Asthma, Pneumonia, and Vaccines

Asthma and Pneumonia are very common in the United States, affecting over 6 million people every year. They both can hinder your breathing, often require lab tests, and can become difficult to live with. However, these illnesses affect the body differently, bringing with them different arrays of symptoms; but can both be effectively treated.

Pneumonia, specifically, can be fought against with certain vaccinations that are preventative of infections in the lungs. It is important to know the differences of these afflictions, as well as steps you can take in the right direction of treatment. You may literally breathe easier by knowing how asthma, pneumonia, and vaccines work.


Asthma is an often-chronic condition affecting the airways of the lungs. Patients with this condition experience narrowed airways, which makes it increasingly hard to breath. Typically, physical exertion is a major trigger for those with asthma. Certain reactions to more severe allergies can also trigger the closure of these breathable airways.

Stronger bouts can lead to the increase in symptoms, and oftentimes are very anxiety-inducing. These more severe bronchospasms, or asthma attacks, occur when swollen airways and the production of thicker mucous make it feel almost impossible to breathe. It is common for people to understandably panic in these situations, which only makes it progressively more difficult to breathe.

Symptoms of an asthma attack include:

  • Loss of breath and rapid breathing
  • Severe coughing and wheezing
  • Pressure in the chest
  • Trouble talking
  • Panic

While physical activity and allergies are common culprits of asthma, there are a multitude of circumstances out there that can prove to be triggers. Cold air, air pollutants (like smoke), specific medications, and emotional stress or anxiety can all induce an attack.

If you think you may be suffering from asthma, it is recommended that you schedule an appointment with a pulmonologist to discuss treatment options. It is not curable; however many times an oral medication or inhaler is prescribed to alleviate symptoms. It is not uncommon for your condition to change over time, so it is important to pay close attention to your symptoms.


While both asthma and pneumonia cause shortness of breath, pneumonia is in fact a completely different illness. It is an infection of the lungs and varies in intensity from a two-week sickness (walking pneumonia) to a required trip to the hospital. When your lungs become infected, air sacs located inside become inflamed and risk filling with fluid.

Pneumonia is caused when you breathe in certain bacteria, germs, chemicals, or fungi. Your age and general health play important roles in how well you fight off the infection but, typically, it can be treated from home and will only keep you out of action for a couple of weeks.

Common symptoms of Pneumonia are:

  • Coughing (often with yellow or green mucous)
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Clammy skin
  • Chest pain

While anyone can get pneumonia, children, older adults, and individuals with COPD are at a higher risk. Pneumonia is known to go away on its own, however more severe cases may require a prescription. Make sure to keep yourself properly hydrated and to let yourself cough when necessary. Coughing is your body actively try to rid itself of infection. As always, contact your doctor for treatment options and a proper diagnosis.


The best way to prevent diseases and infections like pneumonia is to get vaccinated. The two most common types of pneumococcal vaccines are pneumococcal polysaccharide and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. These vaccines help protect you against dozens of families of bacteria.

In general, vaccines are an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They are proven-safe, easy and sometimes free to have administered, and keep you disease-free. They are not completely necessary; however, they can only help you in the long run.

According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, “Every year, approximately 50,000 adults die from vaccine-preventable diseases in the US.” Understanding the importance of preventing some of these infections and diseases will hopefully help you and your loved ones lead a healthier life.

Asthma Care by New York’s Dr. Shukla

The best time to deal with an asthma attack is before you have one. That means seeing an asthma doctor if you think you might have asthma but are currently undiagnosed. Frequent coughing and wheezing that lasts for several days may be an early indicator that you have the condition. Take this online control test to find out if your asthma is under control or needs more care.

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