Last updated date: 09-Mar-2024

Originally Written in English

Pneumonia - symptoms, diagnosis and treatment


    What is Pneumonia? 

    The textbook pneumonia definition is a lung infection brought on by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. The infection causes inflammation in the lungs' alveoli, which are small air sacs. As the alveoli swell with liquid or pus, breathing becomes challenging. Pneumonia caused by bacteria or viruses can then easily spread to others. This implies that they can transmit from person to person when airborne droplets from a cough or sneeze are inhaled. These kinds of pneumonia can also spread by contact with surfaces or objects that have been exposed to pathogens that cause the disease. 

    The pneumonia ICD-10 code used to specify a diagnosis for financial reimbursement is J18. 9 


    Pneumonia Types

    Pneumonia Types

    Pneumonia is further divided into groups based on how or where it was acquired as presented in the following section. Pneumonia medical abbreviations are shown in brackets:

    • Hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP) - This particular bacterial pneumonia is contracted while being treated in a hospital. Due to the bacteria's potential increased antibiotic resistance, it may be more dangerous than other forms.
    • Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) - This describes pneumonia that develops outside of a hospital or other care facility.
    • Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) - VAP is the term used to describe pneumonia in ventilator-dependent patients.
    • Aspiration pneumonia - Pneumonia from aspiration is brought on by inhaling bacteria into the lungs through food, drink, or saliva. If an individual has trouble swallowing or is very sleepy from using narcotics, alcohol, or other sedatives, it's more likely to happen.


    What is walking Pneumonia?

    A milder form of pneumonia is called walking pneumonia. People who have walking pneumonia might not even be aware that they are sick. In contrast to pneumonia, their symptoms could seem more like a minor respiratory illness (the symptoms mostly include mild fever, dry cough, chills, chest pain and shortness of breath). Walking pneumonia, however, may require a longer recuperation time.

    The bacterium scientifically called Mycoplasma pneumoniae is considered to be the most frequent cause of walking pneumonia.


    Pneumonia causes- Pneumonia bacterial or viral

    Pneumonia is frequently brought on by viruses and bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae or Haemophilus influenzae. When a microroganism enters one’s lungs, it can lead to pneumonia. Inflammation of the lung's air sacs arises from the immune system's response to eliminate the infection (alveoli). The air sacs may eventually get clogged with fluids and pus as a result of this inflammation, leading to pneumonia-like symptoms.

    Pneumonia can be brought on by a variety of infectious organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungus, leading to the following classification: 

    • Bacterial pneumonia - while the most common cause is Streptococcus pneumoniae, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae and Legionella pneumophila may also lead to pneumonia. 
    • Viral pneumonia - the primary cause of pneumonia is frequently respiratory viruses. Virus infections that might result in pneumonia include: influenza (pneumonia from flu), rhinoviruses (known as common cold), measles, chickenpox, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), infections with human parainfluenza virus (HPIV) and human metapneumovirus (HMPV), as well as adenovirus and SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19. Viral pneumonia is typically milder than bacterial pneumonia, despite the similarities in their symptoms. Without therapy, it can become better in one to three weeks. People who have viral pneumonia are susceptible to getting bacterial pneumonia, according to multiple sources. 
    • Fungal pneumonia - Pneumonia can be brought on by fungi found in soil or bird droppings. In persons with compromised immune systems, pneumonia is most frequently caused by them. Pneumonia-causing fungus include, for instance: Pneumocystis jirovecii, Cryptococcus species and Histoplasmosis species.


    FAQ about how you could catch Pneumonia 

    Pneumonia causes

    Is pneumonia contagious? Some types of pneumonia are contagious, meaning that they spread from person to person. When the disease-causing agents are breathed into your lungs, pneumonia brought on by bacteria or viruses can spread to other people. However, pneumonia is not always brought on by exposure to the pneumonia-causing bacteria. Fungi-caused pneumonia is not communicable. Although the fungi in the soil are airborne and can be inhaled, they cannot be passed from one person to another.

    How does pneumonia spread? When someone starts to sneeze or cough, droplets of fluid containing the pneumonia bacteria or virus get released into the environment and subsequently inhaled by other people. Additionally, one can contract pneumonia by touching an object that has previously been touched by a person who has pneumonia and then contacting their mouth or nose, as well as by touching a tissue that has been used by the infected person.

