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Reduce your risk of pneumonia

You can take steps to prevent pneumonia. It's especially important to do so if you're at high risk.

Pneumonia is an infection or inflammation of the lungs. It can be mild or severe, depending on the cause of the infection and the overall health of the person who gets it.

Risk factors

According to the American Lung Association, people at high risk for pneumonia include those:

  • With a chronic lung disease (including asthma and COPD), heart disease or diabetes.
  • Recovering from severe illness.
  • In nursing homes or other chronic care facilities.
  • Who smoke cigarettes.
  • Under 5 years of age or 65 or older.

These factors also increase the risk of developing a severe form of the disease. That's why prevention is especially important for people with these risk factors.

Reduce your risk

Three steps can help reduce the risk of pneumonia:

Get a flu shot. Pneumonia often develops as a complication of influenza. A flu shot, therefore, can help protect you against both diseases.

Get vaccinated. You can get vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia, the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia. These vaccines are recommended for everyone at high risk of getting pneumonia.

Stay healthy. Since pneumonia often strikes when the immune system is weak, keeping your immune system strong can help ward off this illness. It can also help ward off other respiratory infections that can lead to pneumonia.

Keep your immune system healthy with good health habits, a healthful diet, cleanliness, rest and regular exercise. Even if you do get sick, you'll get over it faster with a healthy immune system.

Keep an eye on your lungs. Watch out for any respiratory symptoms that last longer than a few days. Though this won't actually prevent pneumonia, it can help prevent a mild case from turning into a serious one. Early treatment makes a big difference.

Reviewed 3/14/2023

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