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November 12, 2019

Smokers at higher risk of pneumonia: expert


November 12, 2019

LAHORE:World Pneumonia Day is globally marked every year on November 12 (today) to promote awareness about this infectious disease.

On the occasion of World Pneumonia Day 2019, Dr Ashraf Ali Khan, Consultant Infectious Diseases and General Medicine Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Lahore (SKMCH&RC), while talking to the media said: “Pneumonia is a serious infection of the lungs which usually affects people with weakened local or systemic defenses. For example, there is a higher risk of pneumonia amongst smokers. The reason being that with the irritation associated with cigarette, the ciliary function is damaged and bacteria gain entry into the lungs more avidly. Similarly, children under the age of two, diabetics and people with certain immune disorders, asthma, COPD and adults over the age of 65 are at risk of getting pneumonia that may be severe and life-threatening.”

Talking about the symptoms and diagnosis of pneumonia, Dr Ashraf told the journalists: “Usually patients with pneumonia present with fever and cough. The cough may be dry or productive of sputum. It is important to try to find out if a person truly has pneumonia by doing a chest X-ray, which, in most cases, will identify the infection in the lungs as some form of unusual opacification. Coming from the community, the patients can have one of a variety of organisms causing pneumonia. It is up to the clinician, when they see these patients, either in the outpatient setting or in the Accident and Emergency dept (A&E) to decide what diagnostic studies to send immediately and then to prescribe antibiotic(s) based on the suspected bacterial cause. Diagnostic tests, besides a chest X-ray, helpful in reaching a correct diagnosis and hence the correct antibiotic treatment, include blood cultures, sputum culture and certain antigen/antibody tests for specific bacteria.”

He added: “Pneumonias are usually treated with 7 to 10 days therapy with antibiotics – the choice of which are highly specific and should only be prescribed by a physician in attendance of patients with symptoms of pneumonia. Some people with pneumonia will need to be admitted to hospital and even to the ICU if doctors making the diagnosis feel that their illness is severe enough.”

Talking about the facilities at Shaukat Khanum Hospital, Dr Ashraf informed the journalists: “We provide management of pneumonia in our cancer patients as well as all-comers. As far as prevention is concerned, we provide counselling through our psychology department regarding quitting smoking. Our clinicians also provide education to the patients about their risks. These include risks like cigarette smoking or exposure to other harmful pollutants. We also provide influenza and pneumonia vaccinations at SKMCH&RC. The influenza vaccine is an annual vaccine that helps prevent influenza. The flu often leads to pneumonia and worsening of heart/lung conditions that often lead to hospitalisation and could be life-threatening in the frail and immune-compromised individuals.”

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