Pneumonia is a serious illness that can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi, and it can affect people of all ages. It's particularly common during the winter months, when the cold weather and low humidity can weaken the immune system and make people more susceptible to respiratory infections. (Also read: Covid to pneumonia; 8 common causes behind your persistent low-grade fever)

Here are some tips to help prevent pneumonia during the winter:

Get vaccinated: The best way to prevent pneumonia is to get vaccinated. There are several vaccines available in special populations like DM, COPD, people with low immunity requiring steroids for medical reasons and old age. Vaccine in such populations can protect against different types of pneumonia, including the pneumococcal vaccine and the flu vaccine.

Wash your hands frequently: Washing your hands frequently is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of respiratory infections, including pneumonia. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating and after using the bathroom.

Avoid close contact with sick people: If you're around someone who is sick, try to keep a distance of at least six feet to reduce the risk of respiratory infections. Avoid close contact with sick people, including shaking hands or hugging.

Stay warm and dry: Cold weather can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to respiratory infections. Stay warm and dry by wearing layers of clothing, covering your head and ears, and keeping your feet dry.

Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids can help thin mucus in the respiratory tract and make it easier to breathe. Aim for at least eight glasses of water per day, and consider drinking warm fluids, such as tea or broth, to help keep your airways moist.

Avoid smoking: Smoking damages the respiratory system and increases the risk of pneumonia. If you smoke, consider quitting to reduce your risk of pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses.

Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet can help support your immune system and reduce your risk of respiratory infections. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to help keep your body strong.

Use a humidifier: Low humidity can dry out the respiratory tract and make it more prone to infection. Consider using a humidifier in your home to keep the air moist and help prevent pneumonia.

If you're experiencing symptoms of pneumonia, such as cough, fever, difficulty breathing, or chest pain, it's important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics, and getting prompt treatment can help prevent complications.

(Fact-checked by Dr Vikrant Shah, Consulting physician, Intensivist and Infection Disease Specialist, Zen Multispeciality Hospital, Chembur)

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