What to Know About Pneumonia This Winter If You Have Asthma

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What to Know About Pneumonia This Winter If You Have Asthma

Every year, pneumonia causes more than a million hospitalizations in the United States and more than 50,000 deaths. While anyone can develop pneumonia, it tends to be more common among people with certain risk factors — including asthma.

Worse, like the flu, pneumonia infections are more common during the winter months, which means if you have asthma, you need to take extra precautions to keep your lungs and airways healthy.

For patients in Lakeland, Florida, Sergio B. Seoane, MD, offers patient-centered asthma management plans focused on optimizing respiratory health and reducing the risk of pneumonia and other lung diseases. In this post, learn about the link between asthma and pneumonia and what you can do to stay healthy.

The link between asthma and pneumonia

Asthma is a chronic lung condition associated with inflammation in your airways. People with asthma have increased mucus production, airway narrowing, and other symptoms that interfere with breathing.

Like asthma, pneumonia also affects your lungs and airways. Primarily caused by exposure to bacteria or viruses, pneumonia causes your lungs’ air sacs to fill up with fluid, interfering with your lungs’ ability to expand and take in air. Without treatment, difficulty breathing can lead to low levels of oxygen in your blood, affecting organ function and causing life-threatening complications. 

Over time, the damage done by asthma makes your lungs and airways more susceptible to diseases and infections, including pneumonia. In fact, older adults who have asthma are about six times more likely to develop pneumonia compared with healthy peers. Plus, if you have asthma, it can be harder for your immune system to fight off pneumonia infection, and the healing and recovery process can take more time.

Managing your risks

If you have asthma, one of the best ways to reduce your risk of pneumonia and improve your lung health overall is to work with our team to develop an asthma management plan that works for your symptoms and your lifestyle. That means using prescribed medications as directed, limiting your exposure to asthma triggers when possible, and having regular checkups to make sure you stay on track.

It’s also very important to have your annual flu shot. Flu is a common cause of pneumonia, and although the flu vaccine can’t prevent 100% of flu cases, it can prevent flu caused by the most common strains of the virus. Those strains change every year, which is why you need an annual flu vaccine.

In addition to your annual flu shot, you should consider getting the pneumonia vaccine. While this shot is normally available to people 60 and over without additional risk factors, people with risk factors for pneumonia — including asthma — can also be immunized. Ask our team if this vaccine is a good choice for your health and wellness needs.

Finally, practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently, disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home and work space, and limit exposure to sick people when possible. Schedule an office visit right away if your asthma flares up or if you have pneumonia symptoms, like shortness of breath, persistent cough, or chest pain when breathing. Fever can be another sign, although you may not have a fever in the initial stages.

Make lung health a priority

If you have asthma, even a common cold can spell big trouble. Pay close attention to asthma symptoms during the winter and all year round, and schedule a visit if you have any changes in your asthma symptoms or if you develop symptoms of any other type of respiratory illness. To learn more ways to reduce your risk of pneumonia, call 863-644-2204 or request an appointment online with Dr. Seoane today.