     How long is pneumonia contagious? A person is still considered contagious if they have bacterial pneumonia up until roughly the second day after they start taking antibiotics and their fever has subsided. In cases of viral pneumonia, the pneumonia contagious period lasts until feeling better and having no fever for a few days.


    Pneumonia Symptoms

    Pneumonia Symptoms

    Pneumonia pathophysiology includes four pathological stages congestion, red hepatization, grey hepatization and resolution. The symptoms a patient might experience are summarized below: 

    • Pneumonia symptoms in adults

    The symptoms' intensity can range from mild to life-threatening, and they include pneumonia fever (pneumonia without fever is also possible), pneumonia cough producing mucus, sweating and chills, unusual shortness of breath during normal daily activities and pneumonia pain (pneumonia back pain, chest pain, headaches). Other pneumonia effects include feeling tired, nausea and vomiting and an abnormal loss of appetite. 

    • Pneumonia in babies toddlers and kids

    Pneumonia can be a very typical pediatric illness. According to the statistics, pneumonia affects 1 in 71 children worldwide every year. By age, the causes of pediatric pneumonia can change. For instance, children under the age of five are more likely to get pneumonia caused by respiratory viruses, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Haemophilus influenzae. Children between 5 and 13 are frequently seen with Mycoplasma pneumoniae-related pneumonia. Usual symptoms in children are having difficulties in breathing, lacking energy and changes in their appetite. 

    • Pneumonia in elderly

    Seniors may occasionally experience different pneumonia symptoms. Adults over 65 who have pneumonia may have a mild fever or even a normal temperature. Additionally, they might become less awake, display signs of bewilderment, or have changes in their mental awareness. It is recommended to consult a doctor right away in cases of an elderly relative or friend having pneumonia.


    How Pneumonia is Diagnosed?

    Pneumonia is Diagnosed

    One’s medical history will be taken in the beginning by their doctor. They'll enquire about their general health and the timing of the onset of the experienced symptoms. The next step is a physical examination. This usually involves using a stethoscope to listen to the patient’s lungs for any unusual noises and pneumonia breath sounds (pneumonia cough sounds as well). The doctor might also prescribe one or more of the following tests, depending on the severity of the symptoms and the risk of developing complications:

    • Pneumonia lung X-ray/ Pneumonia on X-ray

    A pneumonia chest X-ray aids medical professionals in searching for indications of chest inflammation. The doctor can learn more about the location and severity of any inflammation from the X-ray if it is present. Pneumonia on chest X-ray (pneumonia on cxr) is diagnosed by observing the lungs, heart and blood vessels. The radiologist will search for infiltrates, which are white areas in the lungs that signify an infection, when interpreting the x-ray.

    • Blood culture

    This test confirms an infection using a blood sample. Additionally, culture can aid in determining what might be the cause of the condition.

    • Sputum culture

    A sample of mucus is taken during a sputum culture after having coughed vigorously. It is subsequently delivered to a lab for analysis in order to determine the infection's origin.

    • Pulse oximetry

    The amount of oxygen in the blood is measured with pulse oximetry. If a sensor is attached to one of the fingertips, it can tell whether the bloodstream is receiving enough oxygen from the lungs.

    • CT scan

    This procedure is designed to provide a clearer picture of one’s lungs, including more details. 

    • Fluid sample

    A fluid sample may be taken with a needle inserted between one’s ribs if the doctor suspects there is pneumonia fluid in the lungs, in the pleural space of the chest. This examination might aid in determining the source of the infection.

    • Bronchoscopy

    A bronchoscopy examines the lungs' airways. It accomplishes this by gently guiding a flexible tube with a camera on the end down one’s throat and into their lungs. If pneumonia early symptoms are severe or if they are hospitalized and not responding well to antibiotics, the doctor might order this test.


    How Pneumonia is Treated? 

    Pneumonia antibiotic treatment

    The type of pneumonia a patient has, its severity, and their general health will all influence the treatment plan developed by a medical professional. There are numerous pneumonia treatment guidelines worldwide, but patient characteristics should always be considered. 

