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Pneumonia: Reducing Your Risk

Getting pneumonia after surgery can be quite serious. According to the CDC, studies have suggested that pneumonia acquired in the hospital can be fatal as often as 33% of the time. So you need to make an effort to protect yourself.

  • Follow your doctor's instructions about not eating or drinking before surgery. Usually, your doctor will tell you not to eat or drink after midnight the night before surgery. You must follow that advice. If you're going under anesthesia and still have food in your stomach, fluid or vomit may back up and get into your lungs. This can lead to one type of pneumonia called aspiration pneumonia. Happily, just following your doctor's advice greatly reduces the risk.
  • Ask everyone -- family, friends, doctors, and nurses -- to wash their hands. Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria and some viruses. So you need to make sure that people who touch you aren't transmitting any nasty germs.
  • Ask when you can start moving around. Lying flat on your back for a long time can increase your risk of developing pneumonia. So find out when it's safe for you to start sitting up and walking around.
  • Do breathing exercises. Try taking 10-15 big, deep breaths each hour. You may also use an incentive spirometer to check your lung function.
  • Stop smoking. Quitting smoking has many health advantages, of course. But if you are unable to completely quit, stop for at least a week or two prior to surgery. Giving your lungs a break will make them stronger and lower your risk of pneumonia.

Recommended Related to Lung Disease/Respiratory Problems

Lung Diseases Overview

Lung diseases are some of the most common medical conditions in the world. Tens of millions of people suffer from lung disease in the U.S. Smoking, infections, and genetics are responsible for most lung diseases. The lungs are part of a complex apparatus, expanding and relaxing thousands of times each day to bring in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Lung disease can result from problems in any part of this system.

Read the Lung Diseases Overview article > >

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on March 24, 2014
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