Taking Another Shot: Getting Vaccinated Against Pneumonia

Taking Another Shot: Getting Vaccinated Against Pneumonia
In my previous column, I reminded you to get a flu shot before the end of October. I also shared some advice to prevent exposure to the virus. In this column, I'd like to discuss another important reason to avoid catching the flu: It is a common cause of pneumonia. According to the American Lung Association, in addition to the flu, other viruses, fungi, and bacteria can also cause pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which one or both lungs become inflamed. The air sacs in the lungs may fill with fluid or pus, causing shortness of breath, a productive cough, and chest pains when breathing or coughing. Other symptoms are similar to those of a cold virus or the flu and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, and chills. A lower than normal body temperature can be a symptom in adults 65 and over and in those with weakened immune systems. A study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis patients are at a higher risk for developing pneumococcal pneumonia than the general population. This lung infection, which is the most common serious form of pneumococcal disease, is caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacterium. The study found that the number of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients who developed pneumonia was almost double that of non-IBD patients. Ulcerative colitis patients were one and a half times as likely as non-IBD patients to contract the infection, while Crohn’s patients were more than twice as likely. Researchers also examined IBD treatment types and the risk of pneumonia in those with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Patients taking corticosteroids showed the greatest increased risk, and those on an aminosalicylate or a proton pump inhibitor also had a higher risk. The possi
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