Preventing problems with your respiratory system Preventing problems with your respiratory system

Many germs such as bacteria, virus or fungi can cause pneumonia: an infection that can affect one or both lungs.

People over age 65 and those under age 2 are those with a greater risk of developing this condition, as well as those with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of pneumonia range from mild to severe. See a doctor if the person has a high fever, chills, a phlegm-producing cough that does not improve or worsens, shortness of breath when doing daily tasks, and chest pain, among others. To make a diagnosis, specialists will review the patient’s medical history, will perform a physical exam and conduct laboratory tests.

As the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute indicates, treatment depends on how serious pneumonia is. If bacteria are the cause, antibiotics is the recommended route.

To prevent it, vaccines can be administered. Other prevention guidelines include frequent hand-washing and not smoking.  

For some older adults and people with heart failure or chronic lung problems, pneumonia can become a potentially life-threatening condition.

What types of pneumonia are there?

Depending on where and when the pneumonia was contracted, it can be classified as follows:

  • Community-acquired pneumonia (outside of the hospital). It is contracted outside a clinical environment, during a patient’s day-to-day activities and comes from an infection caused by different microorganisms (mainly bacteria and viruses).
  • Hospital-acquired pneumonia. This type is contracted from a medical setting. It tends to be much more serious because the patient’s defense mechanisms are usually already compromised and the microorganisms that cause it are more resistant to antibiotics.

Related article: Tips for preventing respiratory infections