Streptococcus Pneumoniae: Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

Streptococcus Pneumoniae: Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

Streptococcus Pneumoniae also referred to as pneumococcus is responsible for the maximum types of pneumonia in human beings. The infection that this bacterium causes could be dangerous and could pave way for a variety of life-threatening diseases. This section deals with what streptococcus pneumonia is, the symptoms of it, where they are found, how are they transmitted and everything else a person needs to be aware of about it.

What is Streptococcus Pneumoniae?

Streptococcus Pneumoniae is a beta-hemolytic, or alpha-hemolytic, gram-positive bacterium. It resides in the human body mainly in the sinuses, nasal cavity and respiratory tract. It does not harm the human body and benefits from it. However, in people who have a weak immune system, this bacterium becomes a pathogen and hence creates and spreads various diseases by spreading to various other locations of the body. People such as young children, elderly people and other people who have a weak immune system due to various factors are at risk.

There are various infections and diseases that this bacterium can cause to the human body. It is the main source of meningitis and pneumonia in elderly people and children. It can also pave the way to various other diseases such as sepsis, acute sinusitis, otitis media, rhinitis, bronchitis, conjunctivitis, osteomyelitis, septic arthritis, brain abscess, cellulitis, endocarditis and peritonitis amongst others.

The pneumococcus diseases are contagious in nature and can spread from a person to another. The carriers of this bacterium are respiratory droplets and can also be spread through autoinoculation.

Where is Streptococcus Pneumoniae found?

The streptococcus bacterium already exists in the human body. Although it benefits from it, it does not generally cause any harm to the human body. This stands true until and unless the immune system of a person is extremely or considerably weak than others. One of the most common questions to be asked is where is Streptococcus Pneumoniae found. Hence, these kinds of bacterium are mostly found in the nose, skin, and throat of a person. It is found mainly in the nasopharynx of the nasal passages upper respiratory tract of all human beings all over the world.

Streptococcus pneumoniae symptoms?

Streptococcus pneumonia paves the way to a lot of pneumococcal diseases in people that have very low immune systems, children and elderly people. These diseases are contagious and can spread from a person to another. Along with that, it could also be life-threatening. Therefore, it is recommended to watch out for the symptoms of pneumococcal disease. The infections of the pneumococcal disease mostly happen around the sinuses, bloodstream, lungs, middle ear and meninges which is the lining of the spinal cord and brain which ultimately results in meningitis.

Hence, to mention a few of the streptococcus pneumoniae symptoms are:

  • Cough
  • Chills and fever
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Pain in the chest
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Low alertness
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Increased heart rate
  • A sensation of cold and/or shivering and shaking
  • Discomfort and pain
  • Sweaty skin
  • Short breath
  • Sleepiness
  • Ear pain
  • The swollen or red eardrum
  • Bloodstained sputum
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness

What is the Pneumococcal disease?

The term Pneumococcus disease refers to a life-threatening and contagious disease that occurs as a result of Streptococcus pneumonia bacteria. The pneumococcus disease has the capacity to hamper our bloodstream, fluids, lungs, and tissues which surrounds the brain and the spinal cord. Some of the diseases that follow the pneumococcus disease are sinus infections, infections of the middle ear, meningitis, pneumonia, bloodstream infection, or more.

Although the Streptococcus pneumonia bacteria lives and benefits from the body of human beings, there are some people who stay at higher risk of catching an infection through the bacteria whereas some don’t. This is because the immune systems of these human beings are low or weak in comparison to others.

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Hence, the people who are at greater risk of catching a pneumococcal disease are:

  • Children below 2 years old.
  • People who have a weak immune systems for several factors.
  • People who are heavy smokers.
  • Adults above 65 years old.
  • The people who are heavy drinkers.
  • The people who have gone through a recent surgery or serious illness.

Some of the symptoms that the Pneumococcus disease contains are:

  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Ear pain
  • Cough
  • Confusion
  • Fever and chills
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sleepiness

What is the Streptococcus pneumoniae transmission process?

The bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae lives in the body of human beings and benefits from it. It does not, however, cause any damage or illness to the human body unless the immune system of the person is very weak. In certain exceptional cases, these bacteria can pave the way to certain life-threatening diseases, which is referred to as pneumococcal disease.

Pneumococcal disease is a life-threatening disease especially for people who are above 65 years of age. To add to that, this disease is extremely contagious in nature. Therefore one of the common questions that are asked by people related to this disease is the Streptococcus pneumoniae transmission process or how this bacterium is spread.

The pneumococcus bacteria are extremely contagious in nature and spreads from one to another. These bacteria could be spread through respiratory droplets and certain respiratory secretions like saliva or mucus of the infected person. This bacterium spreads through the air. Hence, coming in contact with the air where the infected person has sneezed or coughed can spread the disease. It is also spread through autoinoculation by the person who has this bacterium present in their upper respiratory tract.

There are many people, especially children who serve as ‘carriage’ as termed by the doctors. This is because they carry the bacteria in their throat and their nose without being ill.

