Pneumonia: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Breathe Fit
3 min read
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Pneumonia is an infection in the lung tissue caused by microbes which results in inflammation.

Inflammation brings water into the lung tissue and this water can make it difficult to breathe. Pneumonia typically affects the air sacs in one or both of the lungs, which might be the result of an infection.

The alveoli gets filled up with the pus or fluid making it very difficult to breathe. Many germs can cause pneumonia but the most common are the bacteria and virus found in the air we breathe. Pneumonia affects 450 million people globally resulting in about 4 million deaths annually.

The condition can vary from mild to severe. It becomes serious when it affects the infants, older people, young adults, critically ill or those with a weak immune system.


Though it can occur in any people but pneumonia is more common in the elderly people. It can also lead to complications like sepsis, lung absces or accumulation of fluid around the lungs.

Pneumonia: Types and Causes 

Which type of pneumonia one has will depend on the type of germs affecting the person, how and where the germs where acquired from.

  • The most common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumonia. This type of pneumonia is caused due to common cold or on its own. Chlamydophelia pneumonia or Legionella pneumophilacan also cause bacterial pneumonia.

  • Viral pneumonia is caused due to respiratory diseases caused due to viruses which lead to cold and flu, especially affecting the young children and older people. Viral pneumonia is not really serious and resolves itself shortly, as compared to bacterial pneumonia.

  • Fungal pneumonia can be caused due to the fungi in the soil or droppings of the bird in the people who may inhale them.

    This type is most common in people with chronic health problems and weakened immune system.

  • Mycoplasma is not a bacteria or a virus but have the characteristics of both virus and bacteria. Mycoplasma pneumonia have mild symptoms unlike many types of pneumonia.

  • Community-Acquired Pneumonia (CAP) is the type of pneumonia which is acquired outside the hospital or other health organisation and is the most common type of pneumonia.

  • Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia (HAP) is acquired by a person when they are in a hospital ,and this kind of bacterial pneumonia is more dangerous because it is acquired when a person is already under medical care, and their immune system is already vulnerable.

  • Aspirational Pneumonia occurs when the person inhales bacteria into the lungs from food, drinks, vomit or saliva.

  • Ventilator Pneumonia occurs from being on a ventilator by being there for a respiratory support in an intensive care setting.

Most kinds of pneumonia are contagious. Both viral and bacterial pneumonia can spread to others through inhalation of airborne droplets through cough or sneeze.

Fungal pneumonia on the other hand doesn't spread from person to person, and is caught from particles in the environment.

Pneumonia: Risk Factors 

Anyone can be infected by pneumonia, but certain people are at a higher risk:

  • People older than 65 years

  • Infants from birth to 2 years of age

  • People with a weak immune system

  • People who drink, smoke excessively, and regular users of contraband drugs

  • People with chronic conditions like asthma, Diabetes, Heart failure, cystic fibrosis, etc.

Pneumonia: Signs & Symptoms 

  • Cough which may produce phlegm

  • Chest pain while coughing or breathing

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chills and Shiver

  • Lower body temperature in older adults or people with weakened immune system

  • Fever

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

Pneumonia : Diagnosis

The doctor will review your medical history and carry out a physical exam. During the physical exam, doctor may listen to your lungs with the help of a stethoscope to check for abnormal bubbling or crackling sounds which may be suggestive of pneumonia. If pneumonia is suspected, doctor will recommend:

  • Blood tests

  • Chest X-ray

  • Sputum Test

  • Urine Test

  • Pulse Oximetry

  • CT scan and pleural fluid test may be a great diagnosis test for people 65 years and older or people with serious health conditions.


Pneumonia: Treatment 

Treatment depends on the type and severity of the pneumonia, your age and overall health. Treatment aims at neutralising the infection, preventing the spread of the disease, and any complications.

Treatment options include antibiotics, antiviral and antifungal drugs depending on if it is bacterial, fungal or viral pneumonia.

Your doctor may prescribe a cough syrups to calm the cough, pain relievers for discomfort and fever such as ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen.

If a person's condition escalates, hospitalization may be recommended.

(This article is for your general information only. Before trying out any remedy, and treatments, FIT advises you to consult a qualified medical professional.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Pneumonia 

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