Most people associate getting a cold, the flu or even pneumococcal pneumonia with winter weather, but while there may be an uptick in cases during the cold, wet months—it is still possible to be sidelined with a respiratory infection during the summer months. In fact, pneumococcal pneumonia can occur any time of the year. It can strike anywhere, anytime and may start quickly with little warning.
While pneumonia always refers to an infection of the lungs, there are many different types. The most common type of bacterial pneumonia is called pneumococcal pneumonia. It’s an illness that is caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, a common bacteria that can be spread from person to person through a cough or close contact. Once these bacteria invade the lungs and bloodstream, they may cause serious illness. These bacteria can cause part of the lung to become inflamed and fill up with mucus, making it harder to breathe. Symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia can come on quickly, and may include:
Chest pain from difficulty breathing or coughing
A cough with phlegm that persists or gets worse
A high fever, shaking chills
Certain symptoms, like cough and fatigue, can last for weeks or longer, and can even put you in the hospital. Age alone increases the risk of pneumococcal pneumonia for the more than 47 million Americans over the age of 65. But the risks are even higher, as compared to healthy adults 65 and older, if you have a chronic lung disease:
3.8 million adults are at 7.7 times greater risk due to COPD
3.5 million adults are at 5.9 times greater risk due to asthma
4.2 million adults are at 3.9 times greater risk due to smoking
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends pneumococcal vaccination for adults over the age of 65, and Medicare covers administration of pneumococcal vaccines for adults 65 and older with $0 in out-of-pocket costs. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 goal for any pneumococcal vaccination for adults 65 and older is 90 percent, but rates are only around 56 percent—well below the national goal.
Don’t let pneumococcal pneumonia catch you off guard—this summer, or any time of the year. Learn more about your risk for pneumococcal pneumonia through our quiz at Lung.org/pneumococcal and talk to your doctor to see if you are up-to-date on your vaccinations.
Content was developed in partnership with Pfizer Inc.
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