Reducing Your Risk of Pneumonia
by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Smoking irritates your lungs and interferes with the normal defenses that protect you against infection. If you quit smoking, your lungs will gradually heal themselves. Your doctor can recommend programs or nicotine replacement systems that can help you successfully quit.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin C should be part of your daily diet. It is found in fruit (strawberries, papaya, and kiwi) and vegetables (peppers, broccoli, and peas). Women should get 75 mg of vitamin C per day, and men should get 90 mg. If you do not consume enough vitamin C in your diet, you may want to talk to your doctor about taking a supplement. Research studies suggest that vitamin C may prevent and treat pneumonia.
Zinc is an essential mineral that is found in almost every cell of the body. It is necessary for proper growth and immune function. If someone is deficient in this mineral, taking a daily zinc supplement may help to reduce the risk of developing pneumonia. Researchers have found that this is especially true for children who live in developing countries. If you want to take zinc or give it to your child, talk to the doctor first to find out if this is a good choice.
Use Precautions to Avoid Infections
Here are some basic steps to help you avoid infection and keep your lungs healthy:
Get Vaccinated TOP
Vaccines can be particularly helpful at protecting you against developing pneumonia:
Influenza vaccine is given every fall. It protects you against the types of influenza that are predicted to be in your community that coming winter. You should get the flu shot yearly because having influenza puts you at a high risk of developing pneumonia.
Children should receive a series of pneumonia vaccines to prevent specific bacterial infections that cause pneumonia. A different pneumococcal vaccine should be given to adults 65 years and older and to people at risk of pneumonia.
Haemophilus vaccine is given to protect against a specific bacteria that can cause pneumonia or meningitis. This vaccine is given to children in the United States who are younger than 5 years old. It is often given to infants starting at 2 months of age.
Ascorbic acid. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T233206/Ascorbic-Acid. Updated October 25, 2016. Accessed November 10, 2016.
Bhandari N, Bahl R, Taneja S, et al. Effect of routine zinc supplementation on pneumonia in children aged 6 months to 3 years: randomised controlled trial in an urban slum. BMJ. 2002;324(7350):1358.
Bhutta ZA, Black RE, Brown KH, et al. Prevention of diarrhea and pneumonia by zinc supplementation in children in developing countries: pooled analysis of randomized controlled trials. Zinc Investigators' Collaborative Group. J Pediatr. 1999;135(6):689-697.
Brooks WA, Santosham M, Naheed A, et al. Effect of weekly zinc supplements on incidence of pneumonia and diarrhoea in children younger than 2 years in an urban, low-income population in Bangladesh: randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2005;366(9490):999-1004.
Community-acquired pneumonia in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated August 15, 2016. Accessed November 10, 2016.
Jackson LA, Neuzil KM, Yu O, et al. Effectiveness of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine in older adults. N Engl J Med. 2003;348(18):1747-1755.
Preventing pneumonia. American Lung Association website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed November 10, 2016.
Prevention. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated September 26, 2016. Accessed November 10, 2016.
Zinc. Office of Dietary Supplements website. Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional. Updated February 11, 2016. Accessed November 10, 2016.
10/30/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed...: Hemila H, Louhiala P. Vitamin C for preventing and treating pneumonia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(3):CD005532.
2/4/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed...: Lassi Z, Haider B, Bhutta ZA. Zinc supplementation for the prevention of pneumonia in children aged 2 months to 59 months. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(12):CD005978.
10/21/2013 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed...: Hemilä H, Louhiala P. Vitamin C for preventing and treating pneumonia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;(8):CD005532.
Last reviewed November 2016 by David L. Horn, MD
Last Updated: 5/20/2015
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.