We live in an age of seemingly endless information that is all available to us at the press of a button. However, when it comes to our health, it seems that most of us know surprisingly little. So with education and a little entertainment in the forefront, allow us to present to you some facts about pneumonia that you likely didn’t know.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lung – The lungs fill with fluid and make breathing difficult. Pneumonia disproportionately affects the young, the elderly, and the immune-compromised. It preys on weakness and vulnerability.
Pneumonia is the world’s leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age, accounting for 15% of all deaths of children under 5 years old – There are 120 million episodes of pneumonia per year in children under 5, over 10% of which (14 million) progress to severe episodes. There were an estimated 935,000 deaths from pneumonia in children under the age of five in 2013.
For US adults, pneumonia is the most common cause of hospital admissions other than women giving birth – About 1 million adults in the US are hospitalized with pneumonia every year, and about 50,000 die from this disease.
Pneumonia can be caused by lots of different types of microbes, and no single one is responsible for as many as 10% of pneumonia cases – For most pneumonia patients, the microbe causing the infection is never identified.
Antibiotic resistance is growing amongst the bacteria that cause pneumonia – This often arises from the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in and out of the hospital. New and more effective antibiotics are urgently needed.
Being on a ventilator raises especially high risk for serious pneumonia – Ventilator-associated pneumonia is more likely to be caused by antibiotic-resistant microbes and can require the highest antibiotic use in the critically ill population.
While successful pneumonia treatment often leads to full recovery, it can have long-term consequences – Children who survive pneumonia have increased risk for chronic lung diseases. Adults who survive pneumonia may have worsened exercise ability, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and quality of life for months or years.
Pneumonia is a huge burden on our healthcare systems – In the US, pneumonia was one of the top ten most expensive conditions seen during inpatient hospitalizations. In 2011, pneumonia had an aggregate cost of nearly $10.6 billion for 1.1 million hospital stays.
The death rate from pneumonia in the US has had little or no improvement since antibiotics became widespread more than half a century ago – We are not yet winning the battle against pneumonia