Pneumonia or pneumococcal disease is a type of infection, which causes inflammation of the air sacs of one or both of your lungs. When suffering from this disease, the air sacs of the lungs generally fill up with pus or fluid, which, sometimes, causes difficulty breathing and cough with phlegm. There are numerous types of microorganisms, such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses, which can cause this potentially life-threatening infection. Pneumonia is generally more common in children. However, this disease can also affect adults and lead to stressful situations. Nevertheless, if you take your pneumonia vaccine at the right time, then you would be fine in no time.
But, before going into the details of the vaccine, you would first need to know about the disease itself. Otherwise, it will be difficult for you to detect your symptoms, which ultimately may lead to other complications.
Causes of Pneumonia
Mainly some of the bacteria and viruses are responsible for causing pneumococcal disease. However, there are also some of the other factors, which can cause this deadly infection. Here are some of them.
Pneumonia Caused by Microorganisms
Here are some of the types of microorganisms, which can potentially cause pneumonia in human beings.
- Bacteria: The most common cause of pneumococcal disease is a bacterium called Streptococcus pneumonia. This type of pneumonia generally occurs after you have had a bout of flu or cold. It often affects one side of the lung, called lobar pneumonia, but can occur on both sides too.
- Viruses: Numerous viruses, which are commonly responsible for causing cold or flu, can sometimes also cause pneumonia. However, the virus-caused pneumonia is generally prevalent among the children. It also does not usually lead to life-threatening conditions and can easily be treated with the pneumonia vaccine.
- Fungi: This type of pneumonia commonly occurs in the people who are old or are suffering from any chronic disease. The fungi, which can cause pneumonia in humans, are generally found in bird droppings and soils.
Apart from the microorganisms, numerous other factors can, too, cause pneumonia. Here are some of them.
- Smoking: Smoking cigarettes generally damages your body’s natural defense system. Therefore, if you are an avid smoker and smoke every day, then you are more likely to be affected by pneumonia than the people who usually do not smoke.
- Chronic Diseases: If you are suffering from any chronic disease, which can potentially affect your immune system or the health of your lungs, then you can also get affected by pneumonia. People who are suffering from asthma, heart disease, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, are at a higher risk of getting affected by pneumonia.
- Weakened Immunity System: People, who are suffering from AIDS or recently had an organ transplant, are generally at a higher risk of developing pneumonia than the other people.
These are some of the prime causes and risk factors of the pneumococcal disease that you should always be aware of.
Symptoms of Pneumonia
Like any other disease, pneumonia, too, comes with a few significant symptoms. Therefore, if you have a precise knowledge of them, then it would be easier for you to understand your issues and take the pneumonia vaccine at the right time. Here are some of the most common symptoms of pneumococcal disease.
- Shortness of Breath: This is one of the most common symptoms of this ailment. As the air sacs in your lungs get filled with fluid in this disease, it becomes more difficult for them to contain air. This situation generally leads to shortness of breath or suffocation.
- Fever: Fever is a common symptom of any infection. Thus, as pneumonia is a type of infection, it also sometimes causes fever with chills.
- Cough: Along with shortness of breath, the pneumococcal disease also causes a lot of coughing with pus or phlegm. If a person’s illness has advanced to a later stage, then blood may also appear in the cough.
- Chest Pain: Apart from coughing, pneumonia also causes chest pain. This issue generally occurs when you are breathing deeply or coughing.
- Fatigue: Pneumonia generally causes a lot of coughing and, sometimes, vomiting. These issues cause fatigue, typically in patients.
- Nausea or Vomiting: Nausea is yet another common symptom of the pneumococcal disease. Aside from nausea, many people also encounter frequent vomiting when suffering from this disease. Sometimes, with vomiting, diarrhea may also occur, but it is generally one of the rarest symptoms of this disease.
- Confusion: This symptom generally occurs when the infection has spread out of your lungs to your brain. It is more common among adults, especially those who are older than 60 years of age.
- Loss of Appetite: Because of frequent vomiting and extreme coughing, many patients also lose the will to eat anything.
What to do?
So, these are some of the most common signs of pneumococcal disease. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then make sure to contact your doctor as soon as possible to get yourself diagnosed. Pneumonia can, quite comfortably, be treated with a pneumonia vaccine. So, make sure to take your dose as soon as possible.
Pneumonia: Diagnostic Procedures
Before treating you with the doses of the pneumonia vaccines, your doctor will, first, try to determine the actual cause of your issue. To do this, he or she will ask you for several tests. Here are some of them.
- Blood Test: This one is the most common test that most doctors usually ask their patients to do. It generally helps the doctors to know about the microorganism that is currently causing your issues. However, only blood tests cannot help your doctor to know about the precise reason for your infection.
- Chest X-ray: It can help your doctor to diagnose the disease and find the proper location of the infection. Nevertheless, with this test only, it becomes quite difficult for the physician to determine the microorganism that is causing the issue.
