Reducing Your Risk of Pneumonia
Smoking irritates your lungs and interferes with the normal defenses that protect you against infection. If you stop smoking, your lungs will gradually heal themselves. Your doctor can recommend programs or nicotine replacement systems that can help you stop smoking.
Use Precautions to Avoid Infections
Here are some basic steps to help you avoid infection and keep your lungs healthy:
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
- Avoid being near people who are ill.
- Avoid exposure to toxic or damaging fumes; exposure to gases, chemicals, air pollution, and secondhand smoke can irritate your lungs and make them more vulnerable to infection.
- Eat a healthful, nutritious diet. Maintaining good nutrition helps keep your immune system strong.
- Get appropriate exercise. In general, getting appropriate exercise can help keep your immune system functioning optimally.
- Don’t use intravenous drugs. Use of illegal intravenous drugs may increase your risk of contracting pneumonia, as well as other infectious diseases.
Two types of vaccines can be particularly helpful at protecting you against developing pneumonia:
Influenza vaccine is given every Fall. It protects you against the types of influenza that are predicted to be in your community that coming winter. You should get the flu shot yearly because having influenza puts you at a high risk of developing pneumonia.
Pneumococcal vaccine is usually needed only once in a lifetime. However, people with a weakened immune system or certain chronic illnesses may later need a booster shot. The vaccine protects you against the pneumonia caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae .
People with chronic medical conditions, or who have no spleen, are particularly encouraged to take advantage of these vaccinations.
American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lungusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=dvLUK9O0E&b=22542 . Accessed July 17, 2008.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/ . Accessed July 17, 2008.
Primary Care Medicine . 4th ed. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2000.
Last reviewed July 2008 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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