Know the myths about pneumonia, the world’s largest killer of young children.
Pneumonia is the leading killer of young children in the world but it has not received as much attention as it deserves in view of this fact. Moreover, it still remains one of the least understood diseases in the world despite the rising death toll. 12th of November has been recognised as the World Pneumonia Day, and on that occasion in the year 2011, few popular myths about pneumonia were sought to be debunked.
MYTH#1: Pneumonia is only a severe form of cold
Pneumonia is actually a lung infection for which antibiotics and hospitalisation is needed. It is much more than the common cold that causes sore throat, clogged nose and, sneezes and coughs for a few days. People can get confused by the similarity of symptoms between a cold and pneumonia.
The difference is that a patient suffering from cold has his body restored to normalcy by natural processes of the immune system but that is not the case with pneumonia. If pneumonia is not treated early enough, it can lead to death. Unlike some other epidemics, pneumonia is curable with several proven interventions.
MYTH#2: Pneumonia affects mostly the aged
It is generally believed that since pneumonia affects people with a weak immune system, the old people are at the greatest risk. Statistics of the worldwide death toll from the disease reveal an altogether different picture. Around 18 percent of annual deaths worldwide have been attributed to this disease. This is because their immune system is yet to develop fully and the pneumonia infection proves fatal. Chronic illness, lack of nutrition or any disease can weaken the immune system, after which pneumonia can cause death. As it is evident from the experience of rich countries, when a child is cared for properly, pneumonia deaths come down significantly.
MYTH#3: Pneumonia occurs only in cold season or cold climates
Pneumonia has got nothing to do with cold season and most of the cases of the infection are found in countries with a tropical weather. It may be spreading more in winter season because people remain huddled together allowing for infection to spread. That is why it is more prevalent in tropical countries as other than lack of nutrition, people also live in confined places in these countries.
MYTH#4: Healthy people cannot catch pneumonia
Although it is true that people with a weakened immune system are at the maximum risk of contracting this disease, there have been enough cases of even healthy people getting infected. So, if your symptoms suggest that it is pneumonia, do not avoid getting yourself diagnosed for prompt treatment. Diagnosis followed by treatment with antibiotics should start as early as possible.
MYTH#5: Pneumonia can only be treated, not prevented
You can prevent pneumonia by a number of ways. Breastfeeding infants exclusively for six months, providing proper nutrition, good hygiene, and limiting exposure to smoke from indoor stoves or cigarettes helps to prevent pneumonia. Moreover, some safe and effective vaccines have also been developed for preventing the pneumonia infection.
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