untitledAs the winter months come rolling around all we can think about is the flu. However, the flu is not the only culprit that can make us sick during the holidays. Pneumonia can also sneak up on us during these cold weather months. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) in 2015 reports that over 544,000 people a year visit the emergency department with pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection that targets our lungs causing the tiny air sacs to fill up with fluid. This infection travels through the air allowing it to reach many citizens. Some common signs and symptoms of pneumonia to look for are:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • High fever
  • Pain when coughing
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Excessive sweating
  • Confusion in older adults

What can put us at risk for developing this lung infection is smoking, having recent illnesses, such as the flu, having a chronic lung disease, being under 5 years old or over 65 years old, or having a weakened immune system. Some ways to avoid this pesky infection is to wash your hands, quit smoking, and try to maintain good health by getting regular exercise a week and eating a balanced diet full of vegetables and fruits. Another huge preventive recommendation that one can do is getting vaccinated. There are two different pneumonia vaccinations, pneumovax 23 and prevnar 13. Children 6 weeks-5 years or anyone who has never been vaccinated with a pneumococcal vaccination can receive the prevnar 13 vaccine. After receiving that vaccination it is best that after a year they are revaccinated with the pneumovax 23. Besides using the pneumovax 23 a year after the prevnar shot, it is also suggested that any adult over 65 years of age should receive the pneumovax 23. The CDC (2016) reports that only 66.9% of adults over 65 have received the pneumococcal vaccine. So it is important during these next couple of months, as the weather is getting colder, to protect yourself from these infections so you can enjoy the holidays! If you or a family member has any of the signs and symptoms of pneumonia please seek out a health care provider.