Are You at Increased Risk of Getting Pneumococcal Pneumonia?

(StatePoint) Pneumococcal pneumonia is a potentially serious bacterial lung disease that can be contracted any time of year. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pneumococcal pneumonia causes 150,000 annual hospitalizations nationwide. It can even be life-threatening in serious cases.

To help reduce the burden of this lung disease, the American Lung Association and Pfizer are partnering to share important facts about pneumococcal pneumonia for adults 65 or older and adults 19-64 with certain underlying health conditions. Here’s what to know:

What is pneumococcal pneumonia? Many people think pneumococcal pneumonia is a cold or the flu, but it’s not. Pneumococcal pneumonia is caused by bacteria that live in the upper respiratory tract, and it can spread to others through coughing or close contact. Common symptoms include high fever, excessive sweating, shaking chills, coughing, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath and chest pain. Some symptoms can appear quickly and without warning.

Who is at risk? While anyone can get pneumococcal pneumonia, some people are at higher risk of getting severely ill, including those 19 or older with certain medical conditions such as asthma, COPD, chronic heart disease or diabetes, and adults who smoke cigarettes. Additionally, even healthy adults 65 and older are at increased risk because the body’s immune system naturally weakens with age. Visit Lung.org/pneumococcal to take a two-minute quiz to determine if you are at elevated risk.

How can you help prevent pneumococcal pneumonia? The CDC recommends pneumococcal pneumonia vaccination for adults 19 or older with certain underlying medical conditions, and for adults 65 or older. Unlike the flu shot, you don’t need pneumococcal vaccination every year. Your healthcare provider can help you determine when you should be vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia. Infection can strike anytime, anywhere, in any season, so now is the time to talk to a healthcare provider about pneumococcal vaccination.

“Low vaccination rates leave far too many people vulnerable to pneumococcal pneumonia,” states Dr. Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association. “Keeping up to date with vaccinations is important for everyone, especially those living with chronic health conditions such as asthma or diabetes.”

For additional information and resources, visit Lung.org/pneumococcal.

Pneumococcal pneumonia is a potentially serious disease you shouldn’t ignore. Fortunately, you can help protect yourself by asking your doctor or pharmacist about vaccination.

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