Are you at risk of Pneumonia?

Are you at risk of Pneumonia? We all are. Pneumonia can strike anyone, at any age, at any time.

Did you know?

  • Pneumonia is one of the leading causes of death in men and women (3)
  • More than 26,000 people died of pneumonia in England and Wales during 2013 (4)
  • Around 220,000 people receive a diagnosis of pneumonia in the UK each year (5)
  • The UK has the 21st highest death rate from pneumonia in the world. The only European countries with higher are Slovakia and Romania (5)

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is swelling (inflammation) of the tissue in one or both lungs. It’s usually caused by a bacterial infection. At the end of the breathing tubes in your lungs are clusters of tiny air sacs. If you have pneumonia, these tiny sacs become inflamed and fill up with fluid. (2)

The symptoms of pneumonia can develop suddenly over 24 to 48 hours, or they may come on more slowly over several days.

Common symptoms of pneumonia include a cough, difficulty breathing – your breathing may be rapid and shallow, and you may feel breathless, even when resting. A rapid heartbeat, fever, feeling generally unwell, sweating and shivering, loss of appetite and chest pain – which gets worse when breathing or coughing.

Less common symptoms include coughing up blood, headaches, fatigue, nausea or vomiting, wheezing, joint and muscle pain, feeling confused and disorientated, particularly in elderly people (2).

There is some seasonal variation with most pneumonia cases occurring in the Autumn and Winter months. It can be particularly serious for the very young, elderly and those with impaired immunity.


Mild pneumonia can usually be treated at home with rest, taking antibiotics and drinking plenty of fluids. If you don’t have any other health problems, you should respond well to treatment and soon recover, although your cough may last for some time.

For at-risk groups, pneumonia can be severe and may need to be treated in hospital. This is because it can lead to serious complications, which in some cases can be fatal, depending on a person’s health and age. Those with underlying medical conditions such as asthma and heart conditions are at particular risk of severe disease.


Good standards of hand hygiene and a healthy lifestyle are key ways to protect yourself. Smoking is a particular risk. A vaccination is also available should you wish to seek further protection (2).

Don’t forget that many people at risk of pneumococcal infections are also recommended to think about risk of contracting flu and possible protection (6).

With over 30 years’ experience, MASTA operates one of the largest networks of private travel health clinics in the UK. MASTA Clinics are located within a variety of settings including established partnerships with BUPA, Flight Centre, STA, Pharmacies, GP Surgeries and Occupational Health establishments. All of these offer a comprehensive travel health service inclusive of a tailored risk assessment based on itinerary and personal circumstance, vaccinations, antimalarials and retail products.  Proven in travel health and respected for more, we also offer broader ‘non-travel’ vaccination services such as influenza, pneumonia, shingles to name a few examples. Trusted by many, more than 150 companies currently refer employee to MASTA for both travel and occupational health services.


  1. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). NICE clinical guideline 191- Pneumonia. Issued: December 2014. Available HERE:  Last accessed October 2016.
  2. NHS Choices. Pneumonia. Available HERE . Last accessed October 2016.
  3. Office of National Statistics: Deaths registered in England and Wales (Series DR). 2013. 
  4. Office of National Statistics: Deaths: underlying cause, sex and age-group, 2013. Table 5.10: Diseases of the respiratory system, England and Wales. Ages =15, ICD-10 codes J12-J18.
  5. British Lung Foundation. Pneumonia. Last accessed October 2016
  6. Public Health England. The green book (2013). Chapter 19: Influenza. Available HERE. Last accessed October 2016.

†England in 2013/14

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Mother of three grown-up daughters I am the ultimate multi-tasker and am passionate about my role as Silversurfers Website Editor and Social Media Manager. Always on the lookout for all things that will interest and entertain our community. Fueling fun for the young at heart!

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