What Is Pneumococcal Pneumonia?


Quick Answer

Pneumococcal pneumonia is inflammation in the alveoli, or air sacs, of the lung caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, reports MedicineNet. People who are younger than 5 years old, older than 65 years old or are affected by certain chronic medical conditions have an increased risk of contracting pneumococcal pneumonia.

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The symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia include muscle aches, nausea, headache, vomiting and tiredness as well as cough, high fever, chest pains, rapid breathing and shortness of breath, notes MedicineNet. The disease can have a rapid onset, which is sometimes characterized by shaking and chills. Doctors prescribe antibiotics to treat pneumococcal pneumonia, and patients generally experience symptom relief within 12 to 36 hours. Prompt treatment is critical because the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause bacteremia, which occurs in 30 percent of the patients and can cause additional problems with the lungs and heart.

Some strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae are antibiotic-resistant, which makes prevention paramount for at-risk patients, explains MedicineNet. The Centers for Disease Control advises patients who have a high risk of contracting the disease to get the pneumococcal vaccine. The CDC also recommends the vaccine to patients who have an increased risk of complication from the disease. These patients include people with chronic heart, liver and lung disease, diabetes or with compromised immune systems, such as those with human immunodeficiency virus, cancer, bone marrow or organ transplants and those who have undergone a splenectomy.

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