Each time you take a breath, the air is carried through your trachea, to your lungs, and down “branches” called bronchioles. Air sacs, called alveoli, are found at the end of the bronchioles. The alveoli allow oxygen to enter the bloodstream. These air sacs look like very tiny bunches of grapes, and your lungs have millions of them. If an emergency care physician at Good Samaritan Hospital diagnoses you with pneumonia , it means that an infection has inflamed these air sacs, causing them to fill with fluid or pus. Some people may only have mild symptoms of pneumonia, but for others, this infection may become life-threatening.
Your age can influence your risk of contracting pneumonia and suffering severe symptoms. Individuals who are age 65 or older are at a higher risk due to changes of the immune system associated with the aging process.
If your household includes a child age two or younger, that child is also at an increased risk of serious illness. At this young age, a child’s immune system is still immature.
Your environment can refer to your home, workplace and the community as a whole. You may be at a higher risk of pneumonia if you’re often exposed to toxic fumes, pollutants and chemicals.
Living in a dormitory, retirement home or long-term care community exposes you to all sorts of germs from many people. Similarly, people who work in hospitals, libraries, schools and daycare centers are exposed to plenty of germs that might cause pneumonia.
Your lifestyle habits
Some risk factors for contracting pneumonia are manageable with lifestyle modifications. To reduce your risk of pneumonia , your physician may recommend:
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting or abstaining from alcohol
- Improving your nutrition
Lifestyle changes aren’t always easy to make, but your doctor can provide the personalized guidance you need.
Your medical conditions
People with certain underlying medical conditions are at an elevated risk of pneumonia. Managing these medical issues with your doctor’s help may help reduce your risk. These health problems include:
- Suppressed immune system
- History of lung disease
- Problems swallowing or coughing
- Mobility impairment
- Heart failure
- Sickle cell disease
The emergency care team at Good Samaritan Hospital is here around the clock, every day of the year to take care of your family. Our highly trained healthcare providers in San Jose understand that a visit to the ER is stressful, which is why we go the extra mile to make your time with us as pleasant and hassle-free as possible. Our nurse referral line is available at (888) 724-2362.