How Serious Is Pneumococcal Pneumonia Symptoms Treatment

How Serious Is Pneumococcal Pneumonia Symptoms Treatment

How Serious Is Pneumococcal Pneumonia?

Pneumococcal pneumonia can cause your lungs to fill with mucus, making breathing difficult. Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae) bacteria are responsible for this serious infection. They are particularly lethal for the lungs and can potentially lead to pneumococcal pneumonia —the most common type of pneumonia in the United States.

Because the symptoms can appear suddenly and keep you from going about your daily activities for weeks, pneumococcal pneumonia is regarded as a potentially serious bacterial lung disease.

4 reasons pneumococcal pneumonia is serious

Four reasons why pneumococcal pneumonia is considered a serious and lethal bacterial lung disease include:

  1. Incidence
    • Pneumococcal pneumonia is the most common type of pneumococcal disease in adults, affecting approximately 175,000 Americans each year.
    • Each year, it causes thousands of hospitalizations and over 10,000 deaths in the United States, killing about 1 in every 20 people who become infected.
    • Hospitalized people with pneumococcal pneumonia have a mortality rate of 12 to 30 percent.
    • Age and antibiotic-resistant
      • Pneumococcal pneumonia is a potentially fatal disease, especially in older people even with appropriate antibiotics.
      • It is one of the most common and severe causes of pneumonia in older adults and has a high case fatality rate, particularly in people who are 65 years and older.
      • Older people with chronic illnesses are more vulnerable to severe infections, complications, and death, especially when complications such as bacteremia are present.
      • Pathogen
        • S. pneumoniae are infectious bacteria that have caused millions of fatalities worldwide, known as pneumococcal diseases.
        • They initially colonize the nasopharynx without causing symptoms, but they can spread to healthy tissues and organs, causing infections.
        • Pneumococcal pneumonia is a global health concern that primarily affects children under five years, older people, and those with preexisting medical disorders.
        • S. pneumoniae possesses virulence characteristics that increase adhesion, invasion of host tissues, and resistance to host immune responses.
        • Several complications
          • Pneumococcal pneumonia can disrupt your life for weeks.
          • Symptoms can hit quickly and without warning, causing constant fatigue.
          • It can affect your ability to work and may require hospitalization.
          • Complications include sepsis, organ failure, meningitis, septic arthritis, empyema, peritonitis, endocarditis, pericarditis, endobronchial obstruction, atelectasis, abscess in the lungs, infections at other sites, and death.
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          Pneumonia is currently the most common pneumococcal disease, which needs prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment to avoid complications.

          What are the common signs and symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia?

          Pneumococcal pneumonia symptoms can appear suddenly, with a general feeling of being unwell.

          Common symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia may include:

          • Fever (higher than 100.4°F [38°C])
          • Chills and shaking
          • Sweats
          • Aches and pains
          • Headache
          • A general sense of feeling unwell
          • Chest pain
          • Rapid breathing
          • Shortness of breath
          • Cough
          • Blood-stained or "rusty" colored phlegm
          • Drowsiness or confusion
          • Vomiting
          • Fatigue

          Pneumococcal pneumonia occurs when pneumococci colonize the upper respiratory tract and replicate in the alveoli, causing an inflammatory response and several symptoms.

          How do you get pneumococcal pneumonia?

          Streptococcus pneumoniae causes pneumococcal illness. Bacteria enter the body through the nose and mouth, often transmitted by droplets in the air from coughing or sneezing. They can also be transmitted by contacting infected surfaces or objects and then touching the nose or mouth. When germs enter the lungs, they can cause irritation and mucus buildup in the air sacs.

          This infection is more common in infants, young children, and individuals 65 years and older.

          Children at high risk of pneumococcal pneumonia:

          • Younger than two years
          • Belong to childcare in a group setting
          • Have underlying health conditions
          • Have cochlear implants or leaks of cerebrospinal fluid
          • Lack of breastfeeding
          • Exposure to indoor air pollution

          People at high risk of pneumococcal pneumonia:

          • Have severe and chronic illnesses
          • Previous influenza and other respiratory virus infection
          • Coexisting allergies
          • Have weakened immune systems
          • Live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
          • Have cochlear implants or leaks of cerebrospinal fluid
          • Smoke cigarettes
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          The failure to develop an antibody response is a critical risk factor for invasive pneumococcal infection. People with compromised neutrophil function, such as those with alcoholism, diabetes, liver cirrhosis, prolonged corticosteroid medication, or decreased renal function, are at increased risk.

          Treatment options for pneumococcal pneumonia

          Treatment options for pneumococcal pneumonia include rest, hydration, antibiotics, medicine to control fever and pain, intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration, and supplemental oxygen if necessary.

          Antibiotics are used to treat pneumococcal infection, but drug resistance can complicate treatment. The following antibiotics are prescribed for pneumococcal pneumonia:

          • For mild infections: Amoxicillin, second or third-generation cephalosporins, or oral levofloxacin.
          • For severe infections: Ceftriaxone or cefotaxime, followed by vancomycin.

          A combination of antibiotics may be recommended.

          Antibiotics are often administered orally as pills or liquids. Severe infections may require hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics. Supplemental oxygen may be used if difficulty breathing occurs.

          How can we prevent pneumococcal pneumonia?

          Prevention is important as bacteria are becoming more resistant to drugs. Important prevention options include:

          • Get a pneumococcal vaccination.
          • Get a yearly flu shot.
          • Avoid contact with people who have the flu or pneumonia.
          • Practice hand hygiene and avoid touching your face, especially during flu season.
          • Cough and sneeze into a tissue, discard it immediately, and wash your hands.
          • Do not share cups or utensils.
          • Stay home when sick and limit contact with others.
          • Follow treatment as directed by your healthcare provider.
          • Finish the antibiotics course.

          Preventing pneumococcal pneumonia is crucial for reducing mortality. Adequate nutrition, addressing environmental factors, and promoting good hygiene help reduce the number of people with pneumonia.

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          Types of vaccinations for pneumococcal pneumonia

          Vaccinations available to prevent pneumococcal pneumonia include conjugate 7-valent (PCV7), 13-valent (PCV13), and pneumococcal polysaccharide (PPSV23) vaccines.

          PCV7 and PCV13 are indicated for children under two years and individuals with specific medical disorders.

          PPSV23 is indicated for people over 65 years, with genetic or medical problems, and who smoke.

          People with sickle cell disease are advised to get penicillin prophylaxis in addition to vaccination during the first five years of life.

          Vaccinations protect against the most common strains of S. pneumoniae, but not all strains. They are safe and effective, with mild side effects. The benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.

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