Everything You Need to Know About Pneumonia

What’s the Definition of Pneumonia?

Pneumonia refers to an infection of one or both lungs by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Inflammation in the lungs’ air sacs is called alveoli. It is difficult to breathe because the alveoli become clogged with fluids or pus.

Contagious; is viral, as well as bacterial. They can be spread by inhaling airborne droplets that are released from a cough or sneeze.

These types of pneumonia can also be contracted from contact with viruses or bacteria-causing surfaces.

Fungal pneumonia can be contracted from the environment. It is not contagious.

Pneumonia can also be classified based on where it was acquired.

  • Hospital-acquired Pneumonia (HAP) This is a form of bacterial pneumonia that can be contracted during hospitalization. This type of bacterial pneumonia can be more severe than others, because the bacteria may be more resistant.
  • Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) This is pneumonia that has been acquired outside of a hospital or medical setting.
  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). When people who are using a ventilator get pneumonia, it’s called VAP.
  • Aspiration pneumonia. Aspiration pneumonia can be caused by bacteria inhaled from food, drink, and saliva. Aspiration pneumonia is more common in people who have swallowing problems or are too sedated due to the use of medication, alcohol, or any other drug.

Walking Pneumonia

Walking pneumonia can be milder than other forms of pneumonia. Walking pneumonia is a milder form of pneumonia. They may experience milder symptoms than pneumonia. Walking pneumonia can require a longer recovery time.

Walking pneumonia symptoms can include:

  • Mild fever
  • Dry cough lasts longer than one week
  • Chills
  • Breathing difficulty
  • chest pain
  • Reduced appetite

Pneumonia is often caused by viruses and bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus Influenzae. Walking pneumonia is caused most often by the bacteria Mycoplasma pneuma.

Pneumonia Stages

The area of the lungs that it is affecting may help to classify pneumonia.


Bronchopneumonia may affect both your lungs. This is often found near or around the bronchi. These are the tubes connecting your windpipe to your lungs.

Lobar Pneumonia

Lobar pneumonia is a condition that affects one or more of the lobes in your lungs. Each lung is composed of lobes. These are the sections of the lung that are distinct.

Based on how the disease progresses, lobar pneumonia can be further divided in to four stages:

  • Lung tissue appears congested and heavy. The air sacs have become clogged with fluid containing infectious organisms.
  • Red Hepatization. Red blood cells and immune cells have penetrated the fluid. This causes the lungs to appear reddish and solid.
  • Gray Hepatization. Red blood cells are beginning to fall apart while immune cells stay. Red blood cells are broken down, causing a change of color from red to grey.
  • Solution- The infection has been cleared by the immune cells. Remaining fluid can be ejected by a productive cough.


Pneumonia symptoms may range from mild to life-threatening. These symptoms can include:

  • coughing may cause mucus
  • fever
  • Chills or sweating
  • Shortness of breath occurs while performing normal activities or while resting.
  • Chest pain worsens when you cough or breathe.
  • Feelings of fatigue or tiredness
  • Appetite loss
  • nausea or vomiting
  • Headaches

Your age and general health may also influence the symptoms you experience.

  • Although infants may not show any symptoms, they can vomit, have difficulty drinking, or eat poorly.
  • Children younger than 5 years may experience wheezing or fast breathing.
  • Older adults might experience milder symptoms. They may also experience confusion and a lower body temperature than normal.


When germs infect your lungs, you get pneumonia. Inflammation of the air sacs in the lungs (alveoli) is the immune system’s response to the infection. Inflammation can lead to the air sacs filling up with pus and liquids which can cause pneumonia symptoms.

Many types of infectious agents, including bacteria, viruses and fungi, can cause pneumonia.

