Pneumonia Can Be Preventedvaccines Can Help
Some patients with coronavirus disease 2019 have had pneumonia. Learn more about COVID-19.
Pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, needlessly affects millions of people worldwide each year.
Pneumonia can often be prevented and can usually be treated.
Lower your risk of pneumonia with vaccines and other healthy living practices.
CDC data showed that in the United States during 2018:
- 1.5 million people were diagnosed with pneumonia in an emergency department
- Approximately 44,000 people died from pneumonia
Most of the people affected by pneumonia in the United States are adults. Vaccines and appropriate treatment could prevent many of these deaths.
Choosing The Right Antibiotic
Dozens of antibiotics are available for treating pneumonia, but selecting the best drug is sometimes difficult. People with pneumonia need an antibiotic that is effective against the organism causing the disease. When the organism is unknown, “empiric therapy” is given, meaning the doctor chooses which antibiotic is likely to work based on factors such as the person’s age, health, and severity of the illness.
In adults, the choice of antibiotic therapy depends on the severity of infection and site of care. In all cases, the more quickly antibiotic therapy is started once the diagnosis is made, the better the outcomes. In most cases, the organism causing the pneumonia will not be known before antibiotic therapy is started, so the doctor must choose an antibiotic regimen based on history and symptoms. Later, the therapy may be altered when more information becomes available. To determine the appropriate antibiotic, the doctor must first answer a number of questions:
Once an antibiotic has been chosen, there are still difficulties:
- Individuals respond differently to the same antibiotic, depending on their age, health, size, and other factors.
- People can be allergic to certain antibiotics, thus requiring alternatives.
- People may have strains of bacteria that are resistant to certain antibiotics.
What Are The Early Symptoms Of Aspiration Pneumonia’
- You may feel generally unwell, with a high temperature , headache, sickness and muscle aches. You might go off your food and lose a little bit of weight.
- A cough is the key feature, sometimes with yellow or green phlegm.
- Your breathing rate and pulse may become rapid.
- Other symptoms you may notice include breathlessness and chest pain which is worse when you breathe in deeply.
- A doctor listening to your chest with a stethoscope might hear that your breathing sounds muffled and that the covering of your lungs makes a sound when you breathe in and out .
- If your chest wall is tapped, the doctor may find an area of dullness.
- Untreated, pneumonia can make you feel very ill. The oxygen you breathe in may have difficulty getting to parts of your body distant from your lungs and may develop a blue tinge.
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How Can I Help Myself Feel Better
If your doctor has prescribed medicine, follow the directions carefully.
You may feel better in a room with a humidifier, which increases the moisture in the air and soothes irritated lungs. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, especially if you have a fever. If you have a fever and feel uncomfortable, ask the doctor whether you can take over-the-counter medicine such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to bring it down. But don’t take any medicine without checking first with your doctor a cough suppressant, for example, may not allow your lungs to clear themselves of mucus.
And finally, be sure to rest. This is a good time to sleep, watch TV, read, and lay low. If you treat your body right, it will repair itself and you’ll be back to normal in no time.
Disease Process Leading To Pneumonia
Pneumonia-causing agents reach the lungs through different routes:
- In most cases, a person breathes in the infectious organism, which then travels through the airways to the lungs.
- Sometimes, the normally harmless bacteria in the mouth, or on items placed in the mouth or swallowed, can enter the lungs. This usually happens if the body’s “gag reflex,” an extreme throat contraction that keeps substances out of the lungs, is not working properly.
- Infections can spread through the bloodstream from other organs to the lungs.
However, in normal situations, the airways protect the lungs from substances that can cause infection.
- The nose filters out large particles.
- If smaller particles pass through, nerves along the airway prompt a cough or sneeze. This forces many particles back out of the body.
- Tiny particles that reach the small tubes in the lungs are trapped in a thick, sticky substance called mucus. The mucus and particles are pushed up and out of the lungs by tiny hair-like cells called cilia, which beat like a drum. This action is called the “mucociliary escalator.”
- If bacteria or other infectious organisms manage to avoid the airway’s defenses, the body’s immune system attacks them. Large white blood cells called macrophages destroy the foreign particles.
The above-mentioned defense systems normally keep the lungs healthy. If these defenses are weakened or damaged, however, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites can easily infect the lungs, producing pneumonia.
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When Should I See My Doctor
Pneumonia can be life-threatening if left untreated, especially for certain at-risk people. You should call your doctor if you have a cough that wont go away, shortness of breath, chest pain, or a fever. You should also call your doctor if you suddenly begin to feel worse after having a cold or the flu.
Preventing The Spread Of Pneumonia
You can help prevent the spread of a pneumonia by taking some simple hygiene precautions.
