Maintaining the health of your respiratory system is extremely important. After all, the different organs that are in this system facilitate the entry and exit of oxygen and carbon dioxide, which are essential to life and day-to-day function.1 This is why acute respiratory infections like pneumonia should not be taken lightly. Anyone from any age group can be affected with pneumonia, but young children below 2 years old and senior citizens over 65 years old are most susceptible to this infection.2
Statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that in 2016 (the last year for which statistics are available), a combined total of 51,537 people died from pneumonia and influenza in the U.S.3 Together, these two diseases rank eighth in the leading causes of death in the U.S., as they have for more than a decade.
It’s important to note that the CDC no longer separates flu and pneumonia deaths in the U.S.; however, in 2014 — the last year the numbers were separated — of the 55,227 flu and pneumonia deaths reported, 50,622 were due to pneumonia alone.4
Worldwide, pneumonia is the leading cause of death in children under age 5. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 880,000 children died from pneumonia in 2016, most of them under age 2.5 The World Health Organization says that more than 99 percent of all pneumonia deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, with more than half of those deaths in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.6
Roughly 1 million American adults are hospitalized annually because of pneumonia, according to the American Thoracic Society. This infection is the most common reason why American children are admitted to hospitals, while for adults, it’s one of the two main causes of hospitalization, apart from childbirth.7
An important fact that you should know about pneumonia is that not all cases of this infection are identical, since there are various infection-causing agents, including different bacteria strains, viruses and fungi that can cause it.8
If your infection is not treated immediately, your condition not only might worsen, but additional complications and coinfections could occur; in the severest cases, you could even die. However, be forewarned that the conventional treatment protocols can be just as threatening as the infection itself.