Pneumococcus, often known as Streptococcus pneumoniae, is a bacteria that lives in the upper respiratory tract of humans. Children under the age of five and people over the age of 65 are particularly vulnerable. While sinusitis and otitis media are typical mild infections, certain people’s conditions can quickly progress and lead to more dangerous illnesses such bacteremic pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis. Since pneumococcus medication resistance is on the rise, it’s more crucial than ever to stay attentive when it comes to preventing pneumococcal infections.
Causes of Pneumococcus
Pneumococcus can live in the nose and throat, as well as other organs of the human upper respiratory system. Even healthy persons might be carriers without presenting any signs or symptoms. Pneumococcus can be transferred via coughing and sneezing droplets or by coming into contact with respiratory secretions. Because of their weakened immunity and increased vulnerability to pneumococcal invasion, children under the age of five and the elderly over the age of 65 are at significant risk.
People who have had invasive pneumococcal infections in the past, people with low immunity (such as cancer patients, HIV patients, or those who have had a splenectomy), patients with chronic diseases (such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease), and people with cochlear implants are all high-risk individuals who are more susceptible to pneumococcal infections.
Symptoms of Pneumococcus
Pneumococcal infections include symptoms that are similar to those produced by influenza viruses, such as fever and cough in the upper respiratory tract. Specific symptoms, on the other hand, depends on the site of infection.
Otitis media: Fever and earache, sometimes with discharge.
Pneumonia: Fever, shortness of breath, chills, and a “wet” cough involving phlegm.
Meningitis: Fever, stiff neck, and delirium.
Bacteraemia and septicaemia: Joint pain and chills. Other areas of the body may get infected at the same time, resulting in pneumonia, meningitis, and other complications.
Being vaccinated with pneumococcal vaccines is a safer and more efficient way to prevent pneumococcal infections nowadays. Currently, vaccines that are 13-valent (for 13 serotypes) and 23-valent (for 23 serotypes) are more widely available. 13-valent immunizations are recommended for those aged 6 months to 17 years and over 50 years old, whereas 23-valent vaccines are recommended for high-risk individuals aged 2 and up. Although the 23-valent pneumococcal vaccine and the influenza vaccine can both be given at the same time, the injections should be administered in different areas of the body.
It is vital to build up good body immunity in addition to being vaccinated with preventive vaccinations. It’s very crucial to eat a well-balanced diet, exercise moderately, and get enough sleep. Make sure to maintain good personal hygiene and a clean surroundings. When sneezing or coughing, remember to cover your nose and mouth and wash your hands frequently.