Especially useful for older people: Pneumococcal vaccination prevents pneumonia
According to health experts, pneumonia is still a neglected danger that can be fatal. According to estimates, around 35,000 people die of the disease annually in Germany alone. Much of the pneumonia is caused by pneumococci. You can actually protect yourself against these bacteria, but not everyone does it.
Serious pneumococcal diseases
Pneumococci are bacteria that in many cases cause infections such as sinusitis or otitis media. However, potentially life-threatening diseases such as meningitis and blood poisoning can also be caused by these bacteria. And a large part of pneumonia is caused by pneumococci. However, experts warn that too few people are protected against the pathogens.
Vaccination protection in the wet and cold season
Just 30 percent of seniors between 65 and 79 are vaccinated against pneumococci. The bacteria can trigger pneumonia, which can be fatal, the health insurance company Barmer reports.
The health insurance fund therefore advises to ensure adequate vaccination protection before the start of the wet and cold season.
“80 percent of pneumonia is caused by bacteria that you can protect yourself against. Vaccination against pneumococci is particularly useful for older people, ”recommends Dr. Ursula Marschall, chief medical officer at Barmer.
People with weak immune systems are particularly at risk
Every year, around 800,000 people in Germany contract pneumonia that they did not contract in the hospital.
“Pneumonia is clearly one of the common diseases. With this diagnosis, more people are hospitalized every year than after a heart attack or stroke, ”says Marschall.
“Ten percent of those affected must even be treated in the intensive care unit. It is the most common infectious disease leading to death, ”explains the expert.
People with a weakened immune system are particularly affected, which includes not only many older people, but also children.
In addition, risk factors such as smoking, diabetes mellitus or neurological diseases favor the development of pneumonia.
Rapid diagnosis of pneumonia is important
But how do I recognize pneumonia? Typical symptoms are a rapidly increasing fever, chills and cough, but also a general feeling of weakness and difficulty breathing.
However, pneumonia can also be completely atypical, which sometimes makes the diagnosis somewhat difficult.
Older people can be confused or in a kind of twilight state. And the increase in fever doesn't always have to be that drastic.
“A quick diagnosis is important for pneumonia, especially in order to prevent procrastination in people with a weakened immune system. If in doubt, an X-ray can bring clarity, ”explains Marschall. (ad)