Avoid Pneumococcal Pneumonia
by Joseph D. Tabora, M.D.
This article starts below.
Pneumonia in the elderly and chronically ill may lead to prolonged hospital and ICU stay. Minimize the risks by getting a pneumococcal vaccine.
Fever, cough and chest pain are the typical symptoms of pneumonia. For adults with no medical problems, pneumonia is usually uncomplicated and can be treated at home with oral antibiotics and a few days rest.
Pneumonia in the elderly and those with medical problems (diabetes, congestive heart failure, emphysema, kidney failure) is not as simple. They require hospitalization (even ICU stay) because of potential complications. The oxygen level in the blood may decrease because of the infection. The muscles used for breathing may become tired causing respiratory failure. The bacteria causing the pneumonia may gain entry to the bloodstream and spread to other organs.
The whole family suffers when the elderly and the chronically ill get pneumonia. The routine activities at home gets disrupted as the family takes care of the hospitalized family member. The family finances, too, may take a beating.
Prevention of pneumonia
The good news is that there is a vaccine for pneumococcal pneumonia. The vaccine provides protection from infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, a common cause of community-acquired pneumonia. The vaccine is not for everybody but those who need it should get it.
Who should get the vaccine
Get the vaccine if you are 50 years of age and older AND/OR you have chronic diseases of the lungs, heart kidney, diabetes mellitus. You may get the vaccine any time of the year. You may also get the pneumococcal vaccine at the same time you get the flu vaccine.
Move it! Move it!
An article from the Mayo Clinic said that underimmunization is prevalent. It could be due to lack of knowledge. This article hopes to fill the gap in your knowledge and motivate you to get the vaccine for yourself and your family members who are at risk.