    • Prescription medications- pneumonia antibiotic treatment

    A medicine may be recommended by the doctor to assist treat pneumonia, depending on the precise reason of the condition. Most cases of bacterial pneumonia can be easily treated with oral antibiotics. Even if one starts to feel better, it is important always to finish your prescription of antibiotics. If not, you can delay the healing of the infection and make future treatments more difficult. Viral infections cannot be treated with pneumonia antibiotics. The doctor could occasionally recommend an antiviral. Fungal pneumonia is treated with antifungal medicines. To get rid of the infection, the patient might need to take this medicine for a few weeks.

    • OTC medications

    If necessary, the doctor may also advise using over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to treat discomfort and fever. These may consist of aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Additionally, they can advise cough medicine to lessen the cough so one can get some rest. 

    • Home remedies

    Even while there are certain things one may do to lessen symptoms, home cures don't actually treat pneumonia. One of the most typical signs of pneumonia is coughing. Salt water gargles and peppermint tea are two natural remedies for coughs. The use of cool compresses can help lower a fever. Chills can be relieved by sipping warm water or eating a warm bowl of soup. It is recommended to get enough of sleep and drink lots of water to hasten the pneumonia recovery and avoid a recurrence.

    • Hospitalization

    One might require hospitalization if their symptoms are very severe or if they have additional health issues. In the hospital, medical professionals can monitor breathing, temperature, and heart rate. Hospital care may consist of:

    1. Antibiotics that are injected into one’s veins
    2. Respiratory therapy that entails administering particular drugs straight into the lungs or instructing in breathing techniques to increase oxygenation
    3. Pneumonia oxygen therapy is designed to keep oxygen levels in the bloodstream normal (depending on the severity of the disease, it is received through nasal tubes, face masks, or ventilators)


    Pneumonia Complications

    Complications from pneumonia can arise, particularly in those with compromised immune systems or long-term illnesses like diabetes. Possible complications include:

    • In cases of pre-existing health conditions, these may worsen. Emphysema and congestive heart failure are two examples of these disorders. Pneumonia can make certain people more susceptible to heart attacks.
    • Bacteremia- the bloodstream may become infected by pneumonia-related bacteria. This may result in organ failure, septic shock, and dangerously low blood pressure.
    • Lung abscesses- these are pus-filled crevices in the lungs that are treatable with antibiotics. In some cases, the pus may need to be removed surgically or by drainage.
    • One may experience difficulties in getting enough oxygen through breathing, requiring a ventilator.
    • Acute respiratory distress syndrome is another possible complication of pneumonia, representing a medical emergency.
    • Pleural effusion, a fluid collection in the pleura around the lungs caused by untreated pneumonia, is possible. The interior of the rib cage and the outside of the lungs are lined with thin membranes called pleura. It could be necessary to remove the fluid if it becomes contaminated.
    • The kidney, heart and liver may also be affected if not receiving enough oxygen.


    Pneumonia Prevention  

    Pneumonia Prevention

    Getting vaccinated is the first line of defense against pneumonia. Pneumonia can be avoided with the use of many immunizations and pneumonia shots, including the following vaccines mentioned within pneumonia vaccine guidelines:

    • Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23

    These two pneumococcal pneumonia vaccines aid in preventing both pneumonia and meningitis. A doctor can determine which option may be preferable for a person. The Prevnar 13 vaccine is considered to be effective against 13 types of bacteria, as its name suggests, and it is suitable for children under the age of 2, people between 2 and 64 suffering from chronic diseases and adults older than 65 based on a medical recommendation. Pneumovax 23 is recommended for adults that are older than 65 years old, adults from 19 to 64 years old that identify as smokers, and all people having chronic conditions, regardless of age.

    • Flu vaccine- pneumonia vs flu

    It is important to make sure also to obtain a yearly flu shot because pneumonia can frequently be an influenza consequence. Professionals advise vaccination for everyone six months of age and older, especially those who may be at risk of flu complications.

    • Hib vaccine

    This vaccination offers a defense against the bacteria known as Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib), which can lead to meningitis and pneumonia. This vaccine is advised for children under the age of 5, children and adults suffering from specific health conditions that haven’t been vaccinated and patients with bone marrow transplant. 


    The effectiveness of the pneumococcal vaccine in preventing pneumococcal illness in older children and adults is estimated to be between 50-70%. There are no live organisms present in either type of pneumococcal vaccine; they are both "killed" or inactivated vaccines. The illnesses they defend against cannot be caused by them. Pneumonia vaccine side effects include decreased appetite, higher body temperature, irritability, sleepiness or difficulties in sleeping and redness or swelling affecting the area of the injection.


