According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, until 2000, strep pneumonia causes 100,000 to 135,000 hospitalizations per year. Because of the pneumonia vaccine this rate has decreased to 13 cases per 100,000 people, says the CDC. Pneumonia is an infection of the lung caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae. Symptoms of a strep pneumonia are those common to infection of the lungs and these include respiratory difficulty, fever, malaise and chest pain according to The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library.
The small air sacs of the lungs, the alveoli, become infected and pus builds up in the small airway sacs. A cough can start as just an irritation in the throat and then progress to a coarse, productive, “wet” cough. Patients will complain of coughing up dark green phlegm that is thick and smells foul. Infection can occasionally cause a pleural effusion, or fluid between the lungs and the lining of the lungs. This will cause severe shortness of breath until the fluid is either drained or absorbed. Abscess can form in the area where the pneumonia was located in the lung, says MayoClinic.com.
Not only does the infection cause the buildup of pus, but it also creates pain in the chest. It can be difficult for patients to distinguish between the chest pain of a heart attack and the pain that accompanies pneumonia. Pleurisy describes the inflammatory response of the pleura or lining of the lungs when pneumonia occurs. This inflammation can also cause pain. According to MayoClinic.com, the frequent signs and symptoms of strep pneumonia are chest pain with fever and chills. A sign that the pain is pleuritic in nature is that it goes away when a patient holds their breath.
Fever and Malaise
Fever occurs because of the body’s immune response to the infection. Strep pneumonia causes fever. The immune system signals the brains thermoregulation mechanism when it needs help fighting an infection. Raising the body temperature helps to kill temperature sensitive bacterium according to Scientific American. Normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Biochemical substances called pyrogens trigger the hypothalamus in the brain to increase the body temperature in response to infection. Temperature in strep pneumonia can become quite high, which can prove dangerous in children when febrile seizures occur. Patients should treat the fever with acetaminophen or ibuprofen so that this does not occur.
Malaise is the general feeling of not feeling well. Patients lose their appetites, feel fatigued and have muscle aches and pains during strep pneumonia infections.