In 2009, a diverse group of committed doctors, advocates, academics, UN officials and business people came together to change the way the world responded to pneumonia, the “forgotten killer of children”. When they launched the first World Pneumonia Day in November, pneumonia was killing 1.2 million children each year.
Successes over the years
Much has changed in the decade since. In 2013, WHO and UNICEF released the Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea,which set a target of less than three child pneumonia deaths per 1,000 live births in every country by 2025.
In 2013, the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) released the first Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report and in 2015, the rapidly growing Pneumonia Innovations Network hosted the Pneumonia Innovations Summit.
In 2017, the Every Breath Counts Coalition was also launched.
Let us learn a few things about this infection.
What is Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs. Bacteria, viruses, and fungi cause it.The infection causes inflammation in the air sacs in your lungs, which are called alveoli. The alveoli fill with fluid or pus, making it difficult to breathe.
Myths about Pneumonia
- Pneumonia is just really a bad cold
- It doesn’t affect healthy people
- It is not preventable
- Pneumonia only happens in cold places or seasons
Is Pneumonia contagious?
The germs that cause pneumonia are contagious. This means they can spread from person to person. Both viral and bacterial pneumonia can spread to others through inhalation of airborne droplets from a sneeze or cough. You can also get these types of pneumonia by coming into contact with surfaces or objects that are contaminated with pneumonia-causing bacteria or viruses.
You can contract fungal pneumonia from the environment. However, it doesn’t spread from person to person.
Symptoms of Pneumonia
Pneumonia symptoms can be mild to life-threatening. They can include:
- coughing that may produce phlegms
- sweating or chills
- shortness of breath that happens while doing normal activities or even while resting
- chest pain that’s worse when you breathe or cough
- feelings of tiredness or fatigue
- loss of appetite
- nausea or vomiting
Other symptoms can vary according to age and general health:
- Children under 5 years old may have fast breathing or wheezing.
- Infants may appear to have no symptoms, but sometimes they may vomit, lack energy, or have trouble drinking or eating.
- Older people may have milder symptoms. They can also exhibit confusion or a lower than normal body temperature.
How is this infection cured?
The first thing to do is to visit the hospital. Your doctor may prescribe medication depending on the type of pneumonia; it could be bacterial or viral.
The doctor may also prescribe over the counter (OTC) medication to relieve your pain and fever, as needed.
The first or most important preventive measure is vaccines. So get your child or yourself vaccinated to avoid this infection.
- If you smoke, try to quit. Smoking makes you more susceptible to respiratory infections, especially pneumonia.
- Regularly wash your hands with soap and water.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes. Promptly dispose used tissues.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle to strengthen your immune system. Get enough rest, eat a healthy diet, and get regular exercise.
Take care of yourself today as we celebrate World Pneumonia Day.