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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL



Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. It can affect any age group but is most common among young children and people older than 65 years and people with underlying medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes, or chronic lung disease.



Pneumonia can be caused by a variety of micro-organisms, primarily bacteria, and less commonly by viruses and fungi(causing atypical pneumonia). The most common bacterial cause of pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae. Others include Haemophilus influenza and Moraxella catarrhalis.

Atypical pneumonia is caused due to viruses and fungi and generally present with subacute symptoms and even subtler pulmonary findings. Fungi involved include Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydophila pneumoniae whereas the viruses involved include Influenza A and B, Rhinovirus, Respiratory syncytial virus, Adenovirus 4, and 7, Middle eastern respiratory syndrome and most recently CoVID-19 causing coronavirus.



  1. Age>65 years

  2. Age<5 years

  3. Smoking

  4. Malnourishment

  5. Underlying lung disease like cystic fibrosis, asthma

  6. Underlying medical problems like diabetes, heart disease

  7. Weak immune system due to HIV, chemotherapy

  8. Recent upper respiratory tract infection


Once the treatment is initiated for pneumonia most people begin to improve after 3-5 days of antibiotic treatment. Improvement is defined on the subjective feeling of patients feeling better or having fewer symptoms, such as cough and fever. Fatigue and a persistent but mild cough can last for a month or longer. People may be able to resume light work as early as a week’s time in case of in-home treatment.

Adequate rest, hydration, compliance of an antibiotic course, and regular follow-up visits to the health care provider are necessary.



Complications can develop in some people, especially high-risk groups. Complications can be related to pneumonia itself or the drugs for its treatment and can sometimes develop even post-recovery. It includes-

  1. Bacteremia and septic shock

  2. Lung abscesses

  3. Pleural effusion, empyema

  4. Respiratory failure

  5. Kidney failure

  6. Heart failure


Healthy habits, which keep the immunity strong may reduce the risk of contracting pneumonia. This includes

  1. Smoking avoidance

  2. Avoidance of alcohol

  3. Frequent hand washing with the complete six steps

  4. Alternatively, usage of alcohol-based hand sanitizer when you can’t wash your hands.

  5. Avoid exposure to infected people

  6. Adequate rest

  7. Adequate hydration

  8. A healthy diet with fruits, fibers, and lean protein.

  9. Teaching to sneeze or cough into the elbow to reduce the spread of germs to others.

  10. Supplements in the form of Vitamin C, Zinc to improve the immune system

  11. Anti-inflammatory supplements like nano-curcumin(Haldi)

Preventive tips for avoiding postoperative pneumonia include

  1. Deep breathing exercises (intensive spirometer) from postoperative day 1 of surgery.

  2. Regular hand washing and hygiene

  3. Oral hygiene using chlorhexidine

  4. Increased sitting and walking time


The most important point post-recovery of pneumonia is the prevention of its recurrence. Vaccines go a major way in the path for achieving so. Getting the pneumonia vaccine or the “flu shot” greatly reduces the risk of getting pneumonia but mind you it does not completely eliminate its chance of occurring, though a milder form of the disease may be seen. Therefore preventive measures need to be maintained even post-vaccination.

There are primarily two vaccines that provide protection from pneumococcal disease, the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine(PCV13) and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine(PPSV23)

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine protects against 13 kinds of bacteria. PCV13 is part of standard vaccination given to babies from when they are 6 weeks old. Given at an interval of 4 weeks thrice till 14 weeks followed by a final booster dose given at 18 weeks. In adults aged 65 years and older PCV13 is given as a one-time injection. People of any age group who have risk factors such as a weak immune system should get this vaccine.

The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is a one-dose vaccine that protects against 23 kinds of bacteria. Recommended for adults more than 65 years who have already received the PCV13 vaccine. The gap between the two vaccines should be preferably one year.

However, the vaccine should be avoided in-

  1. People allergic to the vaccine or its component

  2. Pregnant women

  3. People with a severe cold, flu

Some common side effects of the vaccines include-

  1. Redness or swelling at the injection site

  2. Muscle aches

  3. Fever

  4. Chills

common side effects of the vaccines


Pneumonia is a potentially serious complication of the respiratory tract which is caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Children below 2 years of age and adults above 65 years are recommended to get the pneumonia vaccine. Elderly and other high-risk age groups should also maintain healthy habits and good hygiene to reduce the risk of getting pneumonia.

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