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Pneumonia: symptoms, treatment and prevention

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Pneumonia: symptoms, treatment and prevention
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Pneumonia is a serious respiratory infection which affects the tissue of one of the two lungs.  Often caused by bacteria, virus or fungus, pneumonia is responsible for 15% of child deaths under 5 years old world wide.  However smoking and air pollution can also increase the risk of contracting pneumonia. 

Pneumonia:  Symptoms

Pneumonia can present different symptoms depending on the health of the person and the type of germ that caused the infection:

  • High fever, shivering,
  • Chronic dry cough (more than a week),
  • Shortage of breath with a limited amount of effort,
  • Chest pain on one side when coughing or breathing,
  • More rarely, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

If you are worried about one or several of these symptoms you should then consult your doctor who will be able to give you a first diagnosis.  If they are unsure, your doctor will send you to a pneumologist.

What treatments are available?

Once pneumonia has been diagnosed by a doctor, it is treated with antibiotic medication which are able to eliminate the germ involved (bacteria, virus, fungus).  Different types of antibiotics can be used depending on the germ that caused the infection, the health of the person and the severity of the pneumonia.  The doctor can also prescribe paracetamol to help cure some symptoms like a fever.

How do you prevent pneumonia?

The WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends parents to vaccinate their children against meningitis bacteria, pneumococcus, measles and whooping cough so as to reduce the risk of pneumonia and respiratory illness in children.

Smoking is another factor so it is advisable that adults and children of age stop this habit.  People can also strengthen there immune system and protect themselves from infectious illnesses by protecting themselves from air pollution both inside and out, adopting a balanced diet and doing regular exercise.

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