People who have a strong immune system can, however, prevent the bacteria from spreading to any other parts of the body and therefore shows no signs or symptoms of the disease. However, the people who have weak immune systems get affected. In those cases, these bacteria can spread from the throat to the middle ear, sinus, lungs, brain or blood and can cause serious life-threatening disease and infection.

Who is at greater risk of getting a pneumococcal disease?

The Streptococcus pneumoniae is found and survives at the nose, skin, throat and nasal cavity more precisely the nasopharynx of a person. Although it does not cause any harm to the human body, this bacterium is known to pave the way for various diseases in the people who have weak immune systems. Therefore, certain people are at risk and should watch out for the symptoms of it.

Hence, the groups of people who are at more risk of getting pneumococcal diseases are:

People above 65 years old

The effectiveness of the immune system of the person begins to diminish as the person starts to age. As an effect of which, the immune system of the elderly people the system has fewer chances to protect the body and battle probable infections or diseases.  Hence, elderly people are more prone to be getting several forms of pneumococcal diseases.

Infants and toddlers

The infants or children below the age of 2 years are at more risk of getting pneumococcal disease. This is since the immunity that their body has is lesser than that of a mature person.

Alcoholics

The people who consume alcohol on a regular basis and heavily tend to have an immune system that is weaker when compared to the people who don’t. They become more prone to having pneumococcal disease. This happens as our white blood cells, the fighters and protectors of illnesses, fails to effectively perform their function.

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After surgery or serious illness

People who are fighting serious illness or have had recent serious surgery are more prone to getting infected with pneumonia. This is because their immune system weakens in comparison to others.

Chain smokers

There are people who smoke regularly have a weaker immune system in comparison to others who don’t. Therefore, these people contain less resistance when it comes to infections compared to individuals who don’t. It happens mainly for the reason that smoking heavily has a tendency to harm the tiny hair that is present inside our lungs. The main function of these hairs is to prevent the human body against various diseases or infections. They perform this function by filtering the germs. Since heavy smoking damages these, a person has more chance to get pneumococcal infections.

People with a weak immune system

There could be a lot of things that can lead to the immune system of a person to diminish or get weak. For instance, various diseases like asthma, heart diseases, emphysema, AIDS or HIV, diabetes and COPD amongst others can weaken the immune system of a person if it affects them. Other instances where the immune system can get weak or lose its efficiency are when the person has had an organ transplant or is going through radiation or chemotherapy amongst others. Hence, as the immune system of the person starts to lose its efficiency, the person affected becomes more susceptible to catch a pneumococcal disease.

How can Streptococcus pneumonia be prevented?

Prevention of a person from the bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae is getting them vaccinated with a vaccine which is known as Pneumonia vaccine. This kind of vaccine is recommended to children below 2 years of age, adults above 65 years of age and everyone else who have weak immune systems.

Taking a pneumonia vaccine shot helps to prevent the harmful, life-threatening and contagious pneumococcal disease that this bacteria cause. It thus also helps in preventing a person from all the other diseases that follow pneumococcal diseases.

There are two kinds of pneumonia vaccines available that helps to prevent Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. They are:

  • Conjugate pneumococcal vaccine or PCV13: The PCV13 vaccine shot or the conjugate pneumococcal vaccine shot helps to protect a person from 13 strains of the pneumococcal bacteria.
  • Polysaccharide pneumococcal vaccine or Pneumovax 23 or PPV23: The PPSV23 shot or the Polysaccharide pneumococcal vaccine or Pneumovax 23 shot helps to protect a person from 23 strains of the pneumococcal bacteria.

What is the treatment for Streptococcus pneumonia?

The treatment of the pneumococcal disease that is caused by the Streptococcus bacteria is the consumption of antibiotics. Although there are many kinds of bacteria that cause pneumococcal diseases that have become resistant to many kinds of antibiotics that treat them. This is referred to as antibiotic resistance. In these cases, the doctors might also suggest a combination of antibiotics for treating the disease.

Hence, treating pneumococcal disease include using a broad-spectrum antibiotic. The broad-spectrum antibiotic works towards preventing a wide range of bacteria. As the minute detail of the bacteria that mostly refers to its sensitivity is known, it becomes easier to direct the antibiotics to heal it. Many pneumococcal diseases like otitis media, bronchitis, trachea bronchitis, sinusitis, and conjunctivitis are mainly treated using antibiotics.

However, there might also be people who would not require any treatment or consumption of any antibiotic. This happens in cases where the person is suffering from a mild pneumonia infection.

Final thoughts

Although Streptococcus pneumonia bacteria lives and benefits from the body of human beings, it could be extremely harmful to the people who have weak immune systems and get affected with it. Therefore, all these people must identify themselves and consult the doctor to get a pneumonia vaccine shot to help prevent them from getting infections.

However, in case a person is already affected, he must consult the doctor and get the necessary antibiotics that are required to take down the infection or disease that the bacterium has caused.

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