Today the global health community recognises the World Pneumonia Day and despite the renewed global attention and its dramatic toll, pneumonia continues to be one of the world's least understood conditions. Recently, legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar has been hospitalised following a bout of pneumonia. Former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who breathed his last in August 2018, also suffered from pneumonia. So why does pneumonia often strike older adults? We give you a low-down on the most probable reasons that puts elders at a risk of this deadly lung disease.
A Compromised Immunity
Immunity declines with age so it is not uncommon for a person to suffer from pneumonia after 60. This is often because of the fact that the natural defences against the infection reduce with age. What Is Pneumococcal Vaccine And Why India Needs It For Equitable Immunisation?
Inability to Cough Strongly
Seniors who cannot cough very effectively after suffering a stroke or any other infection may be at particular risk for pneumonia. The ability to expel the source of an infection in the lungs can often prevent the onset of pneumonia. Coughing is the mechanism through which our bodies can remove these toxic elements so the inability to cough is a surprising risk factor for seniors.
Vulnerability to Cold and Flu
A contagious illness like a cold or flu is a common cause of pneumonia in seniors. Essentially, any underlying issue that affects the lungs can bring about an infection that causes inflammation or fluid build-up in the lungs. This means that any lung infection can be the potential cause of pneumonia. Mold spores at home can also put seniors at risk of a lung infection. Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of This Deadly-But-Preventable Lung Disease.
Increased Risk of Severe Pneumonia
Pneumonia can either be mild or severe and in seniors, the infection tends to fall on the severe end of the spectrum. People suffering from mild pneumonia generally feel only slightly under the weather. Severe pneumonia can be dangerous enough to warrant emergency medical treatment and those who suffer from it may require oxygen therapy to make up for decreased lung capacity. Delhi Air Pollution: How to Reduce Further Lung Damage and Cancer Risk Due to Toxic Air.
While we have all heard the warning to wear warm clothes when it's cold outside or we will risk catching pneumonia, the fact is, air temperature actually has little impact on the ability of pneumonia-causing bacteria to spread from one person to the next. Pneumonia is also prevalent in places where people live in crowded places and there is indoor air pollution due to cooking fires. So when you thrive together in close quarters, pneumonia-causing bacteria can easily spread from person to person. The elders in your house should avoid close contact from those who are at risk.