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Pneumococcal disease: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About pneumococcal disease

Pneumococcal disease is a term used for various community-acquired diseases caused by bacteria, Streptococcus pneumoniae. This offending micro-organism causes serious illness in different parts of the body resulting in pneumonia, bacteraemia, meningitis, ear infection.

Pneumococcal disease: Incidence, age and sex

Pneumococcal disease is prevalent all over the world. It is seen in both children and adults with no specific affinity to men or women or any race.

Signs and symptoms of pneumococcal disease: Diagnosis

The primary clinical features of pneumococcal disease include fever, chills, malaise and headache. Other signs and symptoms according to the body system afflicted may also be present. In lung disease, there may be breathing problems associated with cough. Pneumococcal disease affecting the brain may present with nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, irritability and even coma. Individuals with pneumococcal ear infection may exhibit earache and decreased hearing.

The diagnosis of pneumococcal disease is established by means of a detailed physical examination by an experienced physician. Investigations like x-ray of the chest, culture and microscopic examination of sputum or CSF (according to the organ affected) may help in establishing the diagnosis.

Causes and prevention of pneumococcal disease

The cause of pneumococcal disease is pneumococcal bacteria which has almost 90 strains, of which Streptococcus pneumoniae is the commonest.

Prevention of pneumococcal disease may be done with appropriate vaccination. Although there is no vaccine that can control all the different strains of pneumococcal bacteria, but commonly infecting pneumococcal bacteria may be prevented. Since it is a contagious disease, care must be taken to avoid exposure to infected persons. Affected individuals must always cover his/her mouth while sneezing or coughing.

Pneumococcal disease: Complications

Pneumococcal disease may cause weakness and the person may not be able to attend school or work due to illness. The daily routine gets hampered unless the disease is treated. Sometimes, the condition may deteriorate and require immediate hospitalization.

Pneumococcal disease: Treatment

Pneumococcal disease is a contagious bacterial infection which if detected early, needs only oral antibiotics along with symptomatic treatment. In serious conditions, intravenous administration of antibiotics may be needed. Symptomatic treatment includes anti-pyretic medications for fever and analgesic medications for pain. Within a community, its members may be given regular vaccinations to prevent the spread of the infection.