Six Unexpected Causes of Pneumonia: Are You at Risk?

Friday, December 22, 2023

From unusual sources to overlooked factors, the causes of pneumonia are more surprising and wide-ranging than you might imagine.

Pneumonia, a common yet potentially serious respiratory infection, has long been associated with the usual suspects like viruses and bacteria. However, a closer look at the unexpected triggers reveals some contributors that might leave you astounded.

Please read on to discover six surprising causes of pneumonia, along with some basic facts about this respiratory health condition and helpful prevention techniques.

Pneumonia Basics

Pneumonia is probably more common than you think, causing more than a million hospitalizations and more than 50,000 deaths each year in the United States. It is a respiratory illness characterized by inflammation of the air sacs in the lungs and accompanied by symptoms such as cough, chest pain, fever, and shortness of breath. While it can affect anyone, certain groups, such as the elderly and individuals with weakened immune systems, are at a higher risk.

Prevention Techniques

Follow these tips to shield yourself against this respiratory foe:

  • Vaccination: Getting vaccinated against common culprits like Streptococcus pneumoniae and influenza significantly reduces the risk.
  • Hand Hygiene: Regular handwashing using soap and warm water prevents the spread of germs that could lead to respiratory infections. Hand-sanitizing gels can also help reduce transmission.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Adequate sleep, a balanced diet, and regular exercise boost the immune system, providing a more robust defense against pneumonia.

Six Unusual Culprits

1.     Indoor Plants

While plants contribute to indoor air quality, they can also host molds that, when inhaled, may trigger pneumonia in susceptible individuals. Proper ventilation and plant maintenance can help strike the right balance.

2.     Construction Dust

Many building and development activities generate dust that contains harmful particles, including bacteria and fungi, that can contribute to pneumonia when inhaled. Wearing appropriate respiratory protection is key for those working in construction environments.

3.     Aspiration of Gastric Contents

In some cases, inhaling stomach contents into the lungs (aspiration) can lead to pneumonia. This risk is heightened during episodes of vomiting, so exercise caution, especially if you or your loved one is among a vulnerable population.

4.     Antacids and Acid-Reducing Medications

Medications that reduce stomach acid may inadvertently increase the risk of respiratory infections. Consult with your healthcare provider to find a balance between managing acid reflux and minimizing pneumonia risk.

5.     Wood-Burning Stoves and Fireplaces

The cozy charm of your wood-burning fireplace may come at a cost. Inhaling wood smoke particles can irritate the lungs, potentially leading to pneumonia. Adequate ventilation and regular chimney maintenance are essential.

6.     Poor Dental Health

A lack of proper oral hygiene can contribute to pneumonia because harmful bacteria in the mouth can be inhaled into the lungs. Regular dental check-ups and good oral care practices are crucial for overall respiratory health.

Understanding pneumonia involves learning about its many surprising causes. By adopting preventive measures, staying informed, and recognizing the lesser-known triggers, you can protect your respiratory health and the health of your loved ones.

Staying healthy is easier when you are armed with the right information. If you need additional resources about the causes of pneumonia, we are here to help. Please reach out to our caring professionals anytime.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 25 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African-American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information about our funeral, cremation, memorial, repast, and grief counseling services, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at

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