What Are Other Causes Of Pneumonia
Pneumococcal disease is not the only cause of pneumonia. Viruses, fungi, and other bacteria can cause pneumonia too. Some of the most common causes of pneumonia include:
- The flu
- Respiratory syncytial virus
- The common cold
Less often, illnesses like whooping cough, measles, and chickenpox can cause pneumonia. Vaccines are available for these illnesses. Getting these vaccines along with the flu, COVID-19, and pneumococcal vaccines can help you reduce the chances you get pneumonia. Pneumonia can be serious. About 3 million Americans go to the emergency department each year for pneumonia. Around 50,000 Americans die each year from pneumonia.
What Is Pneumococcal Disease
Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by bacteria called “pneumococcus.” It can lead to serious, possibly deadly, illnesses such as pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis . Anyone can get these diseases, but some people have a higher risk. People with the highest risk include infants, people 65 years and older, and adults of any age with certain health conditions such as kidney disease. You also have a higher risk if you are on dialysis or have a kidney transplant.
Everything You Need To Know About The Pneumonia Vaccine
During the winter months, many people think that they have a nasty cold or flu, but it turns out to be pneumonia an illness that can be life threatening in certain people. A vaccine can help lower your chance of contracting pneumonia. While the pneumonia vaccine does not prevent all cases of pneumonia, it reduces the severity of the disease.
That is especially important for older adults and if you have certain medical conditions that put you at greater risk for complications.
Now is the time to talk to your doctor about your risks and if you need a vaccine to protect you against pneumonia.
Niharika Juwarkar, MD, Internal Medicine with Firelands Physician Group, answers your most frequently asked questions about pneumonia and the risks.
What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a respiratory lung infection that is often mistaken for the flu. Your lungs become filled with fluid or pus that results in inflammation. Symptoms are very similar to the flu, but pneumonia can last for weeks and result in very serious complications.
While pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, most cases are due to a specific bacteria called streptococcus pneumoniae, more commonly known as pneumococcal pneumonia. This form can be treated with antibiotics. Your doctor can test to see what form of pneumonia you have. Treatment depends on the type of pneumonia you have and the severity of your symptoms. But, the best defense is vaccination.
Who is most at risk for pneumonia?
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What To Think About
In most cases pneumonia is a short-term, treatable illness. But frequent bouts of pneumonia can be a serious complication of a long-term illness, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease . If you have a severe long-term illness, it may be hard to treat your pneumonia, or you may choose not to treat it. You and your doctor should discuss this. This discussion may include information about how to create an advance care plan.
For more information, see:
There are a number of steps you can take to help prevent getting pneumonia.
- Stop smoking. You’re more likely to get pneumonia if you smoke.
- Avoid people who have infections that sometimes lead to pneumonia.
- Stay away from people who have colds, the flu, or other respiratory tract infections.
- If you haven’t had measles or chickenpox or if you didn’t get vaccines against these diseases, avoid people who have them.
Booster Doses Of Pneumococcal Vaccine
If you’re at increased risk of a pneumococcal infection, you’ll be given a single dose of the PPV vaccine.
But if your spleen does not work properly or you have a chronic kidney condition, you may need booster doses of PPV every 5 years.
This is because your levels of antibodies against the infection decrease over time.
Your GP surgery will advise you on whether you’ll need a booster dose.
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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
Whats The Difference Between Pcv13 And Ppsv23
|helps protect you against 13 different strains of pneumococcal bacteria||helps protect you against 23 different strains of pneumococcal bacteria|
|usually given four separate times to children under two||generally given once to anyone over 64|
|generally given only once to adults older than 64 or adults older than 19 if they have an immune condition||given to anyone over 19 who regularly smokes nicotine products like cigarettes or cigars|
- Both vaccines help prevent pneumococcal complications like bacteremia and meningitis.