- washing your hands regularly and thoroughly, particularly after touching your nose and mouth, and before handling food
- coughing and sneezing into a tissue, then throwing it away immediately and washing your hands
- not sharing cups or kitchen utensils with others
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What Are The Symptoms Of Pneumonia In A Child
Symptoms may be a bit different for each child. They may also depend on what is causing the pneumonia. Cases of bacterial pneumonia tend to happen suddenly with these symptoms:
Cough that produces mucus
Early symptoms of viral pneumonia are the same as those of bacterial pneumonia. But with viral pneumonia, the breathing problems happen slowly. Your child may wheeze and the cough may get worse. Viral pneumonia may make a child more at risk for bacterial pneumonia.
In addition to the symptoms listed above, your child may have:
The symptoms of pneumonia may look like other health problems. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
How Can People Protect Themselves Against Pneumonia
In addition to vaccination, you can protect yourself against pneumonia and other respiratory infections by taking the following steps:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
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Can The Pneumonia Vaccine Prevent Pneumonia
It is not possible to prevent all types of pneumonia, but one can take steps to reduce the chance of contracting the condition by quitting smoking, practicing good hand-washing, and avoiding contact with people who have colds, the flu, or other infections.
A vaccine is available against the most common bacterial cause of pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae . There are two types of vaccine: PPSV23 , a pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine against 23 types of the bacteria, and PCV13 , a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine that protects against 13 types of the bacteria. These vaccines may not always prevent pneumococcal pneumonia, but they may prevent serious complications of pneumonia if it does occur.
Avoidance of areas where fungal pathogens are endemic is recommended to prevent fungal pneumonias. There is no antifungal vaccine available however, for some high-risk patients, some doctors have recommended prophylactic antifungal drugs.
Can I Prevent Pneumonia
The routine vaccinations that most people receive as kids help prevent certain types of pneumonia and other infections. If you have a chronic illness, such as sickle cell disease, you may have received extra vaccinations and disease-preventing antibiotics to help prevent pneumonia and other infections caused by bacteria.
People should get a pneumococcal vaccination if they have diseases that affect their immune system , are 65 years or older, or are in other high-risk groups. Depending on the bugs that are likely to affect them, these people also may get antibiotics to prevent pneumonia, as well as antiviral medicine to prevent or lessen the effects of viral pneumonia.
Doctors recommend that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu shot. That’s because someone with the flu could then come down with pneumonia. Call your doctor’s office or check your local health department to see when these vaccines are available.
Because pneumonia is often caused by germs, a good way to prevent it is to keep your distance from anyone you know who has pneumonia or other respiratory infections. Use separate drinking glasses and eating utensils wash your hands often with warm, soapy water and avoid touching used tissues and paper towels.
You also can stay strong and help avoid some of the illnesses that might lead to pneumonia by eating as healthily as possible, getting a minimum of 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night, and not smoking.
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Respiratory And Circulatory Failure
Pneumonia can cause respiratory failure by triggering acute respiratory distress syndrome , which results from a combination of infection and inflammatory response. The lungs quickly fill with fluid and become stiff. This stiffness, combined with severe difficulties extracting oxygen due to the alveolar fluid, may require long periods of mechanical ventilation for survival. Other causes of circulatory failure are hypoxemia, inflammation, and increased coagulability.
is a potential complication of pneumonia but usually occurs in people with poor immunity or hyposplenism. The organisms most commonly involved are Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Klebsiella pneumoniae. Other causes of the symptoms should be considered such as a myocardial infarction or a pulmonary embolism.
Which Children Are At Risk For Pneumonia
A child is more likely to get pneumonia if he or she has:
Weak immune system, such as from cancer
Ongoing health problem, such as asthma or cystic fibrosis
Problems with the lungs or airways
In addition, children younger than 1 year old are at risk if they are around secondhand tobacco smoke. This is especially true if their mother smokes.
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Can Pneumonia Be Prevented Or Avoided
There are many factors that can raise your risk for developing pneumonia. These include:
People who have any of the following conditions are also at increased risk:
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- sickle cell disease
You can help prevent pneumonia by doing the following:
- Get the flu vaccine each year. People can develop bacterial pneumonia after a case of the flu. You can reduce this risk by getting the yearly flu shot.
- Get the pneumococcal vaccine. This helps prevent pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria.
- Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Dont smoke. Smoking damages your lungs and makes it harder for your body to defend itself from germs and disease. If you smoke, talk to your family doctor about quitting as soon as possible.
- Practice a healthy lifestyle. Eat a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables. Exercise regularly. Get plenty of sleep. These things help your immune system stay strong.
- Avoid sick people. Being around people who are sick increases your risk of catching what they have.
Are Side Effects Associated With The Pneumonia Vaccine
Side effects of PCV13 in children include drowsiness, temporary loss of appetite, or redness, swelling, or tenderness where the shot was given. Mild fever and irritability are other common side effects. Adults receiving pneumococcal vaccines have reported pain, redness, rash, and swelling where the shot was given also mild fever, fatigue, headache, chills, or muscle pain.
