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Health > pneumonia >prevention


You usually don't "catch" pneumonia from someone else. Instead, you develop the disease because your immune system is temporarily weakened, often for no known reason. The following suggestions can help keep you healthy:

Get vaccinated. Because pneumonia can be a complication of the flu, getting a yearly flu shot is a good way to prevent pneumonia. In addition, get a vaccination against pneumococcal pneumonia at least once after age 65. Your doctor may recommend a pneumonia vaccine if you're younger but have a lung or cardiovascular disease, diabetes or sickle cell anemia, if your immune system is compromised or you've had your spleen removed for any reason. A vaccine known as Prevnar can also help protect young children against pneumonia. It's recommended for all children younger than age 2 and for children 2 years and older who are at particular risk of pneumococcal disease, such as those with an immune system deficiency, cancer, cardiovascular disease or sickle cell anemia. Side effects of the pneumococcal vaccine are generally minor and include mild soreness or swelling at the injection site.

Wash your hands. Your hands are in almost constant contact with germs that can cause pneumonia. These germs enter your body when you touch your eyes or rub your nose. Washing your hands thoroughly and often can help reduce your risk. When washing isn't possible, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, which can be more effective than soap and water in destroying the bacteria and viruses that cause disease. What's more, most hand sanitizers contain ingredients that keep your skin moist.

Don't smoke. Smoking damages your lungs' natural defenses against respiratory infections. Take care of yourself. Proper rest and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains along with moderate exercise can help keep your immune system strong.

Protect others from infection. If you have pneumonia, try to stay away from anyone with a compromised immune system. When that isn't possible, you can help protect others by wearing a face mask and always coughing into a tissue.

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