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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

Walking Pneumonia

"Walking pneumonia" sounds like it could be a character in a sci-fi horror flick. Although this form of infectious pneumonia can make you miserable, it's actually the least scary kind of pneumonia. That's because it's a mild pneumonia and does not generally require hospitalization. In fact, you could have walking pneumonia and not even know it. Here is information about what causes this illness, how it spreads, and what you can do to avoid it.

Read the Walking Pneumonia article > >

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on March 24, 2014

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