Protect Yourself from Pneumonia




By Linda Ziac

The Caregiver Resource Center

January 21,2019



Pneumonia is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States, with seniors age 65 and older being at greatest risk.


According to the CDC, pneumonia can result from more than 30 different causes, including viruses, bacteria and even assorted chemicals.





Pneumonia can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi.


Pneumonia can be prevented by immunization, adequate nutrition, and by addressing environmental factors.


Pneumonia caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotics, but only one third of children with pneumonia receive the antibiotics they need.


Pneumonia is an inflammation or infection of the lungs, which makes it difficult for a person’s body to get enough oxygen.


Bacterial pneumonia is known to be the most deadly form of pneumonia, even when antibiotics are given.




A pneumococcal vaccine is a safe, effective way to avoid pneumonia. Up until now, it was believed by many health officials that one vaccine was sufficient for people between the ages of 50 and 65 and for anyone with a chronic disease or weak immune system.



According to the CDC there are 2 types of pneumococcal vaccines:



TYPE 1 - PCV13 - for Infants, Children, and Adults which protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria.


The CDC recommends the PPSV23 vaccine for a person who meets any of the following criteria:





The CCD recommends that all adults age 65 years and older receive one dose of PCV13.


In addition, adults who are between 19 years of age and 64 years of age who have not yet received a PCV13 and who have any of the following conditions


  -  Immunocompromising conditions (e.g., congenital or acquired immunodeficiency, HIV, chronic renal failure, nephrotic syndrome, leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, generalized malignancy, iatrogenic immunosuppression, solid organ transplant, and multiple myeloma)


  -  Functional or anatomic asplenia (e.g., sickle cell disease and other hemoglobinopathies and congenital and acquired asplenia) • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak


  -  Cochlear implants



Since seniors age 65 years and older are at increased risk for pneumococcal disease. the PCV13 vaccine is recommended for all adults 65 years of age and older.



2.  PPSV23 - for Children and Adults which protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria.


It’s important to check with your doctor to see what is recommended for your particular situation. 


Regardless of what you and your doctor decide, keep in mind that the CDC says that you should never receive both vaccines at the same time.


The CDC recommends the PPSV23 vaccine for a person who meets any of the following criteria:


• Age 65 years and older


• Age 2 through 64 years with any of the following conditions


   -  cigarette smokers age 19 years and older


   -  alcoholism


   -  chronic liver disease, cirrhosis


   -  chronic cardiovascular disease, excluding hypertension (e.g., congestive heart failure,cardiomyopathies)


   -  chronic pulmonary disease (including COPD and emphysema, and for adults age 19 years

      and older, asthma)


   -  diabetes mellitus


   -  candidate for or recipient of cochlear implant


   -  cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak


   -  functional or anatomic asplenia (e.g., sickle cell disease, splenectomy)


   -  immunocompromising conditions (e.g., HIV infection, leukemia, congenital immunodeficiency, Hodgkin’s disease, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, generalized malignancy, immunosuppressive therapy)


   -  solid organ transplantation; for bone marrow transplantation




   -  chronic renal failure or nephrotic syndrome






According to the CDC symptoms of pneumonia varies depending on whether a person has bacterial pneumonia or viral pneumonia.








•  cough with yellow, green, or blood-tinged mucus


•  chest pain that worsens when coughing or breathing


•  sudden onset of chills


•  fever of 102 degrees or above (lower than 102 in older people)


•  headache


•  muscle pain


•  breathlessness or rapid breathing


•  lethargy and general fatigue


•  moist, pale skin


•  confusion (especially among seniors)


•  nausea


•  vomiting


•  bluish lips and fingertips


If you are experiencing the symptoms of the flu, pneumonia or another health concern, or you aren’t sure what to do – call you doctor. 



In case of an emergency call 911.





Here are some of the ways that medical professionals treat bacterial pneumonia.


•  get plenty of bed rest


•  drink lots of fluids


•  your doctor may prescribe:


  -  an antibiotic to fight the specific bacterium that is believed to be causing your infection


  -  a cough medicine to calm the cough and to help you release the sputum


  -  fever medication to help lower your temperature




In 2012, The World Health Organization reported that viral pneumonia is the leading cause of death for children worldwide. It’s estimated that 1.4 million children under the age of five die every year from viral pneumonia.





It’s important to contact your doctor or other medical professional if you are experiencing a health or medical concern.


Here are some common symptoms of viral pneumonia.


•  cough


•  fever of 102 F


•  weakness


•  headache


•  shaking chills


•  muscle pain


•  fatigue


•  shortness of breath


•  sweating


•  blueness of the lips



If you are experiencing the symptoms of the flu, pneumonia or another health concern, or you aren’t sure what to do – call you doctor. 



In case of an emergency call 911.





Keep in mind that antibiotics are not prescribed for viral pneumonia, since antibiotics are used to treat bacteria, not viruses.


When you see a doctor for what is believed to be viral pneumonia, the doctor will first exam you, and most likely order some tests such as a chest x-ray, blood work, and sputum culture, to name a few.


If you are found to have viral pneumonia the doctor will most likely take a two prong approach, which includes providing treatment 1) to help lessen the symptoms of your infection, and 2) use antiviral medication to help rid your body of the underlying infection.


Source: Centers for Disease Control (CDC)



Photo from Printshop



The information in this article is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient provider relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.


Please consult your health care provider for an appointment, before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.




Linda Ziac is the owner and founder of The Caregiver Resource Center. The Caregiver Resource Center is a division of Employee Assistance Professionals, Inc.which Linda founded in October 1990. The Caregiver Resource Center provides a spectrum of concierge case management and advocacy services for seniors, people with special needs and families.


Linda’s professional career spans more than 40 years in the health and mental health field as a CT Licensed Professional Counselor, CT Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Board Certified Employee Assistance Professional, Board Certified Case Manager, and Board Certified Dementia Practitioner.  In addition, Ms. Ziac has 15 years of experience coordinating care for her own parents.


Linda assists seniors, people with special needs and their families; in planning for and implementing ways to allow for the greatest degree of health, safety, independence, and quality of life. Linda meets with individuals and family members to assess their needs, and develop a Care Team, while working with members of the Team to formulate a comprehensive Care Plan (a road map).


Once a plan is in place, Linda is available to serve as the point person to monitor and coordinate services, and revise the plan as needed. This role is similar to the conductor of an orchestra; ensuring that there is good communication, teamwork, and that everyone remains focused on the desired goal.

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