Streptococcus pneumonia is a type of highly contagious respiratory infection. It is caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae, a widespread pathogen that can also cause sinusitis, ear infections, and other health complications. The condition is most commonly seen in young children, elderly people, and adults with weakened immune systems. The symptoms associated with streptococcus pneumonia can become life-threatening if the condition is not diagnosed and treated. With prompt antibiotic treatment, however, most patients experience full recoveries in two to four weeks.
Most strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae are relatively weak, and they usually do not cause problems for healthy people. Children and the elderly are at an increased risk of developing Streptococcus pneumonia since their immune systems are less capable of fighting off even weak bacteria. Immune system-compromising disorders such as HIV, cancer, and malnutrition increase the likelihood of infection since the body's defenses are unable to combat bacteria.
Pathogens that enter the nose and mouth quickly migrate to the lungs, where they embed within tissue and cause inflammation. The first signs of streptococcus pneumonia may include a worsening cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Fever and chills tend to set in during the first or second day of an active infection, and a person may also suffer from headaches, excessive sweating, and chest pains. An untreated case streptococcus pneumonia can cause permanent lung damage and possibly induce respiratory failure.
It is important to seek medical care whenever breathing problems and flu-like symptoms become severe. A doctor can check for streptococcus pneumonia by evaluating physical symptoms, testing blood samples, and taking imaging scans of the lungs. After assessing the stage and severity of an infection, the doctor can discuss treatment options.
Most cases of streptococcus pneumonia can be cured with rest and prescription oral antibiotics. Patients are generally instructed to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and help ease chronic coughing. A doctor may also suggest over-the-counter pain relievers if chest and head pains cause severe discomfort.
Hospitalization may be necessary if a patient is experiencing serious complications. Oxygen therapy is needed when breathing is dangerously shallow. A patient usually receives intravenous antibiotics, fluids, and nutrients. Doctors and nurses carefully monitor symptoms for several days to make sure that the infection clears up and that the lungs are not severely damaged. Patients who make it out of the acute phase of infection are prescribed antibiotics and allowed to go home to rest.