People are being urged to be aware of the risk of pneumonia after experts warned of an expected spike in respiratory infections this fall and winter.
Colds and chest problems are already starting to rise – including reports of ‘super cold’ – after Covid lockdown restrictions and social distancing caused a huge decrease last year.
Well Pharmacy is urging pneumonia awareness after research found less than half said they thought they could spot symptoms of this serious condition.
Ifti Khan, Head of Pharmacy at Well Pharmacy, said: “It is important that people know the signs to look out for, as early diagnosis and treatment can often make a big difference.
“Pneumonia is inflammation of the tissues of one or both lungs. It is usually caused by a bacterial infection, but can also be caused by a virus, such as Covid and flu. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, fever, chills or sweats, chest pain, fatigue and a dry or mucous cough.”
Ifti Khan added: “Many people are unaware that there are widely available and effective vaccines to protect against pneumonia. These are not available on the NHS for everyone, but are worth doing privately if people are worried or feel vulnerable. A single dose can provide lifelong protection.
“Pneumonia can be a serious illness with long-lasting effects and can lead to other serious health issues like sepsis.”
Well Pharmacy research found that four in five people are not worried about being overinoculated and one in seven said they had suffered from pneumonia as a complication of Covid. Meanwhile, one in four men and one in three women felt their immune system had been weakened by the coronavirus.
Pneumonia can affect people of any age, but it is more common and can be more serious or even fatal in the very young, the elderly, or people with long-term health conditions, such as diabetes, chronic respiratory conditions, chronic heart disease, kidney disease or if you are severely immunocompromised.
Well Pharmacy has answered common questions about pneumonia:
Am I entitled to the free pneumonia vaccination?
Find out if you are eligible for a free pneumonia vaccination on the NHS website here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pneumococcal-vaccination/. Well Pharmacy does not currently offer free NHS pneumonia vaccines from our community pharmacies, but you can ask your GP to get one if you are eligible.
How do we catch it?
Pneumonia is normally caused by a bacterial infection. However, there are other types of pneumonia such as – viral pneumonia caused by a virus, such as Covid. Nosocomial pneumonia, which develops in the hospital during treatment for another condition. Fungal pneumonia which is very rare and mainly affects people with weakened immune systems or aspiration pneumonia caused by inhaling vomit, smoke or chemicals.
What is the treatement ?
Mild pneumonia can be treated at home with antibiotics, plenty of rest, and plenty of fluids. For more vulnerable people like the young, the elderly, or those with weakened immune systems, pneumonia can be serious and require treatment in hospital.
Should we isolate ourselves as with the Covid?
No. Most cases of pneumonia are caused by bacteria and are not transmitted from person to person. It is important to remember the good habits developed during the pandemic and to continue to wash your hands regularly, to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze with a tissue and to dispose of tissues immediately.
How fast does it light up?
Pneumonia can come on suddenly and can be quite difficult to diagnose as it has very similar characteristics to a cold.
How long does it last?
People should respond well to treatment and recover quickly, but you may experience coughing and shortness of breath for three to six months after pneumonia.
How does the pneumonia vaccine work?
The pneumonia vaccine is an effective way to protect against pneumonia. It is given as a single injection, usually in your upper arm. Both types of pneumonia vaccine help your body produce antibodies to protect you against the pneumococcal bacteria that cause pneumonia. This means you are less likely to get seriously ill if you come into contact with the bacteria.
Can you get the flu shot and the pneumonia shot at the same time?
Yes. It is safe to get the flu and pneumonia shots at the same appointment. Patients will be offered one vaccine in each arm. Having both vaccines will give patients the best protection against influenza and pneumonia this winter.
If you receive a blow, how long does it last?
Well Pharmacy offers two types of pneumonia vaccine.
· Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) – suitable for people aged two years and over who are not at increased risk of developing pneumonia. This is a single vaccine that will protect you for life.
· Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) – suitable for people aged 65 and over who are at higher risk of developing pneumonia, who may be eligible for free NHS pneumonia vaccination. This gives you protection for up to 5 years.
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