What About Pneumonia?

A senior man is coughing while holding his chest.While most of us are armed with the flu vaccine, tissues and an over-the-counter cough medicine to protect and defend against cold and flu season, others may need to think about pneumonia. Pneumonia causes more than a million hospitalizations and over 50,000 deaths every year. This infection causes inflammation and fluid build-up in one or both lungs. Most healthy patients can recover in one to three weeks.

Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, viruses, mycoplasmas and infectious agents like fungi and various chemicals. Over one-third of cases are caused by viruses, with the flu virus being one of the common causes of viral pneumonia in adults. While the flu shot can reduce your risk of pneumonia, those who are at risk, should speak with their physician about a pneumonia vaccine.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the vaccine for infants and children under age 2, and all adults age 65 or older. However, there are others who have a higher risk of contracting pneumonia, including those who:

  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Had a recent viral respiratory infection
  • Suffer from chronic lung disease such as COPD
  • Live in a nursing facility
  • Have a weakened immune system

There are currently two recommended pneumonia vaccines. Speak with your physician about how both vaccines are effective in reducing the risk of contracting pneumonia.

BayCare is committed to the continuing and comprehensive care of you and your family. Our primary care offices are located throughout Tampa Bay, so you’re never far from the care you need. For more information or a physician referral, call 1-800-BayCare (1-800-229-2273) or find a doctor near you.