Wash hands often to prevent spread of pneumonia

August 18, 2003|by Christine L. Moats

Prevention is the best treatment for pneumonia. To protect your body from developing pneumonia, get plenty of rest, eat a balanced diet, and practice good hygiene. It is also important to exercise. According to Cheryl Stouffer, pneumonia care specialist at Washington County Hospital, regular exercise increases resistance to respiratory infections.

Vaccines also are available to protect against influenzal and pneumococcal pneumonia. Because pneumonia is a common complication of influenza, or the flu, getting a flu shot every fall helps to prevent pneumonia.

"Believe it or not, frequent hand washing is also pneumonia prevention," Stouffer says. "Fingers are the most incriminated source of transmission."

Germs most commonly enter the body through mucous membranes in the eye and nose.

Flu vaccines are recommended for adults and children with chronic cardiovascular or pulmonary system disorders. Otherwise healthy individuals who are older than 65 are urged to get the shot. Adults and children with chronic metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, kidney dysfunction, anemia or asthma, are advised to receive the vaccine.


The pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for adults with chronic illness, especially cardiovascular and pulmonary disorders. Healthy people who are older than 65 also are advised to receive the vaccination. Children 2 and older with chronic illnesses such as sickle cell anemia, kidney disease or any other condition associated with immunosuppression should be immunized. People in nursing homes or chronic care facilities, and those recovering from severe illness, should ask for the shot.

Consult your physician to see if you are at risk for developing pneumonia. Vaccinations can prevent pneumonia and save lives.

- Sources: (American Lung Association) and "Pathophysiology: Concepts of Altered Health States," Carol Mattson Porth and J.B. Lippencott Company

Christine L. Moats is a wellness coordinator at Washington County Hospital.

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