6 Effective Ways To Reduce Your Risk Of Pneumonia

Find Out How You Can Reduce Your Risk Of Pneumonia Effectively

As recently as 2020, it has been reported that pneumonia remains one of the principal causes of death amongst Malaysians1.

This brings us to the question: what exactly is pneumonia, and how does it affect us?

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that causes the air sacs in the lungs to become inflamed and fill up with fluid. Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi2.

The most common bacterial pneumonia is called pneumococcal pneumonia, caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae germ that normally lives in our upper respiratory tract3. This type of pneumonia is a potentially serious disease that shouldn’t be ignored, as it can disrupt your life for weeks, or even lead to hospitalisation4.

The bacteria that cause pneumococcal pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae, can also cause other infections, such as ear, sinus and bloodstream infections. These infections are also known as pneumococcal diseases5.

Photo credit: Gustavo Fring

What are some types of pneumococcal diseases?

Pneumococcal diseases can be categorised into non-invasive pneumococcal diseases and invasive pneumococcal diseases6.

Non-invasive pneumococcal diseases occur outside major organs or the blood, and can cause infections such as6:

     Otitis media, which results in the inflammation of the middle ear6.

     Acute bronchitis, an inflammation of the airways6.

     Sinusitis, an inflammation of the sinuses in a person’s skull6.

Invasive pneumococcal diseases are more serious than non-invasive pneumococcal diseases. They occur inside a major organ or in a person’s blood. These may include6:

     Bacteremia, or a bacterial infection of the blood6.

     Sepsis, a potentially life-threatening infection response by the body6.

     Meningitis, which is an inflammation of the meninges – the three membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord6.

     Infections such as osteomyelitis – an infection that affects bones – and septic arthritis, an infection in your joints6.

     Pneumonia, a serious lung disease which may require hospitalisation4,6.

Should you be experiencing any of these symptoms above for a prolonged period of time, speak to a medical professional today for assistance.

Who are at risk of getting pneumococcal disease?

Anyone can get pneumococcal disease, but some people are at increased risk7.

Adults aged 65 years or older are at greater risk for pneumococcal disease. However, adults of all ages are at increased risk for pneumococcal disease if:

      Sickle cell disease, no spleen, HIV infection, cancer, or another condition that weakens the immune system7.

      They have diabetes7.

      They suffer from chronic heart, lung, kidney, or liver disease7.

      They are alcoholics or smoke cigarettes7.

Photo credit: RODNAE Productions

What are some ways to prevent pneumonia?

There are a few ways to protect yourself from pneumonia8. These include:

1. Wash your hands frequently

Wash your hands frequently, especially after coughing or blowing your nose, going to the bathroom, and before eating or preparing food9. Washing your hands ensures you can avoid transferring germs into your respiratory system8.

2. Avoid smoking

When lung tissue is damaged by smoking, there is a higher risk of infection by the bacteria that cause pneumococcal pneumonia10. This is because tobacco damages your lungs’ ability to fight off infections. As such, smokers have been found to be at a higher risk of getting pneumonia9.

3. Maintain good and healthy habits

Good health habits such as a healthy diet, rest, and regular exercise, will help keep you from getting sick from viruses and respiratory illnesses9.

4. Keep an eye on your general health

Be sure to manage existing health conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and heart disease well. Since pneumonia often follows respiratory infections, you should also be aware of any symptoms that linger for more than a few days9.

5. Address environmental factors

Regularly breathing in dust, chemicals, air pollution, or toxic fumes can damage your lungs, which in turn will make your lungs more vulnerable to infection11. A way to lessen any potential negative effects of pollution includes air purifiers, which can help clean the air you breathe by filtering out fine particles12.

6. Get the pneumococcal vaccine to protect against pneumonia

Pneumococcal vaccines reduce your risk of getting pneumonia by protecting you against certain kinds of bacteria8. People from high-risk groups are strongly suggested to get these vaccinations, as they are more vulnerable to developing pneumonia8.

To learn more about the right immunisation options for you or your loved ones, reach out and speak to a healthcare professional today.


  1. Statistics on Causes of Death, Malaysia, 2021 | https://tinyurl.com/2p8j3p46 | Accessed on 28 Feb 2022
  2. Learn About Pneumonia | https://tinyurl.com/ujbzd8uy | Accessed on 28 Feb 2022
  3. What Causes Pneumonia? | https://tinyurl.com/2p9ye4vb | Accessed on 28 Feb 2022
  4. Pneumococcal Pneumonia | https://tinyurl.com/4uk2ur8s | Accessed on 28 Feb 2022
  5. Pneumococcal Disease | https://tinyurl.com/ycyknw9t | Accessed on 28 Feb 2022
  6. Pneumococcal disease: Causes, how it spreads, and symptoms | https://tinyurl.com/2p8v5vwp | Accessed on 28 Feb 2022
  7. Pneumococcal Disease: Risk Factors and Transmission | https://tinyurl.com/yc7sjnfk | Accessed on 28 Feb 2022
  8. How to Prevent Pneumonia | https://tinyurl.com/2p8fu23d | Accessed on 28 Feb 2022
  9. Preventing Pneumonia | https://tinyurl.com/2p8er75t | Accessed on 28 Feb 2022
  10. Am I At Risk? | https://tinyurl.com/26u45cks | Accessed on 28 Feb 2022
  11. Pneumonia - Walking Pneumonia - Treatment | https://tinyurl.com/ypnrw3yf | Accessed on 28 Feb 2022
  12. Can Air Purifiers Improve Your Lung and Heart Health? | https://tinyurl.com/2p8z87p6 | Accessed on 28 Feb 2022


The health information contained herein is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace discussions with a healthcare provider. All decisions regarding patient care must be made with a healthcare provider, considering the unique characteristics of the patient.

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