Bacterial Pneumonia

Streptococcus influenzae is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia. There are also other causes:

  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae
  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • Legionella pneumophila

Viral Pneumonia

Pneumonia is often caused by respiratory viruses. Viruses can cause pneumonia in a variety of ways, including:

  • influenza (flu)
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
  • rhinoviruses Common cold
  • human parainfluenza virus (HPIV) infection
  • human metapneumovirus (HMPV) infection
  • measles
  • Chickenpox (varicella zoster virus).
  • adenovirus infection
  • Coronavirus infection
  • SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).

While the symptoms of both viral and bacterial pneumonia can be very similar, viral infection is more common. The symptoms can resolve in as little as one to three weeks with no treatment.

According to the National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute, those with viral pneumonia are at high risk of contracting bacterial pneumonia.

Fungal Pneumonia

Pneumonia can be caused by fungi found in soil and bird droppings. People with weak immune systems are most likely to get pneumonia. There are several types of fungi that can cause pneumonia.

  • Pneumocystis jirovecii
  • Cryptococcus species
  • Histoplasmosis species

Risk factors

Although anyone can get pneumonia from any source, certain groups are more at risk. These are:

  • Infants between birth and 2 years of age
  • People 65 years and over
  • People with weak immune systems are at risk of:
    • pregnancy
    • HIV
    • Certain medications such as steroids and certain cancer drugs may be prohibited.
  • People with chronic medical conditions such as:
    • Asthma
    • Cystic Fibrosis
    • diabetes
    • COPD
    • heart failure
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Liver disease
    • Kidney disease
  • People who have been hospitalized recently or are currently in hospital, especially if they are currently on a ventilator.
  • People who have had a brain disease, which can impair their ability to swallow and cough, may be:
    • stroke
    • Head injury
    • Alzheimer’s
    • Parkinson’s disease
  • People who have been exposed to lung irritations such as toxic fumes and air pollution, particularly on the job, are more likely to be exposed.
  • People who live in a cramped living environment such as a nursing home or prison.
  • People who smoke make it harder for their bodies to eliminate mucus from the airways.
  • People who drink a lot of alcohol or use drugs, which can weaken the immune system. They also have a higher chance of inhaling saliva and vomiting into their lungs.



Your medical history will be reviewed by your doctor. Your doctor will ask questions about your medical history, including when and how long ago your symptoms started.

The doctor will then conduct a physical exam. They will listen to your lungs and use a stethoscope to check for abnormal sounds like crackling.

Your doctor may order one or more tests depending on your severity and risk of complications.

Chest Xray

A Xray allows your doctor to look for signs and symptoms of inflammation in your chest. An X-ray can be used to inform your doctor if there is inflammation.

Blood culture

To confirm an infection, this test requires a blood sample. You can also get help identifying the cause of your condition by culturing.

Sputum culture

After you have coughed deep, a sample is taken from your mucus during a Sputum Culture. The mucus is then sent to a laboratory to be tested to determine the source of the infection.

Pulse Oximetry

The pulse-oximetry measures the oxygen level in your blood. An indicator placed on your finger can tell you if your lungs are moving enough oxygen through the bloodstream.

CT scan

CT scans give you a clearer and more detailed view of your lungs.

Fluid sample

Your doctor may place a needle between your ribs if they suspect that there is fluid in your pleural space. This test can identify the source of the infection.


A Bronchoscopy examines the airways of your lungs. This is done by a camera attached to a flexible tube, which gently guides down your throat into your lungs.

If your symptoms persist or you are hospitalized, your doctor may order this test.


The severity of your pneumonia and your overall health will determine the treatment you need.

Prescription medication

Your doctor might prescribe medication to treat your pneumonia. The specific cause of your pneumonia will determine the medication you are prescribed.

Most cases of bacterial pneumonia can be treated with oral antibiotics. Even if you feel better, it is important to continue with your antibiotics. It can make it more difficult to treat the infection in the future.

Antibiotics don’t work against viruses. Your doctor might prescribe an antiviral in certain cases. Many cases of viral pneumonia can be treated at home.

