What You Should Know About Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs that typically stems from several kinds of germs, most often bacteria and viruses.
Symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly. They include:
- Chest pain.
- Loss of appetite.
Early detection is often challenging because many people with these symptoms assume they have a cold or the flu.
Its important to also note that the vaccine helps protect against some but not all bacterial pneumonia.
There are dozens of different types of bacterial pneumonia, says Dr. Suri. The vaccine will certainly reduce your risk of the most common bacterial pneumonia.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- When should I make an appointment to get each type of pneumococcal vaccine?
- Should I still get the vaccines if Ive recently had pneumonia?
- Should I wait to turn 65 before I get each dose of pneumococcal vaccines?
- If I have a negative reaction to one type of pneumococcal vaccine, am I likely to have that same reaction to the other?
Funding was provided for these pneumococcal resources through an unrestricted grant from Pfizer Independent Grant for Learning and Change .
When Should You Call Your Doctor
The faster you get treatment, the faster you will get over pneumonia. This is especially true for the very young, for people older than 65, and for anyone with other long-lasting health problems, such as asthma.
911 or other emergency services immediately if you:
- Have chest pain that is crushing or squeezing, is increasing in intensity, or occurs with any other symptoms of a heart attack.
- Have such bad trouble breathing that you are worried you will not have the strength or ability to keep breathing.
- Cough up large amounts of blood.
- Feel that you may faint when you sit up or stand.
if you have:
- A cough that produces blood-tinged or rust-coloured mucus from the lungs.
- A fever with shaking chills.
- Difficult, shallow, fast breathing with shortness of breath or wheezing.
- Frequently brings up yellow or green mucus from the lungs and lasts longer than 2 days. Do not confuse mucus from your lungs with mucus running down the back of your throat from your nasal passages . Post-nasal drainage is not a worry.
- Occurs with a fever of 38.3Â°C or higher and brings up yellow or green mucus from the lungs .
- Causes you to vomit a lot.
- Continues longer than 4 weeks.
Also call your doctor if you have new chest pain that gets worse with deep breathing and if you have other symptoms of pneumonia, such as shortness of breath, cough, and fever.
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Doctors Support The Change
Richard Watkins, MD, an infectious disease physician and a professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Verywell that there was never any compelling evidence for the previous recommendation, adding, I am glad it has been changed.
Watkins says that the move may help more children get vaccinated, noting the convenience factor. Under the updated guidance, families only have to make one trip to get vaccinated instead of several under the previous recommendations, he says.
John Schreiber, MD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, tells Verywell that the changed guidance seems like a reasonable thing to do.
Schreiber anticipates that some parents may still be wary to give their children other vaccines at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine, but say that new recommendations are sound.
I dont have any concerns with this, Schreiber says. But, he adds, the CDC and AAP will monitor children to see what happens next. If it turns out that children are complaining about more side effects after getting vaccinated, Im sure the recommendations can be modified.”
The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.
Going To The Hospital
If you have severe pneumonia, you may have to go to the hospital:
- In most cases of pneumonia you get in your daily life, such as at school or work , it is not necessary to go to the hospital.footnote 2
- About one-third of people with community-based pneumonia are age 65 or older.footnote 2 Older adults are treated in the hospital more often and stay longer for the condition than younger people.footnote 2 Pneumonia is more serious in this group, because they often have and may develop other medical problems.
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Know The Facts About The Pneumonia Vaccine
Just as with a flu shot, and now the COVID-19 vaccines, some people believe that getting a pneumococcal vaccine will cause them to come down with the disease or experience long-term side effects.
This is absolutely not true, Dr. Suri says.
Not only will the pneumococcal vaccine help reduce the risk of contracting certain types of bacterial pneumonia, it also guards against serious consequences resulting from the flu and severe infections, such as .
For young children, older adults, smokers and those with other risk factors, the vaccine is a healthy choice to make.
I cant see any reason to avoid this vaccine and every reason to get it, she says.
What Are The Pneumonia Vaccines
There are two FDA-approved vaccines that protect against pneumonia:
13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, or PCV13
23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, or PPSV23
These immunizations are called pneumonia vaccines because they prevent pneumonia, which is an infection in the lungs. They are also known as pneumococcal vaccines because they protect against a bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae, or pneumococcus. Although there are many viruses, bacteria, and fungi that cause pneumonia, pneumococcus is the most common cause. Pneumococcus can also cause infections in other parts of the body.
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Cough And Cold Medicines
Be careful with cough and cold medicines. They may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems, so check the label first. If you do use these medicines, always follow the directions about how much to use based on age and weight.
