Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages and is the leading cause of death in children 5 years and younger worldwide. Pneumonia symptoms include cough, fever, and difficulty breathing.
Those who smoke, have underlying medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease, children younger than 5 years of age and adults 65 years of age or older — are at greater risk of becoming ill with pneumonia.
You can decrease your risk of getting pneumonia and other respiratory infections by following good hygiene practices — such as washing your hands regularly and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
Those with underlying medical conditions can better avoid becoming ill with pneumonia by taking proper care of medical problems and quitting smoking.
Vaccinations are the best way of preventing infections.
Pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics, antivirals or other specific drug therapies, depending on the type and severity of the illness.
Pneumonia can be caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Common causes of viral pneumonia are influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). A common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). Being on a ventilator can also be a cause of pneumonia, this is known as ventilator-associated pneumonia.
Some less common causes of pneumonia include:
Pneumococcal vaccines guard against the most common cause of pneumonia in the United States — pneumococcal bacteria. These same bacteria can also cause bacteremia (a blood infection) or meningitis (infection of the covering around the brain and spinal cord). There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines available, PCV13 and PPSV23 — your VaxOn Pharmacist or physician can determine if and when one, or both, of these vaccines is needed. While receiving the pneumococcal vaccine(s) is the best way to prevent pneumonia, it cannot deter every single case of pneumonia. But shielded with it, you are likely to have a milder case and fewer major complications.
In addition to the pneumococcal vaccine(s), there are several other immunizations that prevent infection by bacteria or viruses that may cause pneumonia. These vaccines include:
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib),
- pertussis (whooping cough),
- varicella (chickenpox),
- influenza (flu)
Your VaxON pharmacist has all the information you need on these other vaccinations and can immunize you.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that all people aged 2 and older with diabetes get the PPSV23 pneumococcal vaccine. Most people only need one shot until age 64 as the protection lasts for years. At age 65 or older, you may need additional pneumococcal vaccinations. Ask your VaxOn pharmacist if you are properly up to date.