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5 things you should know about pneumonia

(NC) With health experts suggesting that Canada will experience a stronger cold and flu season this year, it’s a good idea to stay informed on health matters, like pneumonia. The condition involves the swelling of one or both lungs and is usually caused by an infection. Here are some things you need to know to help keep you and your family healthy this winter.

  1. There are many causes of pneumonia.Many different germs can cause pneumonia, including bacteria, viruses and fungi. The most common type of bacterial pneumonia is pneumococcal, which is caused by streptococcus pneumoniae. When you breathe in these germs, they can settle in your lungs and cause an infection.
  2. Bacteria that cause pneumonia are probably already in your body.The bacteria that cause pneumonia may already live in your nose or throat. They are, however, kept out of your lungs by your immune system. But if you are 65 or older, your immune system weakens, increasing your risk of contracting this disease.
  3. Two shots are better than one.There are two pneumonia vaccines. For the best protection against pneumococcal pneumonia, adults 65 and older should speak to their healthcare provider about getting both.
  4. Anyone can get it.While some people are at a higher risk of contracting pneumonia, anyone can get it. Those at a higher risk include people who smoke, those with an impaired immune system, children younger than five years of age or seniors older than 65, and those with a chronic medical condition like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  5. It can be deadly.In Canada, there are more than 24,000 hospitalizations annually from pneumonia. As one of the leading causes of hospitalizations and deaths in seniors, pneumococcal pneumonia alone kills 1,500 Canadian adults each year. Complications from this disease include severe fever and difficulty breathing with older adults at risk of experiencing confusion or low alertness. And 72 percent of adult patients who survive pneumonia will be re-hospitalized within three to five years.

Learn more online at lungontario.ca/vaccines.