Always check to see if any over-the-counter cough or cold medicines you are taking contain acetaminophen. If they do, make sure the acetaminophen you are taking in your cold medicine plus any other acetaminophen you may be taking is not higher than the daily recommended dose. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how much you can take every day.
How Do You Prevent Pneumonia
Getting a flu shot and a pneumonia vaccine can help protect you against the bacteria, says Dr. Dass. “Our bodies can usually clear the virus or bacteria with lots of rest and good nutrition before it turns into pneumonia,” she explains. “However, with today’s increased stress levels and decreased sleep hours, our immune systems are not in optimal shape. Lack of rest, high stress, poor diet/nutrition, and sedentary lifestyle all help fuel the onset of pneumonia.”
Considering pneumonia is “one of the most common and lethal medical conditions doctors see,” it’s a very important topic to be aware of, adds Dr. Dass. “In the most recent National Health Statistics Report published in 2018, pneumonia accounted for 0.5 percent of all emergency room visits. If you take into account all emergency room visits or office visits where this was the main issue, this accounts for more than 4.5 million people.”
Both doctors agree that staying vaccinated and staying vigilant are crucial well beyond cold and flu season. Be sure to visit your doctor as soon as you feel something’s not quite right.
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How Effective Is Each Vaccine
Vaccines help protect against disease, but no vaccine is 100% effective.
Studies show that at least one dose of Prevnar 13 protects 80% of babies from serious pneumococcal infections, 75% of adults age 65 and older from invasive pneumococcal disease , and 45% of adults age 65 and older from pneumococcal pneumonia.
Studies show that one dose of Pneumovax 23 protects 50% to 85% of healthy adults against invasive pneumococcal disease.
How Do We Know The Vaccine Is Safe
All medicines are tested for safety and effectiveness by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency . The vaccine meets the high safety standards required for it to be used in the UK and other European countries. The vaccine has been given to millions of people worldwide.
Once they’re in use, the safety of vaccines continues to be monitored by the MHRA.
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Are You 65 Or Older Get Two Vaccinations Against Pneumonia
- By Gregory Curfman, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Former Editor-in-Chief, Harvard Health Publishing
ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
If you or a loved one is age 65 or older, getting vaccinated against pneumonia is a good idea so good that the Centers for Disease Control now recommends that everyone in this age group get vaccinated against pneumonia twice.
This new recommendation is based on findings from a large clinical trial called CAPiTA, which were published today in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Streptococcus pneumoniae, sometimes just called pneumococcus, is a common bacterium that can cause serious lung infections like pneumonia. It can also cause invasive infections of the bloodstream, the tissues covering the brain and spinal cord , and other organs and tissues. Older individuals are especially prone to being infected by Pneumococcus, and these infections are often deadly.
The dark spots are pneumonia-causing Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria isolated from the blood of an infected person.
One caveat is that while PCV13 is effective in preventing pneumonia caused by S. pneumoniae, it does not prevent pneumonia caused by viruses or other bacteria.
Who Needs One Or Two Pneumonia Vaccines
There are two pneumococcal vaccines, each working in a different way to maximize protection. PPSV23 protects against 23 strains of pneumococcal bacteria. Those 23 strains are about 90- to 95-plus percent of the strains that cause pneumonia in humans, Poland explains. PCV13, on the other hand, is a conjugate vaccine that protects against 13 strains of pneumococcal bacteria. PCV13 induces immunologic memory, he says. Your body will remember that it has encountered an antigen 20 years from now and develop antibodies to fight it off.
In order to get the best protection against all strains of bacteria that cause pneumonia, the CDC has long recommended that everyone 65 or older receive both vaccines: PCV13 , followed by the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine at a later visit. But the agency is now saying that PCV13 may not be necessary for healthy people 65 and older, suggesting that the decision be left up to patients and their physicians as to whether that extra skin prick is appropriate.
“Anyone who reaches the age of 65 and is in any way immunocompromised or has any of the listed indications for pneumococcal vaccine because they’re in a high-risk group for example, if they have diabetes, heart disease or lung disease, or are a smoker should continue to get both vaccines, says Schaffner.
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Are There Treatments For Covid
Pneumonia may need treatment in a hospital with oxygen, a ventilator to help you breathe, and intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration.
Clinical trials are looking into whether some drugs and treatments used for other conditions might treat severe COVID-19 or related pneumonia, including dexamethasone, a corticosteroid.
The FDA has approved the antiviral remdesivir for treatment of patients hospitalized with COVID. The drug was origininally developed to treat the Ebola virus.
The agency rescinded an emergency use authorization for the anti-malarials chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine amid serious concerns about their safety and how well they worked against the virus.
How Do You Get Pneumonia
You may get pneumonia:
- After you breathe infected air particles into your lungs.
