Categories
Heath and Medicine Writing

Why Pneumonia Deserves Respect

To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. Buddha

Pneumonia, an inflammation of the lungs (air sacs), is one of the most disrespected illnesses around. It is a baneful monster of a disease that is the leading single cause of death in children worldwide. 156 million new cases every year with 9% needing hospitalization. 50K annual deaths in the US. Most likely to die: children in third world countries. The truth is any one of us could get it any time. Arm yourself with the facts so you don’t become a statistic. Here’s an excerpt from a recent phone interview I did with Streptococcus Pneumoniae, a bacteria often involved.

KD: Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with me. It’s been a good 25 years since we first met. Remember, you laid me up for over 3 months?  I’m willing to put that aside for the sake of my readers health. Can you tell us about yourself?

Strept: Thank you Ms. Davis for having me. Sorry for the trouble back in the 80’s, just doing my job. And let me clarify for the audience, I am not the sole culprit behind all the pneumonia infections.  50% belong to me and my partner H. Flu. The rest can be credited to various fungi, virus, and other well known bacteria: Staph Aureus, Klebs Pneumo, and Myco Plasma.

KD: How do you do it? How can such a tiny organism like yourself cause such catastrophic results?

Strept:  It’s complicated. But, it boils down to good genes. Watch this 3 minute video for an easy explanation: The best way to avoid me? Prevention.

KD: A pneumonia vaccine is recommended for those 65+, smokers, or those with a chronic illness.  Does that really prevent you from attacking them?

Strept: Most of the time, but I might still cause them a milder illness.

KD: Do antibiotics work?

Strept: Yes, but I am resistant to some. I have the capability to adapt. The sooner the treatment is started, the better the outcome for the patient.

KD: How will someone know they are infected with you?

Strept: They become ill quickly: Fever, shaking chills, sweating, productive cough tinged with blood or shades of green, fast heart beat, headache, no appetite, malaise, shortness of breath. The old often get confused, may fall. People think they have the flu, and don’t bother going to their doctor.

KD: How can we stop you?

Strept: Nothing is guaranteed, but you can try keep your body defenses strong. It’s the weak that can’t put up the fight. Don’t smoke, wash hands, eat well, breastfeed newborns, get all recommended immunizations, and if you think I might be making you sick, get to your PCP (Primary Care Provider) quickly.

 

By Kathy

I am a Nurse Practitioner from Rochester, NY presently working in both the inpatient and outpatient hospital psychiatric settings.