It’s that time of year when the flu makes its most unwelcome rounds through our population and, for a certain segment, pneumonia becomes more of a threat.
If you want to safeguard your health this year by taking steps to prevent the flu and pneumonia, there are a few points Dr. Michael Bazel and our team at Michael Bazel, M.D., would like you to consider.
Here’s a look at who should be concerned about the flu turning into pneumonia and the steps you should take to protect yourself.
The road to pneumonia
Each year in the United States, one million people seek hospital care for pneumonia and 50,000 people die of the infection. To give you an idea about just how common pneumonia is, it’s the top reason for hospitalization in the US outside of childbirth.
One of the leading causes of pneumonia, which is an infection in your lungs, is complications from respiratory infections, such as the common cold and flu. When an infection develops in your upper respiratory tract, it can leave your lower respiratory system more vulnerable to infection.
Certain segments of the population are more at risk for developing pneumonia, including:
- Children under the age of two
- Older populations
- People with lung issues, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma
- People who are hospitalized
- People with diabetes
The flu or a cold are two roads to pneumonia, but the infection can also be caused by fungi or bacteria.
Prevention through vaccination
The best way to prevent the flu from becoming pneumonia is to vaccinate yourself against the first. For decades, we’ve been able to fight off the flu with vaccinations that provide 40%-60% protection when the vaccine matches the circulating virus.
Flu vaccines are safe for most people over the age of six months and up to the most elderly. In fact, we offer special flu vaccines for people 65 years of age and older.
We also recommend vaccinating against pneumonia for some of our patients, namely children under the age of two and adults over the age of 65. There are many exceptions to these rules of thumb, such as people with certain pre-existing conditions, but we’re happy to help you figure out whether you should receive the pneumonia vaccine.
Vaccination against these infections is best in September and October, but it’s not too late to protect yourself.
Preventing pneumonia when you have the flu
If you develop the flu and you’re worried about pneumonia, it’s important to come see us so we can provide you with care that works toward preventing complications. We monitor your health while you navigate your cold or flu to catch any potential problems when it comes to your lungs.
If you want to learn more about preventing the flu and pneumonia, call one of our conveniently located offices in the greater Los Angeles area in Panorama City, Bell, and Valley Village, California. For less immediate issues, you can also request an appointment online.