneumonia is one of the possible com­plications. If your little neighbor has a case of chickenpox, stay away until he’s well.
  • Treat it right. The next time you get a cold or other respiratory infection, be sure you do all the right things to treat it, and see your doctor early. Don’t let the illness get out of hand and turn into a case of pneumonia.

Pneumonia is a serious illness but one you can easily protect yourself against. Your best defense is to steer clear of the hazards of winter illness. Follow our tips and do all you can to keep yourself healthy. If you get pneu­monia despite your best efforts, follow your doctor’s orders and take good care of yourself, and you should recover quickly.

Filed Under: Health & Personal Care


About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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