12th November every year is marked as World Pneumonia Day by WHO (World Health Organization) since 2009. It raises awareness and propagates treatments to combat this childhood disease, which affects children under the age of 5 years.
What is Pneumonia?
It is a preventable and treatable disease which mostly affects children under the age of 5 years and people aged above 65 who have impaired immune system and difficulty in swallowing food and breathing. On a worldwide level, it leads in the number of children deaths, especially in the lower strata of society.
Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs caused by bacteria, virus or fungi, affecting one lung or both lungs in many cases. Bacteria or virus present in the nose, throat or mouth when enter the lungs, leads to this disease. Babies born prematurely, smokers or people with lung conditions such as bronchitis and asthma are more prone to the disease.
Pneumonia is spread through 2 ways:-
- Viral : it takes a couple of days to contract the disease
- Bacterial : this develops very quickly, even in a day
Shortness of breath, high fever and increased rate of breathing, cough containing blood or phlegm, pain in the chest, fever, muscle ache, headaches and cold are the common symptoms of pneumonia. In babies, chest congestion, uneven breathing and lethargy are symptoms to be watchful for. In many cases bluish or dark marks appear on lips, skin and nails which signify that the lungs isn’t able to supply proper oxygen in the body.
Babies, children and older adults should be treated in hospitals in case of pneumonia. It is also treatable at home with a doctor’s guidance. Antibodies, vaccines, medicines to relieve the pain and fever, oxygen therapy, physiotherapy are some of the ways to treat pneumonia
Nutrition and healthy food intake helps in prevention of pneumonia and protects children and adults over 65 by boosting their immunity. Keeping our lungs healthy is the best way of preventing pneumonia. Drinking a lot of water, including citrus fruits in our diet, increasing our intake of leafy green vegetables, having a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids and consumption of probiotic food items such as yakult or yoghurt, milk etc boosts the health of our lungs and reduces our chances of contracting pneumonia. Quitting smoking is also essential for the same.
Pneumonia is an absolutely avoidable disease which can be prevented and eliminated by taking proper care of our lungs by adhering to healthy food and lifestyle habits.