What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection of the lower respiratory tract that causes inflammation in one or both lungs.

Alveoli, which are air sacs in your lungs, can then fill up with fluid or pus, creating flu-like symptoms that can last for weeks or cause fast worsening of breathing, requiring hospitalization. Over-the-counter cold and sinus medications have little effect on Pneumonia.

arises in several forms and is typically caused by infectious bacteria or viruses and, less often, by fungi or parasites.

The type of germ influences the severity of the sickness and how it is treated. The severity of an infection is determined by various factors, including your age and overall health, as well as where you contracted the sickness.

What are the types of Pneumonia?

forms vary according to their cause. The various categories and their related causes are as follows:

  • Bacterial : can be caused by a variety of bacteria, the most common of which is Streptococcus pneumonia (S. pneumonia). Pneumococcal Pneumonia is a term doctors use to describe caused by this strain.
  • Pneumovirus : The respiratory syncytial virus and influenza type A, and B are viral causes.
  • Fungal : can occur due to an illness caused by the Coccidioides fungus, such as valley fever.
  • Aspiration : is caused by inhaling food, drinks, or stomach contents into the lungs. Aspiration pneumonia is not spreadable.
  • Hospital-acquired  can happen to persons in the hospital for various reasons that need a ventilator or breathing equipment.

What are the Symptoms ?

The severity of your symptoms will vary based on the cause , age, and overall health. They normally take many days to form.

Lungs with pneumonia bacteria.
Image by Mojca-Peter from Pixabay

Among the most common pneumonia symptoms are:

  • Chest pain when inhaling or coughing
  • Cough that produces phlegm or mucus
  • Fatigue and loss of appetite
  • Fever, sweating, and chills
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea
  • Shortness of breath

Along with these symptoms, older persons and people with weakened immune systems may experience confusion, changes in mental awareness, and a lower-than-normal body temperature.

Infection may not be visible in newborns and babies. They may also vomit, have a fever and cough, and appear restless or exhausted.

If you get a new cough, fever, or shortness of breath, consult your doctor to see if it is COVID-19. Illness caused by the novel coronavirus can potentially result.


The kind and severity of the infection determine treatment for Pneumonia.

The following are the primary kinds and treatments:

  • Bacterial : Antibiotics are typically used in treatment.
  • Viral : Treatment is normally not required; however, if influenza is the reason, a doctor may give antiviral drugs.
  • Fungal : Antifungal medicines are typically used in treatment.

What are the stages?

it can be divided into different types depending on which part of the lungs it is affecting.


Bronchopneumonia is a type that can affect various regions in both of your lungs. It usually occurs near or around the bronchi, which are the tubes connecting your windpipe to your lungs.

Lungs with pneumonia bacteria.
Image by Semevent from Pixabay


Lobar pneumonia is a kind that impacts one or more sections of your lungs called lobes. Your lungs are divided into different parts called lobes. Lobar can be divided into four stages depending on how it has developed over time.


 Lung tissue appears heavy and congested. The air sacs in the lungs have collected a buildup of fluid containing harmful germs.

Red hepatization.

The fluid now contains red blood cells and immune cells. This causes the lungs to appear red and solid.

Grey hepatization.

Red blood cells have begun to break down, while immune cells have not. The disintegration of red blood cells results in a colour shift from red to grey.


The infection has been cleared by immune cells. A productive cough aids in the removal of any leftover fluid from the lungs.

What are the Causes?

Pneumonia occurs when bacteria enter your lungs and produce disease. The immune system inflames the lung’s air sacs (alveoli) to eliminate the infection. This swelling can lead to the air sacs getting filled with pus and fluid, which causes symptoms.

Infectious organisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, can cause Pneumonia.


Streptococcus pneumonia is the most common bacteria that causes pneumonia.

  • Mycoplasma pneumonia
  • Haemophilus influenza
  • Legionella pneumophila


Respiratory viruses frequently cause Pneumonia. Virus infections that can cause Pneumonia include:

  • influenza (flu) infection 
  • respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection 
  • human parainfluenza virus (HPIV) infection
  • rhinoviruses (common cold) infection
  • infection with human metapneumovirus (HMPV)
  • measles
  • varicella-zoster virus (chickenpox)
  • infection with an adenovirus 
  • infection with a coronavirus
  • Infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus responsible for COVID-19)

Although the similarities in symptoms, viral Pneumonia is frequently milder, without therapy, it can improve in 1 to 3 weeks.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute states that individuals with viral pneumonia are at a higher risk of developing bacterial pneumonia.


