A recent U.K. study has pointed out that individuals with celiac disease have an increased risk of contracting pneumonia, particularly in the first year after their diagnosis with celiac.
Individuals with celiac disease need to be extra vigilant about vaccinating against pneumonia, and with winter coming it’s time to come up with a plan for getting you and your family vaccinated. Read on for more information on what makes celiac patients more vulnerable and what can be done to combat this issue.
What is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an inflammatory lung condition usually caused by infection due to viruses or bacteria. It affects approximately 450 million people globally every year, and results in about 4 million deaths. Pneumonia is often treated with oral antibiotics but can be especially dangerous among the very old, very young, and chronically ill.
Why Do Celiac Patients Have an Increased Risk of Infection?
A recent U.K. study found that patients with celiac disease who are unvaccinated for pneumonia are approximately 30% more likely to develop pneumonia than those without celiac. This effect was not found in those with celiac disease who had been vaccinated for pneumonia. The risk for pneumonia infection was highest for those diagnosed with celiac disease within the past year but remained elevated for 5 years.
Joe West, a U.K. doctor who helped conduct the study, explained that the most plausible explanation for why patients with celiac disease are more vulnerable to pneumonia infection is splenic dysfunction. In other words, the diminished spleen function that goes hand in hand with celiac disease affects susceptibility to the bacteria associated with pneumonia infections.
Can I Get Vaccinated for Pneumonia?
This study suggests that clinicians should be extra vigilant about vaccinating those with celiac disease for pneumonia. Health officials both in the U.K. and U.S. are recommending that people with celiac disease be vaccinated.
The pneumonia vaccination can be given at any time of year. There are two types, and which is required depends on your age and health profile. Vaccinations are often available through pharmacies, but talk to your health care provider about the best option. Also inquire about when you should receive a pneumonia booster, because boosters are recommended, among other reasons, for those with damaged spleen function, characteristic of celiac disease.