While there is no one surefire way to ensure you won’t contract pneumonia, there are several ways to help decrease your chances of getting it. Every precaution possible should be taken, since while most cases of pneumonia are fairly mild and do clear up within a few weeks, severe pneumonia and a weakened system are nothing to ignore.
What can you do to help prevent getting pneumonia?
Wash your hands frequently. It may sound obvious, but most of us neglect washing our hands enough simply because it can be inconvenient. If you are preparing or eating food, wash your hands before starting. Wash after using the bathroom, sneezing/blowing your nose, diapering a baby or shaking hands often at a social or public event.
Get a flu shot every year, especially if you are over 65 or under five. Many cases of pneumonia begin with a case of the flu, so avoiding the flu is one of the major keys to avoiding pneumonia, and a yearly shot is advised because the strains of flu combined to make the shot are different every year. There are different kinds of vaccines, so talk to your physician to see which one is right for you.
Don’t smoke. Smokers are at a higher risk for developing pneumonia because tobacco causes damage to the lungs and their ability to fight off infection or illness. So if you do smoke, quit. No one says it’s easy, but there are many different methods of quitting and it doesn’t matter which method you use – hypnosis, gum, patches, etc. – as long as you find the one that works and stick with it.
Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Part of catching pneumonia early or protecting against it means you being proactive in your approach to health. Make sure you get both enough sleep and enough exercise. A healthy diet that includes lots of vegetables and fruit is good for your health in general, and if you are in good physical condition, it is easier for the body to fight off the kinds of respiratory infections that are often the first step to developing pneumonia.
If you are being treated for HIV or cancer, ask your doctor about additional ways to protect yourself from pneumonia and other infections.