Any type of vaccine has the potential to cause an allergic reaction, which can be severe, but this side effect is rare. This would happen within minutes to a few hours after receiving the vaccine.
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Is Bacterial Pneumonia Contagious
Whether or not bacterial pneumonia is contagious depends upon the type of bacteria causing the infection. In many cases, people contract pneumonia when bacteria they normally carry in the nose or throat are spread to the lungs. Most kinds of bacterial pneumonia are not highly contagious. However, pneumonia due to Mycoplasma pneumoniae and tuberculosis are exceptions. Both these types of bacterial pneumonia are highly contagious. These are spread among people by breathing in infected droplets that come from coughing or sneezing, similar to the spread of viral infections.
Which Types Of Doctors Treat Pneumonia
In some cases, primary care physicians, including pediatricians, internists, and family medicine specialists, may manage the care for patients with pneumonia. In more severe cases, other types of specialists may be involved in treating the patient with pneumonia. These include infectious-disease specialists, pulmonologists, critical care specialists, and hospitalists.
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Pearls And Other Issues
How Do The Lungs Work
Your lungs main job is to get oxygen into your blood and remove carbon dioxide. This happens during breathing. You breathe 12 to 20 times per minute when you are not sick. When you breathe in, air travels down the back of your throat and passes through your voice box and into your windpipe . Your trachea splits into two air passages . One bronchial tube leads to the left lung, the other to the right lung. For the lungs to perform their best, the airways need to be open as you breathe in and out. Swelling and mucus can make it harder to move air through the airways, making it harder to breathe. This leads to shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and feeling more tired than normal.
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How Can I Help Prevent Pneumonia In My Child
Pneumococcal pneumonia can be prevented with a vaccine that protects against 13 types of pneumococcal pneumonia. Doctors recommend that children get a series of shots beginning at age 2 months. Talk with your childs healthcare provider about this vaccine. Another vaccine is available for children older than 2 years who are at increased risk for pneumonia. Talk with your child’s healthcare to see if it is recommended for your child. Also make sure your child is up-to-date on all vaccines, including the yearly flu shot. Pneumonia can occur after illnesses such as whooping cough and the flu.
You can also help your child prevent pneumonia with good hygiene. Teach your child to cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Your child should also wash their hands often. These measures can help prevent other infections, too.
Your child can be vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia. There are 2 types of vaccines that can help prevent pneumococcal disease. The vaccine that is right for your child depends on their age and risk factors. Talk with your child’s healthcare provider about which vaccine is best for your child and when they should get it.
What Is The Outlook For Pneumonia
People who are otherwise healthy often recover quickly when given prompt and proper care. However, pneumonia is a serious condition and can be life-threatening if left untreated and especially for those individuals at increased risk for pneumonia.
Even patients who have been successfully treated and have fully recovered may face long-term health issues. Children who have recovered from pneumonia have an increased risk of chronic lung diseases. Adults may experience:
- General decline in quality of life for months or years
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Causes And Risk Factors
CausesViruses, bacteria and fungi are the main culprits behind pneumonia. You are likely to catch this infection via droplets which are emitted by an infected person as he coughs and sneezes. Contaminated fomites may also give you pneumonia. You can acquire this infection during a hospital stay while undergoing procedures related to ventilators, or from the people around you. The bacteria that are commonly responsible for this ailment are commonly known as Streptococcus pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Respiratory viruses that could also be the culprits for pneumonia include influenza , respiratory syncytial virus and rhinoviruses . Additionally, fungi from the soil and bird droppings may also lead to pneumonia. Examples of these pathogens are Pneumocystis jirovecii, Cryptococcus species, Histoplasmosis species, etc.Risk factorsHigh-risk groups for pneumonia are as follows:
- People above 65 years of age
- People who have a problem in swallowing
- People with restricted mobility.
How Many Pneumonia Vaccines Do You Need
PCV13 or Prevnar 13, is currently recommended for all children younger than 2 years of age, all adults 65 years of age or older, and people 2-64 years of age with certain medical conditions.
PPSV23 is currently recommended for all adults 65 years of age or older and for people who are 2 years of age or older and at high risk for pneumococcal disease . PPSV23 is also recommended for use in adults 19-64 years of age who smoke cigarettes.
There is no evidence about the safety of PCV13 or PPSV23 vaccine use in pregnancy. Women who need the vaccine should be vaccinated before a pregnancy, if possible.
Some people may be recommended to receive both the PCV13 and PPSV23 vaccines. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two pneumococcal vaccines for all adults 65 years or older. The PCV13 and PPSV23 should not be given at the same time. When both vaccines are recommended, a dose of the PCV13 should be given first, followed by a dose of PPSV23 at another visit to a health care provider.
Seasonal influenza vaccines are available yearly and are recommended to decrease the chance of contracting influenza. Vaccines against the measles virus and varicella virus, two viruses that can also cause pneumonia, are also available. The common side effects of these vaccines are similar to those listed below for the pneumonia vaccine.
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