Streptococcus pneumoniae is a gram positive, anaerobic bacterial species which belongs to the Streptococcus genus of gram positive bacteria. As you may have guessed by the name of this bacterial species, this one's the chief culprit responsible for the maximum cases of bacterial pneumonia. Pneumonia , as most of you must be knowing, is a condition wherein the alveoli (the air sacs) inside the lungs get inflamed. This inflammation can be caused by bacterial, viral, fungal as well as parasitic pathogens which can be contacted from an infected individual.
Pneumonia can also occur when the lung tissues get injured from frequent and long-term exposure to chemical irritants (such as tar in cigarettes) or as a result of physical trauma (such as drowning or getting water inside the lungs) which can leave the lung tissues damaged, making them further susceptible to pathogenic infection.
Anyway, coming back to the titular subject of streptococcus pneumoniae treatment, it is needless to mention that an antibiotics course is the way to go for getting rid of this pathogenic bacteria from one's system to get complete relief from the harrowing symptoms. Before I divulge the complete treatment details, let's take a quick look at the typical symptoms of bacterial pneumonia caused by this specific pathogenic strain of bacteria.
Streptococcus Pneumoniae Symptoms
Typical symptoms of bacterial pneumonia include, besides fevers and chills, persistent cough accompanied by production of discolored sputum that appears yellowish-green in color. This discoloration is the most prominent indication that the infection is either caused by bacterial or fungal pathogens. Besides these, other typical pneumonia symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, sharp pains in the chest while coughing, etc. are also present.
Occasionally, the skin can assume a slight, bluish hue, especially at the extremities, due to lack of sufficient oxygen in the body which happens as a result of the lungs (which are weighed down and worn out by the infection) not being able to perform their function to the optimal extent. In order to accurately pinpoint the exact pathogen responsible for these pneumonia symptoms, blood samples and sputum cultures need to be tested. Once bacterial infection is confirmed by these tests, an antibiotic treatment plan is chalked out accordingly.
Needless to mention, a case of bacterial pneumonia calls for an antibiotics course that must be followed for a specific duration as prescribed by the supervising physician. Now, not all bacterial pneumonia are caused by streptococcus pneumoniae or gram positive bacteria alone for that matter. A small percentage of bacterial pneumonia may also be caused by certain species of gram negative bacteria such as Moraxella catarrhalis, Haemophilus influenzae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Escherichia coli.
Now, the antibiotics groups used for treating pneumonia caused by gram negative bacteria will differ from those used for treating pneumonia caused by gram positive bacteria. Even in case of gram positive bacteria, the antibiotics group for treating a Streptococcus pneumoniae infection and a Staphylococcus aureus infection of the lungs will differ! Coming back to treating pneumonia caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, the preferred antibiotics are erythromycin and amoxicillin.
In very severe cases or advanced stages of bacterial infection, combination of erythromycin and cefuroxim may be administered. Due to the high probability of adverse side effects, this combination is not usually resorted to unless absolutely necessary. Other medications for providing symptomatic relief (such as antipyretics, paracetamols, cough syrup, etc.) may be administered along with the antibiotics.
However, a practicing medical professional must be consulted before administering any kind of medication as self medication and ignorance about drug combinations can lead to adverse reactions which can prove extremely dangerous! In case of severe inability to breathe properly, hospitalization and assisted ventilation may be necessary.
While the pneumonia treatment is carried out, care must be taken to keep the surroundings of the patient clean and hygienic. Also, healthy and nutritious food rich in vitamins and antioxidants along with lots of fluids must be given to the patient so that the immune system gets a boost and does its bit to fight the infection from within.
A nutritious diet is all the more important while on an antibiotics course as antibiotic medications often weaken the immune system and at such a time, a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals can undo the damage to a large extent. A note for the medical professional: make sure to find out whether the patient is allergic to any specific antibiotics group before prescribing one.