- Youll need more than one pneumonia shot during your lifetime. A 2016 study found that, if youre over 64, receiving both the PCV13 shot and the PPSV23 shot provide the best protection against all the strains of bacteria that cause pneumonia.
- Dont get the shots too close together. Youll need to wait about a year in between each shot.
- Check with your doctor to make sure youre not allergic to any of the ingredients used to make these vaccines before getting either shot.
- a vaccine made with diphtheria toxoid
- another version of the shot called PCV7
- any previous injections of a pneumonia shot
- are allergic to any ingredients in the shot
- have had severe allergies to a PPSV23 shot in the past
- are very sick
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In Older Adults And Children
Older adults may have different, fewer, or milder symptoms, such as having no fever or having a cough with no mucus . The major sign of pneumonia in older adults may be a change in how clearly they think or when a lung disease they already have gets worse.
In children, symptoms may depend on age:
- In infants younger than 1 month of age, symptoms may include having little or no energy , feeding poorly, grunting, or having a fever.
- In children, symptoms of pneumonia are often the same as in adults. Your doctor will look for signs such as a cough and a faster breathing rate.
Some conditions with symptoms similar to pneumonia include bronchitis, COPD, and tuberculosis.
How Long Does A Pneumonia Shot Last
- Younger than 2 years old: four shots
- 65 years old or older: two shots, which will last you the rest of your life
- Between 2 and 64 years old: between one and three shots if you have certain immune system disorders or if youre a smoker
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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.
Tetanus Diphtheria And Pertussis
The tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccine combined is recommended if you have not received a tetanus shot in the last 10 years or have only had the tetanus and diphtheria combined vaccine and not the Tdap in the past.
Tetanus is caused by a bacteria in soil, dirt and manure and can impair the nervous system. Diphtheria is caused by a bacteria that attaches to the lining of the respiratory system, which causes difficulty breathing and swallowing and can get into the bloodstream and damage the heart, kidneys and nerves. Pertussis can be a very serious disease, especially for vulnerable populations, such as infants, young children and older adults. Pertussis causes coughing fits due to the bacteria attaching to the lining of the upper respiratory system.
The vaccine is greater than 95 percent effective in preventing tetanus and diphtheria and 70 percent effective in preventing pertussis. You can get this vaccine from your health care provider.
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How Often Is The Pneumococcal Vaccine Given
Babies receive the pneumococcal vaccine as three separate injections, at 2 months, 4 months and 12-13 months.
People over-65 only need a single pneumococcal vaccination which will protect for life. It is not given annually like the flu jab.
People with a long term health condition may need just a single one-off pneumococcal vaccination or five-yearly vaccination depending on their underlying health problem.
People With Health Problems And The Pneumococcal Vaccine
The PPV vaccine is available on the NHS for children and adults aged from 2 to 64 years old who are at a higher risk of developing a pneumococcal infection than the general population.
This is generally the same people who are eligible for annual flu vaccination.
You’re considered to be at a higher risk of a pneumococcal infection if you have:
- a suppressed immune system caused by a health condition, such as HIV
- a suppressed immune system caused by medicines, such as chemotherapy or steroid tablets
- a cochlear implant Action on Hearing Loss has more information about cochlear implants
- had a leak of cerebrospinal fluid this could be the result of an accident or surgery
Adults and children who are severely immunocompromised usually have a single dose of PCV followed by PPV.
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Babies And The Pneumococcal Vaccine
Babies are routinely vaccinated with a type of pneumococcal vaccine known as the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine as part of their childhood vaccination programme.
Babies born on or after 1 January 2020 have 2 injections, which are usually given at:
- 12 weeks old
- 1 year old
Babies born before this date will continue to be offered 3 doses, at 8 and 16 weeks and a booster at 1 year.
What Are The Symptoms
Symptoms of pneumonia may include:
- Cough. You will likely cough up mucus from your lungs. Mucus may be rusty or green or tinged with blood.
- Fever, chills, and sweating.
- Feeling very tired or very weak.