- After you breathe certain bacteria from your nose and throat into your lungs.
- During or after a viral upper respiratory infection, such as a cold or influenza .
- As a complication of a viral illness, such as measles or chickenpox.
- If you breathe large amounts of food, gastric juices from the stomach, or vomit into the lungs . This can happen when you have had a medical condition that affects your ability to swallow, such as a seizure or a stroke.
A healthy person’s nose and throat often contain bacteria or viruses that cause pneumonia. Pneumonia can develop when these organisms spread to your lungs while your lungs are more likely to be infected. Examples of times when this can happen are during or soon after a cold or if you have a long-term illness, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .
You can get pneumonia in your daily life, such as at school or work or when you are in a hospital or nursing home . Treatment may differ in healthcare-associated pneumonia, because bacteria causing the infection in hospitals may be different from those causing it in the community. This topic focuses on community-associated pneumonia.
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Keeping You Safe When You Visit Us
We’re working hard to make sure our pharmacists can provide services, care and advice to you safely. Here are some of the things we’re doing to keep you safe.
We politely ask you to wear a face covering if youre using one of our pharmacy services
Our colleagues will be wearing PPE
Well be limiting the time you spend with our pharmacists in our consultation room
We’ll clean the consultation room before and after every appointment
Do You Need To Get Both Vaccines
Most people do not, but some may, depending on age and other health conditions.
All healthy children should get PCV13, and children with certain health conditions should also receive PPSV23. When both vaccines are needed, they are given 8 weeks apart, and PCV13 is given first.
Adults aged 65 and over
All adults aged 65 and older should get PPSV23. If you are a healthy adult over 65, you should talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need PCV13.
PCV13 used to be recommended for all adults over age 65, but the ACIP recently changed its recommendations. This is because, as more children have been vaccinated with PCV13, the types of pneumococci that this vaccine protects against are less likely to spread and infect older adults. PCV13 can still be given, and your healthcare provider can help you decide if it is right for you.
Adults younger than 65
For adults younger than 65, PPSV23 is recommended in certain situations. If you smoke or have a chronic illness, like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , or liver disease, you should get PPSV23 at a younger age. Adults with other conditions, like a weakened immune system, should have both vaccines before age 65.
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Limit Contact With Others
One of the best things you can do when recovering from pneumonia is to limit your contact with others. As weve learned throughout the COVID-19 pandemicwhich can cause viral pneumoniastaying at least six feet away from others reduces the amount of viral or bacterial content they are exposed to as you breathe or talk.
Cover Your Mouth And Nose
While the preferred method for covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze is into a tissue, not everyone can get to tissues in time when the urge to cough or sneeze hits. If you have the urge to cough or sneezeand a tissue isnt availablethe next best thing is to cover your mouth or nose with the inside of your elbow.
Coughing or sneezing into your elbow will decrease the chances of your leaving traces of your infection on door handles, faucets, or anything else you touch.
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Who Should Get Prevnar 13 And Pneumovax 23
Prevnar 13 was developed for infants and children. The CDC recommends that all infants and children younger than 2 years of age get Prevnar 13. Prevnar 13 involves a series of four doses of the vaccine given at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and sometime between 12 and 15 months of age.
Pneumovax 23 is the vaccine used in adults. It does not work in infants and children under 2 years old.
Most adults do not need a pneumococcal vaccine until they reach the age of 65. Once a person turns 65 years old, the CDC recommends Pneumovax 23.
The same is true for any adult who smokes or has one or more of these chronic illnesses:
Chronic heart disease
Chronic lung disease, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Chronic liver disease
Other Types Of Pneumococcal Disease
Pneumonia vaccines protect against pneumococcal infections in other parts of the body. These infections include:
What is it: An infection in the middle part of the ear.
Symptoms: Fever, ear pain, and decreased hearing
Who gets it: In the U.S., over 5 million children get it each year. Pneumococcus is a common cause of ear infections. It is found in up to 30% of samples of middle ear fluid.
What is it: A sinus infection, which is often first caused by a virus. Later, a bacterial infection can set in, causing worsening or ongoing symptoms.
Symptoms: Pain and pressure around the eyes and nose, fever, drainage, and congestion
Who gets it: Sinus infections are more common in adults than in children. Pneumococcus is a common cause and may contribute to up to 35% of sinus infections.
What is it: An infection of the leptomeninges, or the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can be life-threatening, so getting immediate treatment is important.
Symptoms: Fever, confusion, headache, and neck stiffness
Who gets it: Pneumococcal meningitis usually occurs in very young children and older adults. In the U.S., pneumococcus is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in children under age 5.
These infections can also be caused by other bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Pneumococcus, the pneumococcal vaccines, is only one cause.
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