FACTS: Pneumonia is a lung infection in which the small, air-exchanging sacs of the lungs (called alveoli) become inflamed and filled with fluid. It can come on suddenly and in serious cases it can take your breath away.
There are a number of causes of pneumonia, ranging from viruses to fungi to parasites to physical injury though being caught in the rain without your coat is not among them. However, the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia infection is Streptococcus pneumoniae.
As the ringleader of a gang of more than 80 Pneumococcus bacteria, Streptococcus pneumoniae is such a common cause of pneumonia that a pneumonia vaccine has been developed to keep it (and 23 other of the worst kinds of Pneumococcus bacteria) at bay.
The vaccine is recommended for those most susceptible to pneumonia infection, such as the elderly and those with respiratory diseases, weakened immune systems, or chronic illnesses.
In addition, because pneumonia often occurs as a complication of influenza infection (or the flu), flu shots are also recommended for those at risk for pneumonia. However, unlike flu shots, one dose of the pneumonia vaccine provides long-term protection against the disease, though a follow-up dose is recommended in certain cases.
If you?re at risk for pneumonia, don?t hold your breath. Take precautions, and breathe a sigh of relief