- Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus causing cough with phlegm, fever, chills, and difficulty of breathing.
- Bacteria, viruses and fungi can cause pneumonia.
- Pneumonia can be very serious and can cause death. It accounts for 16% of all deaths of children under 5 years, killing 920,136 children worldwide in 2015.
- Some of the risk factors for developing pneumonia include a weakened immune system, chronic diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, recent surgery or trauma and environmental factors such as indoor pollution, living in crowded homes and smoking.
- Pneumonia can be spread by:
- Inhalation of viruses and bacteria that are commonly found in a child’s nose or throat.
- Inhalation of contaminated airborne droplets from someone else’s cough or sneeze.
- Through blood, especially during and shortly after birth.
Signs and Symptoms
These may vary from mild to severe, depending on factors such as the type of germ causing the infection, age and overall health:
- Cough, which may produce phlegm
- Difficult and painful breathing
- Confusion (in adults age 65 and older)
- Fever, sweating and chills
Pneumonia can be treated with oral antibiotics. Hospitalization is recommended for severe cases.
Prevention and Control
- Get vaccinated. Talk to your doctor about getting these shots.
- Adequate nutrition to improve natural defence and strength of respiratory muscles.
- Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and adequate complementary feeding.
- Practice good hygiene. Wash hands regularly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Don’t smoke.