Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in young children around the world.
Although experts are still researching this condition, most people don’t know much about pneumonia, believing instead the many myths that persist about this dangerous respiratory illness.
This article serves to debunk four of the most dangerous myths surrounding pneumonia.
Myth 1: Pneumonia is really just a type of common cold
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs and the initial symptoms are similar to those of a common cold.
However, a common cold normally disappears in a week or two after mild symptoms – runny nose, sore throat, sneezing and coughing.
These same symptoms are detected in the early stages of pneumonia. However, if left untreated, pneumonia can lead to death.
According to research, pneumonia causes more than 50,000 deaths in adults and more than one million deaths in children globally every year.
Myth 2: Pneumonia only affects those who live in cold climates
Contracting pneumonia has a very weak connection with weather conditions. So far, there is no evidence to suggest that people living in a tropical environment have a lower risk of contracting this respiratory illness.
The fact is that people tend to stay indoors more than go outside in cold weather, and being indoors in the presence of many other people provides an ideal environment for the pneumonia-causing bacteria to develop and wreak havoc on the immune system.
This explains why the number of pneumonia cases registers a sudden rise during winter. This is ironic as tropical regions are actually more favourable for the development of the pneumonia bacteria.
Additionally, crowds, polluted environments, and poor nutrition in some tropical countries are the main triggers for developing pneumonia.
Myth 3: Pneumonia only affects those who are unhealthy
It is normal to think that only people whose immune systems are weakened or compromised suffer from severe symptoms and eventual death from pneumonia. However, anyone can be affected by this illness.
There are many cases in which patients with pneumonia are physically healthy. There are some who are even professional athletes.
Therefore, do not ignore the symptoms even though you think they are mild. It is important to seek medical help and have an early diagnosis for pneumonia.
Myth 4: Pneumonia cannot be prevented
A common misunderstanding is that this condition is treatable but not preventable. On the contrary, there are multiple ways to prevent this respiratory illness.
The best prevention is a combination of undergoing antibiotic treatments in the early stages, breastfeeding infants for the first six months of their lives, observing good nutrition as well as hygiene, and limiting exposure to smoke from cigarettes or indoor cook stoves and fires.
Moreover, safe and effective vaccines are also available to prevent deaths from pneumonia in both children and adults.
Now that you have this information in hand, you can make the necessary adjustments to your life to safeguard your health and those of your loved ones from a potentially deadly but preventable respiratory illness.
This article first appeared on Hello Doktor and was medically reviewed by the Hello Doktor Medical Panel. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.