Streptococcus pneumoniae is a type of bacteria responsible for causing pneumococcal disease. Infections by this type of bacteria result in a number of illnesses including pneumonia, meningitis, ear and sinus infections and bacteremia. The bacteria is typically spread via close contact with an infected person as well as through coughing, sneezing, and generally poor hygiene.
Symptoms of pneumococcal disease differ depending on the location of the infection. Find out more about the general penumococcal disease and the bacteria which causes it by clicking here. Some types of infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae include:
Pneumonia: Pneumonia is the condition that results from Streptococcus pneumoniae infecting the lungs. This causes the lungs to become inflamed. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, and nausea. Pneumonia varies in severity. Sometimes it can be treated at home with medication and rest, though other people may require hospitalization. Elderly people are at a particularly high risk of serious complications and even death from pneumonia.
Meningitis: Meningitis refers to the infection and inflammation of the fluids surrounding the spinal column and brain. The Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria are capable of such infections. Bacterial meningitis is considered a serious condition and can be life-threatening within days if left untreated, particularly in young children who are less able to vocalize their symptoms. Symptoms include a severe headache, stiff neck, high fever, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, confusion, sleepiness and sometimes a skin rash. Infants may display these symptoms too, in addition to constant crying, lack of appetite and a bulge on the top of the head. Read more by clicking here.
Bacteremia: Also known as septicemia, bacteremia refers to a bacterial infection of the bloodstream. It typically shows symptoms such as chills, fever, very fast breathing and high heart rate. Confusion, vomiting, reduced urine, red dots on the skin and low blood flow may occur later. When Streptococcus pneumoniae infects the bloodstream, this can lead to serious complications as blood is present all over the body. One of the most serious effects of bacteremia is sepsis. Sepsis occurs when the body responds widely and intensely to a blood infection, leading to extremely high fever, body-wide inflammation, subsequent organ failure and low blood pressure. When all of the aforementioned symptoms are present, it is known as septic shock, which is highly fatal. Subsequently, bacteremia is considered quite serious, and it’s important to treat it as quickly as possible before the above symptoms occur. Treatment usually includes intravenous (injected) antibiotics and fluids. Read more by clicking here.
Ear/sinus infections: Ear infections may accompany a cold or flu, as the middle of the ear is connected to the upper respiratory tract. When ear infections occur, the ear may become inflamed on the inside, and symptoms such as ear pain (sharp or dull), nausea, muffled hearing and drainage from the ear may present themselves. Sinus infections can similarly be caused by cold and flu, or anything which causes the sinuses to become blocked or filled with fluid. Symptoms may include facial pain, a stuffed or a runny nose, bad breath, fever, cough, and loss of smell. While ear and sinus infections are not typically as serious as the previous complications caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, it is still important to see a doctor as soon as possible to prevent spread or worsening of the condition.
Streptococcus pneumoniae infections can have serious effects on the body, but with good personal hygiene and vaccinations, they are preventable. Plus, an early diagnosis means they are often treatable with antibiotics.
Featured image: depositphotos / imagepointfrPosted on May 5, 2023