Pneumonia can occur due to fungi present in soil or bird droppings. These fungi commonly cause pneumonia in individuals with weakened immune systems. Some of the fungi that can cause pneumonia include the following:

  • Pneumocystis jirovecii
  • Cryptococcus species
  • Histoplasmosis species

What are Risk factors?

Anyone can acquire Pneumonia, but certain populations are more at risk. These are some of the groups:

  • Infants from newborns up to two years old.
  • persons 65 and older 
  • those with impaired immune systems as a result of: 
  • pregnancy 
  • HIV 
  • the use of certain medicines, such as steroids or cancer treatments
  • those suffering from chronic medical diseases such as: 
  • asthma 
  • cystic fibrosis 
  • diabetes 
  • COPD 
  • heart failure
  • sickle cell anaemia 
  • liver disease
  • renal disease

persons who have recently or are currently in the hospital, especially if they were or are on a ventilator

persons who have had a neurological abnormality that interferes with their capacity to swallow or cough, such as:

  • stroke
  • head injury
  • dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease

People who have been exposed to lung irritants such as air pollution and toxic gases daily, particularly on the job; persons who live in a crowded living environment, Examples of individuals at higher risk include those in correctional facilities or nursing homes, as well as individuals who smoke, as smoking impairs the body’s ability to clear mucus from the airways.

Those who use drugs or consume excessive amounts of alcohol, which weakens the immune system and increases the likelihood of breathing saliva or vomit into the lungs owing to drowsiness

What are the Complications?

Bacteremia, in which bacteria spread into your blood, is one of the consequences of Pneumonia. Septic shock and organ failure might result from this.

Breathing difficulties, which may necessitate the use of a breathing machine while your lungs heal.

Fluid accumulation between the tissue layers that line your lungs and chest cavity. This fluid can get contaminated as well.

When a pocket of pus grows inside or around your lung, you have a lung abscess.

How to Diagnose?

A doctor would normally ask about a person’s symptoms and medical history before performing a physical examination to diagnose Pneumonia. A stethoscope may be used to listen to the chest, and a pulse oximeter affixed to the finger to measure blood oxygen levels during the physical exam.

When listening to the chest using a stethoscope, a clinician may suspect Pneumonia if they hear the following:

  • coarse breathing
  • wheezing
  • crackling
  • decreased breath sounds

If a doctor suspects Pneumonia, they may request further testing, such as:

Chest X-rays: 

These can be used to confirm a pneumonia diagnosis and to determine which parts of the lungs are damaged.

A chest CT scan can provide more detailed views of your lungs.

White blood cell (WBC) count A blood test that evaluates WBC numbers in the blood. This helps assess the severity of the infection and whether bacteria, viruses, or fungi cause it.

An arterial blood gas test: A blood test that can offer a more precise readout of the body’s oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, among other things.

Blood cultures: These might indicate if the bacterium from the lungs has migrated to the circulation.

Sputum analysis: The sputum is tested to discover which germs are causing the Pneumonia.


 A technique that includes inserting a bronchoscope into the lungs while the patient is sedated. The bronchoscope is a small, flexible tube equipped with a light and camera that allows the clinician to directly inspect sick areas of the airways and lungs. When additional examination is required, a doctor may propose this treatment.

What are the Preventions?

Two vaccinations are available to help protect against pneumococcal infection, the most prevalent bacterial cause of Pneumonia.

The immunizations protect a broad range of pneumococcal diseases. While they may not prevent older people from Pneumonia, they can greatly lower the risk of Pneumonia and other S. pneumonia infections, such as blood and brain infections.

There are two pneumonia vaccines on the market. As described below, healthcare practitioners provide them to people of various ages:

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, often known as Prevnar or PCV13, is a pneumococcal vaccination. Doctors advise administering PCV13 (Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine 13) to the following groups:

Infants are under two because PCV13 is commonly included in an infant’s regular immunizations.

  • Anyone over the age of two who has certain underlying health conditions

Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine

The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is a pneumococcal vaccination that is also known as Pneumovax or PPSV23 by clinicians. Doctors suggested PPSV23 for the following groups:

  • Persons between the ages of 2 and 64 who have specific underlying medical disorders, such as:
  • diabetes
  • chronic heart, lung, or kidney disease:
  •  Individuals between the ages of 19 and 64 who smoke cigarettes
  • All adults aged 65 years and older
  • Individuals who do not have a spleen due to surgical removal

Other preventative measures

Lungs with pneumonia bacteria.
Image by ivabalk from Pixabay

In addition to immunizations, doctors prescribe the following precautions to help avoid Pneumonia:

  • frequent hand washing 
  • It is important to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • not smoking
  • having a balanced, healthy diet 
  • exercising frequently 
  • avoiding persons with Pneumonia or being more cautious about cleanliness while among those who are ill.


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