- Sputum Test: For doing this test, your doctor will take a small amount of fluid from your lungs, also known as sputum. This is yet another test that can help him or her to know about the type of organism.
- CT scan: If you are more than 65 years of old and your disease is not clearing as quickly as your doctor thought, then he might also ask you to go for a CT scan. This will help him to see a more detailed version of your lungs and determine your issue more quickly.
- Pulse Oximetry: Pneumonia can restrict the ability of your lungs to take or supplying enough oxygen through your bloodstream. Due to this reason, doctors usually also ask their patients to do this test to determine the severity of the disease.
Hence, these are some of the diagnostic tests that you might have to undergo before your doctor suggests you to take a particular type of pneumonia vaccine.
What are the Types of Pneumonia or Pneumococcal Vaccines?
There are generally two types of vaccines for pneumonia, which the doctors usually use to treat their patients. Apart from treating, they also use these medications to prevent the disease from occurring again. Here is what you need to know about the types of the pneumonia vaccine.
The doctors usually use PCV13 to treat the children with pneumonia who are aged two years or less. Besides the otherwise healthy infants, this medicine is also used for those children who are suffering from certain other health conditions.
Apart from the children, the older adults can, too, take this type of medicine for their cause. However, before using them, they would have to talk with their doctor and decide if this medicine is ideal for them or not.
The doctors and physicians generally do not recommend this type of pneumonia vaccine for babies. They usually suggest this medicine to those people who are more than 65 years old. However, doctors also use this medicine to treat smokers who are aged 19 to 64 years old.
However, the people, who have life-threatening allergy issues, are generally told to avoid this vaccine.
Who Should Get These Pneumococcal Vaccines?
The physicians generally recommend the previously-mentioned vaccines for almost all the children who are younger than one and a half years. Apart from this, they also suggest the people take the pneumonia vaccine who are aged 65 or older and are at a higher risk of developing this disease. Among the two different types of vaccines, PPSV23 is also used for smokers that are at a higher risk of developing pneumonia.
Who Should Not Get These Pneumococcal Vaccines?
Due to specific health conditions or aging factors, the doctors generally ask some patients not to take the vaccinations. Here is what you need to know about this aspect.
Before taking this vaccine, make sure to tell your doctor if you or your child has these kinds of issues.
- If he or she has severe allergic issues, which can lead to life-threatening conditions
- If he or she is suffering from any severe ailments
Children, especially who are younger than two years of age, should never get this type of pneumonia vaccine. Additionally, if you have these following conditions, then make sure to tell them to your physician before taking this medication.
- You are at a later stage of your pregnancy
- You are suffering from any severe diseases, such as heart and liver conditions
- And you are allergic to some particular components of PPSV23
What are the Side Effects of these Pneumococcal Vaccines?
Most people generally do not feel any issues after taking the pneumococcal vaccines. However, still, there is a chance of side effects that might arise if you are taking them for a long time. Nevertheless, most of the time, the side effects of the medicines are quite mild and do not cause any significant issues. But, if the problematic symptoms stay for more than a week, then it would be better for you to talk with your doctor.
Here are some of the pneumonia vaccine side effects that every person should know about.
- Allergy, redness, and swelling in a few particular parts of your body
- Unnoticeable to moderate headaches
- High fever and chills
- A sudden feeling of irritation
- Loss of hunger or appetite
- A feeling of tiredness
- Muscle and joint pain
- A slight sense of dizziness
- The sensation of ringing inside of your ears
So, these are some of the mild side effects that you might encounter after taking a dose of the pneumococcal vaccines.
Questions That Might Arise in Your Mind about the Pneumococcal Vaccines
- How many times should a person take the vaccines to prevent pneumonia?
The children, who are younger than two years, usually require four shots of pneumococcal vaccines to get immunized against pneumonia. However, the elders, who are aged more than 65 years, generally do not require more than two shots.
- Who is eligible for pneumonia vaccines?
Almost everyone who does not have any allergic issues or is suffering from any severe illnesses is eligible for taking pneumonia vaccines.
- How much does a pneumonia vaccine cost?
The cost of a pneumococcal vaccine generally depends on the region where you are living currently. However, in India, the price range stays between 1600 INR to 3200 INR.
- How long should I wait before taking my second pneumococcal vaccine?
After taking the first dose, you should wait for at least a whole month before taking the second dose. If you take the doses more frequently, then numerous complications might arise.
- What is the most common side effect of pneumococcal vaccines?
The most common side effect of a pneumococcal vaccine is an allergy. However, many people also encounter muscle aches after taking their first dose of medication.
- Do I need to show a prescription for getting pneumonia shots?
Most of the clinics generally do not ask for any prescriptions for giving pneumonia vaccines. However, it is better to provide them an order if you have any allergic reactions to any of the components of the vaccines.