December 7, 2022

Filipino Guardian

Sentinels of Filipino Free Press

What is pneumococcal disease? – Healthy women

3 min read

Pneumococcal disease is an umbrella term for diseases caused by bacteria called pneumococci. There are more than 90 species of pneumococci and they are the leading cause of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). CAP is the type of pneumonia that people get from non-medical community facilities.

Pneumonia is a serious infection of the lungs. If you have a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection, mucus or pus can collect in the air sacs in your lungs. When you have pneumonia, the buildup prevents oxygen from entering the bloodstream, making it difficult to breathe.

What is the connection between flu and pneumonia?

Influenza, known as the flu, is a specific respiratory viral infection and one of the most common causes of pneumonia. Unlike pneumococcal disease, influenza cannot be treated with antibiotics.

“Influenza works hand-in-hand with pneumonia,” said William Schaffner, MD, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Schaffner added that flu shots can help prevent pneumonia.

Who can get pneumococci and how?

Pneumococcal bacteria primarily affect infants, young children and the elderly. The disease is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids, such as coughing or sneezing. Sometimes people carry the bacteria in their noses without getting sick and transmit the disease to other people.

“Children are the great carriers and [spreaders] of pneumococci,” said Schaffner. “You can bring them home and they can spread these infections to their parents, grandparents and neighbors.”

Pneumococcal vaccines are part of the childhood immunization schedule, which means it is recommended that every child be vaccinated against the disease. Schaffner said the immunization program has virtually eradicated serious pneumococcal disease in young children.

However, children can still transmit the disease to adults over the age of 65. And older adults are more likely to die from infection due to underlying medical conditions.

Risk factors for pneumococcal disease in adults include:

How serious is pneumococcal disease?

According to the CDC, pneumococcal pneumonia results in about 150,000 hospitalizations each year. In 2019, pneumococcal meningitis and bacteremia — bacteria in the blood — caused about 3,250 deaths in the United States.

About one in six older adults dies from pneumococcal meningitis each year.

What are the most common symptoms of pneumococcal disease?

Although there are many different types of pneumococcal disease, there are some common symptoms. These include fever, sensitivity to light, ear pain, chest pain, sore throat, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, confusion, cough and headache.

How is pneumococcal disease treated?

Pneumococcal disease can often be diagnosed by testing blood, urine, or the fluid around your brain and spinal cord (cerebrospinal fluid). Once the specific bacteria are identified, doctors use an antibiotic that targets those bacteria to treat the infection.

Can vaccinations prevent pneumococcal disease?

Vaccinations can prevent pneumococcal disease. Two types of pneumococcal vaccine are available in the United States:

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV13, PCV15 and PCV20)Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23)

The PCV vaccines have a carrier protein that increases their effectiveness and PPSV does not. However, both vaccines are effective against most common pneumococcal bacteria. PPSV23 is recommended as a booster dose for individuals with certain underlying medical conditions after administration of a conjugate vaccine.

There are two recommended vaccination times, one for children and one for adults. It is best to ask your doctor what is best for you.

After vaccination, common side effects can include drowsiness, decreased appetite, fever, poor sleep quality, and irritability.

It is important to note that these vaccines offer good but not complete protection, and it is possible to get sick after vaccination. Because there are so many strains, you can get reinfected even after you get sick.

Currently, vaccines are the only preventive measures for pneumococcal disease. Therefore, it is best to get vaccinated as soon as possible. According to Schaffner, “Vaccinations are key to preventing serious pneumococcal disease.”

This resource was created with the support of Merck.

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