What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a disease that can be life threatening if not prevented or treated. It mainly affects the lungs which can then affect a person breathing. Pneumonia is an infection that leads to inflamed air sacs in one or both lungs. Infections can be bacterial, viral, or fungal. Community-acquired pneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia. It is acquired outside of hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Pneumonia is most severe in children and patients who are greater than 65 years old.
What are the symptoms?
People can experience cough, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing. If left untreated, pneumonia can cause organ failure and lung damage. It can also affect the heart and increase heart rate as a result. It affects muscles which leads to muscle pain and weakness. It can affect your gastric system which can then cause nausea and vomiting. It affects the central system which can lead to headaches and mood swings.
Treatment of pneumonia
Taking the pneumonia vaccine can prevent getting the disease. The vaccine has proven to save lives. It reduced hospitalization rates as well as decreased deaths for children by 250,000 in the past decade. If an individual has pneumonia, the main goal is to treat the infection that is causing the disease. Patients who have mild pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics and pain relieving medication. These antibiotics are usually taken for 5-7 days for uncomplicated pneumonia. The drugs that should be taken in patients with CAP are amoxicillin, a macrolide (azithromycin or clarithromycin), or doxycycline. Patients who have a more severe case of pneumonia may need to be hospitalized. If the case is severe enough, the patient may be admitted into the intensive care unit and may be placed on mechanical ventilation.
When to see a doctor?
Patients who have certain conditions should see a doctor if they have chest pain, difficulty breathing, a fever of 102 degrees fahrenheit or higher, or a productive cough. This is more important in patients who have certain risk factors including patients who are 65 years old or older, children who are 2 years old or younger, patients with a compromised immune system, or patients who are taking medication that are suppressing their immune system.
Pneumonia antiviral drugs
Many patients with pneumonia may be taking antibiotics, cough medication, and fever and pain reducers. Some antiviral drugs that can be taken in patients with pneumonia are ribavirin, amantadine, interferon alpha, and acyclovir.
The two kinds of pneumonia vaccines are pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV13, PCV15, and PCV20) and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23). It is recommended that children less than five years old and adults 65 years old or older should take the vaccine. The vaccine differs in the amount of types of pneumococcal bacteria that they defend against. For example, PCV13 defends against 13 types of bacteria. It is recommended that all children who are younger than two years old take PCV 13 or PCV 15. Infants should take 4 doses. One at 2 months, one at 4 months, one at 6 months, and one at 12 through 15 months. It is recommended that patients who are 65 years old or older take PCV 15 or PCV 20. For these adults, after they take PCV15, they should take 1 dose of PPSV23 1 year later. The minimum time in between these 2 doses should be 8 weeks.
Importance of pneumococcal vaccine
The pneumococcal vaccine is important because pneumonia vaccination can help you prevent getting pneumonia. The pneumonia vaccine prevents millions of people from getting the respiratory illness and saves lives. It can also help people from getting hospitalized. From 2000-2015, vaccination prevented an estimated 250,000 child deaths. Pneumonia vaccination helps decrease the risk of getting hospitalized due to pneumonia, especially with people who have a preexisting respiratory illness. Some risk factors for pneumonia include smoking, chronic drinking, weakened immune system, older than 65 years old, and children less than 2 years old.
- What is the age limit pneumococcal vaccine?
- CDC recommend all children under 5 to take it as well as adults over 65
- How often should you get the vaccine?
- If it’s your first time getting the vaccine at 65 then you get two shots, one year apart
- Are there any side effects of getting the vaccine?
- Patients may experience soreness and redness, where the shot was given. They also may experience loss of appetite and muscle pain
- Does the vaccine help with COVID?
- No, it does not protect one from getting COVID. It also does not make a patient more prone to getting COVID either.
PharmD Candidate 2025
Philadelphia College of Pharmacy
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, June 13). Pneumonia. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved October 26, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pneumonia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354204
- Pneumonia symptoms and diagnosis. American Lung Association. (n.d.). Retrieved October 26, 2022, from https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/pneumonia/symptoms-and-diagnosis
- Pneumonia. Pneumonia | Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved October 26, 2022, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/pneumonia