Fungal pneumonia can be treated with antifungal medication. This medication may be required for several weeks in order to eliminate the infection.

OTC Medicines

If necessary, your doctor may recommend OTC (over-the-counter) medication to ease your fever and pain. These could include:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin).
  • Acetaminophen, Tylenol

To ease your symptoms, your doctor may recommend you take cough medicine. Remember that coughing can help remove fluid from your lungs so don’t try to get rid of it completely.

Home Remedies

While home remedies won’t cure pneumonia, there are things you can do that will help.

One of the most common signs of pneumonia is coughing. Gargling salt water and drinking peppermint oil are natural ways to relieve a sore cough.

A cool compress can be used to reduce fever. Warm water, or a warm bowl of soup, can be helpful in reducing chills. These are some other home remedies you can try.

Drinking plenty of fluids and getting enough rest can improve your recovery.

Home remedies may be helpful, but it is important to follow your treatment plan. Follow the instructions for any prescriptions.


You may need to be admitted if your symptoms are severe or you have any other health issues. Doctors can monitor your heart rate, temperature and breathing at the hospital. The following are some of the possible hospital treatments:

  • Injection of antibiotics into a vein
  • Respiratory therapy is a method that delivers specific medications directly to the lungs or teaches you how to do breathing exercises to increase your oxygenation.
  • Oxytherapy To maintain oxygen levels in the bloodstream (received via a nasal tube or face mask depending on severity).


Pneumonia can cause complications in those with weakened immune system or chronic conditions such as diabetes.

These complications may include:

  • Chronic conditions that are more severe. Preexisting conditions such as asthma can make your condition worse. These conditions are congestive cardiac failure and Emphysema. Certain people are more likely to have a heart attack if they have pneumonia.
  • Bacteremia. The bacteria from the pneumonia infection could spread to your bloodstream. This can cause dangerously low blood pressure and septic shock. In some cases, it can even lead to organ failure.
  • Lung abscesses. This is a condition in which the lungs have cavities that are filled with pus. They can be treated with antibiotics. Sometimes, they will require drainage or surgery to get rid of the pus.
  • Trouble breathing. It is possible that you will have difficulty breathing. A ventilator may be necessary.
  • Acute respiratory distress Syndrome. This is severe respiratory failure. It is a medical emergency.
  • Pleural effusion. If your pneumonia isn’t treated, you may develop fluid around your lungs in your pleura, called pleural effusion. The thin membranes called the pleura line your lungs and your rib cage. It is possible for the fluid to become infected and must be drained.
  • Damage to the liver, kidney, and heart. These organs can be damaged if they aren’t getting enough oxygen or if the immune system reacts too strongly to infection.
  • Death. Sometimes, pneumonia may prove fatal. The CDC estimates that almost 44,000 Americans died of pneumonia in 2019Trusted Source.


Many cases of pneumonia can be avoided.


Get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect yourself against pneumonia. There are many vaccines that can prevent pneumonia.

Prevnar 13 & Pneumovax23

These two vaccines protect against both pneumonia and meningitis due to pneumococcal bacteria. Your doctor will recommend which vaccine is best for you.

Prevnar13 is effective against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria. This vaccine is recommended by the CDC for:

  • Children under age 2
  • People between the ages of 2 and 64 who have chronic conditions that increase their chance of contracting pneumonia
  • Adults 65 years and older should consult their doctor.

Pneumovax23 is effective against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria. It is recommended by the CDC for:

  • Adults 65 years and older
  • Smoking is a problem for adults aged 19-64
  • People between the ages of 2 and 64 who have chronic conditions that increase their chance of contracting pneumonia

Flu Vaccine

Pneumonia is often a side effect of the flu. Make sure you get a flu shot every year. The CDC recommends everyone 6 months old and older to get vaccinated, especially those at high risk for flu complications.

Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib) Vaccine

This vaccine protects against Haemophilus Influenza type B (Hib), which is a type of bacteria that can cause meningitis and pneumonia. This vaccine is recommended by the CDC for:

  • All children below 5 years of age
  • Unvaccinated adults over 65 or those with certain health conditions
  • People who have had a bone marrow donor

According to the National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute, not all cases can be prevented by using pneumonia vaccines.

However, if you are vaccinated, you will likely have a milder illness and a shorter duration. There is also a reduced risk of complications.

Additional Prevention Tips

There are many things you can do to prevent pneumonia, in addition to getting vaccinated.

  • Quit smoking if you are a smoker. You are more likely to get respiratory infections like pneumonia if you smoke.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, at least once a week for 20 seconds.
  • Cover your coughs. Use tissues immediately.
  • To strengthen your immune system, live a healthy lifestyle. You should get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly.

You can reduce your chance of contracting pneumonia by taking preventive steps and vaccinating. More prevention tips are available here

Is pneumonia curable?

Pneumonia can be caused by a variety of infectious agents. Many cases of pneumonia can be treated quickly and without complications if you recognize the problem early.

Stopping your antibiotics too early may cause a bacterial infection not to clear up completely. This could mean that your pneumonia can return.

Antibiotic resistance can also be caused by not stopping antibiotics earlier. It is more difficult to treat antibiotic-resistant infections.

At-home treatment is often enough to cure viral pneumonia in a matter of weeks. You may need to take antivirals in some cases.

Antifungal medications treat fungal pneumonia. This may mean that you will need to be treated for a longer time.

Pregnancy Pneumonia

Maternal pneumonia is a form of pneumonia that can occur during pregnancy. People who are pregnant are at greater risk for developing pneumonia. This is because of the natural suppression that occurs during pregnancy to the immune system.

There are no differences in the symptoms of pneumonia from one trimester to another. You may experience other discomforts or symptoms later in pregnancy, but you might notice them more frequently.

You should contact your doctor immediately if you experience symptoms of pneumonia while pregnant. Maternal pneumonia can cause a number of complications such as premature delivery or low birthweight.

Pneumonia in Children

Pneumonia is a common childhood condition. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, approximately 1 in 71 children around the world get pneumonia each year.

There are many causes of childhood pneumonia. Children under 5 years of age are more likely to get pneumonia from respiratory viruses such as Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus Influenzae.

Children between the ages 5 and 13 are often diagnosed with pneumonia due to Mycoplasma pneumonia. Mycoplasma pneumonia can cause walking pneumonia. This is a milder type of pneumonia.

If you have any concerns about your child, consult your doctor.

  • Are you having difficulty breathing?
  • Low on energy
  • Changes in appetite

Pneumonia can quickly become dangerous, especially in children under five years old. How to Avoid Complications


Most people will respond to treatment and can recover from pneumonia. Your recovery time will depend on how severe your pneumonia is and your overall health.

Younger people may feel normal within a week of treatment. Others may need longer recovery times and may feel fatigued. Your recovery time may be extended if your symptoms are severe.

These steps can help you recover and prevent future complications.

  • Follow the doctor’s treatment plan and take your medications exactly as directed.
  • To fight the infection, get enough rest.
  • Get plenty of fluids.
  • Ask your doctor when it is best to schedule a follow-up appointment. To ensure that your infection is gone, they may order another chest X-ray.


Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi in the lungs. This infection triggers the immune system to produce fluids and pus in the air sacs of the lung. This can cause symptoms like difficulty breathing, coughing, fever, and chills.

Your doctor will perform a physical exam to diagnose pneumonia. They also discuss your medical history. Your doctor may recommend additional testing such as a chest radiograph.

The cause of the infection will determine the treatment. Treatment may include antiviral medication, antibiotics, and antifungal medication.

Pneumonia usually clears up within a few days. If your symptoms worsen, you should see a doctor immediately. You may need to be admitted to hospital to treat or prevent more serious complications.

Was this article helpful? Read more on Metrule

Leave a Comment