When you have less severe symptoms, your doctor may call this “walking pneumonia.”
Older adults may have different, fewer, or milder symptoms. They may not have a fever. Or they may have a cough but not bring up mucus. The main sign of pneumonia in older adults may be a change in how well they think. Confusion or delirium is common. Or, if they already have a lung disease, that disease may get worse.
Symptoms caused by viruses are the same as those caused by bacteria. But they may come on slowly and often are not as obvious or as bad.
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How Can You Prevent Pneumonia
Experts recommend immunization for children and adults. Children get the pneumococcal vaccine as part of their routine shots. If you are 65 or older or you have a long-term health problem, it’s a good idea to get a pneumococcal vaccine. It may not keep you from getting pneumonia. But if you do get pneumonia, you probably won’t be as sick. You can also get an influenza vaccine to prevent the flu, because sometimes people get pneumonia after having the flu.
You can also lower your chances of getting pneumonia by staying away from people who have the flu, respiratory symptoms, or chickenpox. You may get pneumonia after you have one of these illnesses. Wash your hands often. This helps prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria that may cause pneumonia.
Who Should Have The Pneumococcal Vaccine
Anyone can get a pneumococcal infection. But some people are at higher risk of serious illness, so it’s recommended they’re given the pneumococcal vaccination on the NHS.
- adults aged 65 or over
- children and adults with certain long-term health conditions, such as a serious heart or kidney condition
Babies are offered 2 doses of pneumococcal vaccine, at 12 weeks and at 1 year of age.
People aged 65 and over only need a single pneumococcal vaccination. This vaccine is not given annually like the flu jab.
If you have a long-term health condition you may only need a single, one-off pneumococcal vaccination, or a vaccination every 5 years, depending on your underlying health problem.
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What If You Never Got Prevnar 13 As A Child
Lets say you never got a vaccine for pneumococcal bacteria when you were little . Most of you will just wait until you turn 65 years old, at which time, youll get Prevnar 13 followed by Pneumovax 23 at least 1 year later.
In certain cases, the timing may be different. Your provider will be able to advise you based on your specific situation.
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.
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How Many Doses Of The Pneumococcal Vaccine Do I Need
Most adults only need the vaccine once. But your doctor may recommend you get another shot if its been a while since you have the vaccine or for other reasons. Ask your doctor how often you need the shot.
You do not have to get the pneumococcal vaccine every year, like the flu shot. You may only need to get it once and a booster shot a few years later. Find out what your doctor recommends.
How Often Do I Need To Get The Pneumonia Vaccine
The pneumonia vaccine also known as the pneumococcal vaccine offers protection against several strains of bacteria that can cause pneumonia. There are two types of the vaccine, one of which is specifically designed for adults over the age of 65 and anyone particularly high-risk because of a long-term health condition. The other vaccine Prevnar 13 is available in our stores for adults aged 18 and over.*
Most adults getting the pneumonia vaccine will only need to get it once. Others who are high risk may need to get booster jabs every few years.
If youve never had the pneumonia vaccine, and you think you could benefit, you should check to see if youre eligible for it on the NHS. If not, you can book yours with us and have it in your local LloydsPharmacy.
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Lab Tests For Pneumonia
The need for more tests often depends on how severe your symptoms are, your age, and your overall health. In general, the sicker you are, the more tests you may need. This is especially true for older adults and infants. One example of a test you may have is the arterial blood gas test.
Rapid urine test
This test can identify some bacteria that cause pneumonia. This can help guide treatment for pneumonia.
In people who have impaired immune systems, pneumonia may be caused by other organisms, including some forms of fungi, such as Pneumocystis jiroveci . This fungus often causes pneumonia in people who have AIDS. Some doctors may suggest an HIV test if they think that Pneumocystis jiroveci is causing the pneumonia.
Other lung tests
If you have severe pneumonia, you may need other tests, including tests to check for complications and to find out how well your immune system is working.