Pneumonia is an infection that inflames air sacs in one or both lungs, which may fill with fluid. According to the American Lung Association, anyone can get pneumonia. It’s commonly a complication of a respiratory infection—especially the flu—but there are more than 30 different causes of the illness. Older adults, children and people with chronic disease, including COPD and asthma, are at high risk for pneumonia.

Image/Howard the Duck
Image/Howard the Duck

In the Philippines, 57,809 pneumonia deaths were reported in 2016, nearly 10 percent of 582,183 registered deaths in 2016. This made pneumonia the 3rd top killer behind  ischemic heart disease and cancer.

The most common symptoms of pneumonia are: Cough (with some pneumonias you may cough up greenish or yellow mucus, or even bloody mucus), fever, which may be mild or high (as high as 105 degrees F), shaking and chills and shortness of breath, which may only occur when you climb stairs.

You may also experience sharp or stabbing chest pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or cough, headache, eExcessive sweating and clammy skin, loss of appetite, low energy, and fatigue and confusion, especially in older people.

A number of things can cause pneumonia to include bacteria, viruses and other infectious agents. Risk factors for pneumonia include age—younger than 5 and older than 65, cigarette smoking and recent viral respiratory infection—a cold, laryngitis, influenza, etc.

This is why physician Denky Shoji dela Rosa said, “It is important to emphasize that there are vaccinations, the flu vaccine which is given every year, pneumonia vaccines so adults would decrease their likelihood of contracting the infection.”

Other infectious diseases making the top 10 causes of death in the Philippines include tuberculosis #8 with 24,462 cases and chronic lower respiratory infections #9 with 24, 236 cases.