Pneumonia: What You Need to Know About It

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  • Risk factors for pneumonia include age, weakened immune system, environmental pollutants and irritants, lifestyle choices, and pre-existing conditions.
  • Low-intensity exercises like Tai Chi can help treat the disease.
  • Rest is vital to aid with recovery and prevent infecting others.
  • Good hydration and nutritious eating are also important.
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation programs and follow-up care should be considered for further treatment or assessment.

Pneumonia is a severe respiratory infection that can strike people of all ages. It is a leading cause of death worldwide and claims millions of lives every year. Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi that inflame the lungs’ air sacs or alveoli. Once infected, it can spread to other body parts, causing severe complications if left untreated. Here’s what you need to know about this disease and how to deal with and prevent it.

Risk Factors

The bacteria known as Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia. However, there are also other risk factors for this disease. Here are some of them:


Age is an important risk factor for pneumonia. Infants and young children below two and adults above 65 are most likely to develop pneumonia. Children have weaker immune systems that make them more susceptible to infections, while the elderly’s weakened immune system also increases their risk of pneumonia. Moreover, these age groups also have underdeveloped or age-related complications of the respiratory and immune systems.

Pneumonia in woman

Weakened Immune System

A compromised immune system also increases the risk of pneumonia. People with HIV, cancer, or those undergoing chemotherapy, as well as people with other chronic diseases such as heart and lung disease, are more vulnerable to this condition. For this reason, it’s important to maintain overall good health through a healthy diet, exercise, avoiding smoking and alcohol, and taking proper care of underlying health issues.

Environmental Factors

Environmental pollutants and irritants like smoke, toxins, and chemicals may cause lung damage and increase the risk of infections like pneumonia. High air pollution and poor air quality are other environmental factors that may trigger respiratory infections. Avoiding such environments or protecting oneself through masks or respirators reduces the risk of infections.

Lifestyle Choices

Lifestyle choices such as smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, and drug abuse weaken the immune system and increase the risk of pneumonia. Quitting smoking and lowering alcohol consumption improve overall health and help prevent infections.

Pre-existing Conditions

Pre-existing conditions like asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and heart diseases increase the risk of pneumonia. These conditions affect the respiratory system and weaken the immune system. Regular check-ups, taking medications, and managing pre-existing chronic diseases would help control respiratory symptoms and prevent infections.

Dealing With Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a highly treatable disease. Here are ways you can deal with and prevent it.

Low-Intensity Exercises

People with pneumonia aren’t allowed to do exercises while recovering. However, exercises that help with breathing can certainly help. Tai Chi is a known martial art that can help deal with this disease. This martial art teaches deep breathing and relaxation techniques to improve the overall health of your lungs. You can check some online Tai Chi videos to help you get started. These videos should cover the basics of Tai Chi and how to do them properly.

Resting woman on comfy bed


Rest is crucial when dealing with pneumonia. The body needs the energy to fight off the infection, so it is necessary to allow for adequate sleep and rest. Take time off work, reduce your activity levels, and prioritize sleep if possible. Also, to minimize the risk of infecting others, stay indoors and avoid close contact, especially during the first week of illness.

Hydrate and Eat Nutritious Foods

It is important to rehydrate and eat nutritious foods when dealing with pneumonia. Drinking fluids can help loosen the mucus that causes coughing and makes breathing difficult. Try to incorporate healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, which contain vitamins and minerals that can help boost your immune system. Avoid foods and drinks that cause dehydration, such as caffeine or alcohol.

Consider Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programs

Rehab programs can help treat changes in the body, such as shortness of breath and reduced exercise performance, that may have occurred due to pneumonia. They usually involve services like exercise, counseling, education, and nutrition. These programs aim to maximize function and improve the quality of life.

Follow-Up Care

After recovering from pneumonia, following up with a healthcare provider to monitor the progress and ensure no complications arise is essential. Doctors may recommend getting X-rays or blood tests to ensure no remaining signs of pneumonia. Be sure to attend these appointments and follow all care instructions closely.

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