    Other prevention methods

    Other than vaccination, it is recommended to quit smoking, regularly wash hands properly, cover the coughs and sneezes and simply maintain a healthy lifestyle designed to improve the immune system. 


    Pneumonia Risk Factors

    Even though everyone can get pneumonia, there are specific groups that present a higher risk, including:

    • infants younger than two years old
    • seniors older than 65 
    • people that present weak immune systems due to different factors, such as pregnancy, HIV, or consumption of certain medications
    • people suffering from specific chronic medical conditions (asthma, diabetes, heart failure, COPD, liver or kidney disease and others)
    • people that are hospitalized, especially if they are on a ventilator; pneumonia after surgery is also possible
    • people having a brain disorder affecting their ability to cough or swallow properly (stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and others)
    • smokers and people using drugs or drinking large amounts of alcohol.


    Pneumonia- how long does it last? Usually, coughing and shortness of breath should significantly decrease in the first six weeks. Most symptoms should subside by three months, though exhaustion may still be present. Most people will be totally recovered by six months.


    Can pneumonia kill you? Is pneumonia deadly?

    The majority of pneumonia patients react favorably to therapy, although the condition can be extremely dangerous and even fatal. If a patient is an older adult, a small child who has a compromised immune system or suffers from a chronic illness like diabetes or cirrhosis, they are more likely to experience difficulties. Yearly, almost a million adults in the United States seek hospital care for this medical condition and the pneumonia death rate stands at nearly 50,000 pneumonia deaths per year.


    What is Pneumonia klebsiella? 

    The bacteria known as Klebsiella pneumoniae typically reside in one’s intestines and feces. They are referred to as Gram-negative, encapsulated, and nonmobile bacteria by experts. They are also highly susceptible to developing antibiotic resistance. If these bacteria are in one’s intestines or stool, they are not harmful. However, they can lead to serious infections if they travel to another area of the body, including the lungs.


    Pneumonia can be easily linked to other infections within the body, especially to infections of the respiratory tract, as described below: 

    • Pneumonia vs bronchitis symptoms- how are pneumonia and bronchitis linked? The primary lungs' airways (bronchi), which are infected, become irritating and inflamed as a result of bronchitis. The windpipe is bordered by branches of the primary airways (trachea). In extreme circumstances, bronchitis can even turn into pneumonia. But according to studies, these two conditions are very different and impact various lung organs. The symptoms of pneumonia are typically significantly more severe and, in some situations, potentially fatal. Symptoms of bronchitis and pneumonia in lungs are very similar.
    • Pneumonia with COPD- how are pneumonia and COPD linked? Pneumonia is more likely to strike those with COPD. For those who have COPD, pneumonia is more deadly since it increases the chance of respiratory failure. This occurs when either the body doesn't obtain enough oxygen or has trouble getting rid of carbon dioxide.
    • Pneumonia with sepsis When the body tries to combat an infection, such as pneumonia, a urinary tract infection, or anything like a gastrointestinal illness, a complication known as sepsis can occur. In an effort to combat the infection, the immune system goes into overdrive and releases chemicals into the bloodstream.
    • Pneumonia vs pulmonary edema While pulmonary edema and pneumonia both result in a type of lung accumulation, the former is typically brought on by CHF. On the other hand, an infection is what causes pneumonia. A regular cold or the flu might raise the risk of developing pneumonia if the immune system is compromised.
    • Pneumonia vs pneumonitis Inflammation of the lung tissue is referred to as pneumonitis. Since the infection produces inflammation, pneumonia is technically a form of pneumonitis. However, clinicians typically use the term "pneumonitis" to describe lung inflammation brought on by non-infectious causes.



    Lung infection

    Pneumonia is defined as a lung infection caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. The air sacs in the lung swell with pus and fluid as a result of the immune system's response to this illness. This causes symptoms such as chest pain, a cough that may produce mucus, fever, and chills. Medical professionals will do a physical examination and inquire about the patient’s medical history to identify pneumonia. They could advise more exams, such as a chest X-ray. Treatment is based on the infection's underlying etiology. Antibiotics, antiviral drugs, or antifungal drugs might be used.

    Usually, pneumonia becomes well within a few weeks. If the symptoms worsen, it is crucial to consult a doctor right away since one might need to stay in the hospital to prevent or treat more serious consequences.