There are many different types of pneumonia – a very serious infection affecting the lungs – that individuals can be diagnosed with. These include hospital-acquired pneumonia, community-acquired pneumonia, walking pneumonia, viral or bacterial pneumonia, and fungal pneumonia. There is also a type of pneumonia known as pneumococcal pneumonia, which is considered to be the most common type of bacterial-related pneumonia that individuals are diagnosed with. It is caused by bacteria living in the upper respiratory tract, and can be spread from something as simple as coughing. Along with invading the lungs, the bacteria can also invade the bloodstream (resulting in a condition known as bactereemia) in addition to invading the tissues and fluids that surround your brain and spinal cord, potentially resulting in meningitis.
Common symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia include the following:
• High fever
• Trouble breathing
• Shortness of breath
• Rapid breathing
• Chest pain
The aforementioned symptoms can develop without warning and they can persist for at least two weeks – sometimes even longer. In cases where pneumococcal pneumonia is severe, you may even need to be hospitalized, and it can also lead to death, which is why it’s important to address any symptoms you develop upon first signs.
There are many risk factors when it comes to the development of pneumococcal pneumonia. For example, age, as it typically affects individuals aged 65 or older (though it can also affect children under the age of 2.) To decrease your risk of getting pneumococcal pneumonia, it’s important that you take good care of your health and stay active. However, that being said, even if you live the healthiest lifestyle possible, that doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods and are guaranteed to avoid developing pneumococcal pneumonia, as there are other risk factors that could increase your chances of getting it, including whether or not you’re a smoker, as well as other chronic medical conditions like asthma, COPD, and diabetes.
The best way to protect yourself against pneumococcal disease is by getting vaccinated. One vaccine, known as a conjugate vaccine, is suggested for children under the age of 2, while another vaccine known as a polysaccharide vaccine, is recommended for adults over the age of 65 as well as children over the age of 2 that have underlying medical conditions. The polysaccharide vaccine can protect against 23 types of streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, which is responsible for as many as 90% of pneumococcal pneumonia in adults, while the conjugate vaccine protects against up to 86% of the bacteria that causes blood infections in children, and 83% of the bacteria that causes meningitis. You can find more evidence-based information on these and other types of vaccines by visiting www.immunizebc.ca.