Pneumonia – Symptoms and Causes

Pneumonia is an infection that causes inflammation of one or both lungs. which is the result of bacteria, viruses and fungi.(1)

Because of rhe infection, inflammation happens in the air sacs of your lungs, that are known as alveoli. The alveoli are filled with fluid or pus, which makes breathing difficult.

See more about pneumonia and how to treat it.

Is pneumonia contagious?

The bacteria that cause pneumonia are infectious. As a result, they can spread from one person to the next.

Viral and bacterial pneumonia can spread to other people by inhalation of suspended droplets as a result of an infected person sneezing or coughing. You may suffer from these types of pneumonia when you come in contact with surfaces or objects that are contaminated with micro-organisms responsible for pneumonia such as bacteria and viruses.

You can obtain an environmental fungal pneumonia. But this is not spreading from one person to another.

Symptoms of pneumonia

Symptoms of pneumonia may be minor to very serious. May include the following:

  • reduced appetite
  • nausea/vomiting
  • headaches
  • cough that can result in mucus (mucus)
  • fever
  • sweating or chills
  • shortness of breath that occurs while doing normal activities or even during rest
  • chest pain get worsen during breathing or coughing
  • tiredness or fatigue

Other symptoms may vary depending on your age and medical condition:

  • Children younger than 5 years can breathe quickly or have wheezing.
  • Babies can generally have no symptoms, But sometimes they can vomit, run out of energy, or have trouble drinking or eating.
  • Older adults may develop lighter symptoms. They can also result in confusion or reduced body temperature.

Causes of pneumonia

There are different kinds of infective agents that can cause pneumonia.

Bacterial pneumonia

The primary reason for bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae. Other reasons include the following:

  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae
  • Legionella pneumophila

Viral pneumonia

Respiratory viruses are typically responsible for pneumonia. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Flu (influenza virus)
  • respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  • common cold (rhinoviruses)

Viral pneumonia is usually milder and can get better within 1-3 weeks without any treatment.

Fungal pneumonia

Fungi of the ground or bird droppings can cause pneumonia. They typically cause pneumonia in people who have compromised immune systems.  Examples of fungi with the potential to cause pneumonia include:

  • Cryptococcus species
  • Pneumocystis jirovecii
  • Histoplasmosis species

Types of pneumonia

Pneumonia may also be classified based on where or how it was obtained.

Hospital acquired pneumonia (HAP)

Nosocomial or hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia occurs while in hospital. This can be more serious than other types because the bacteria involved may be more resistant to antibiotics.

Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP)

Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) means pneumonia contracted outside of a hospital or medical environment.

Ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP)

When patients develop pneumonia using a ventilator, this is referred to as VAP.

Aspiration pneumonia

Aspiration pneumonia happens when you breathe bacteria into your lungs through food, drink or saliva. This type is most offen happen if you have a swallowing problem or if you are too sedative or stable from the use of medicines, alcohol, or other drugs.

Pneumonia treatment

Your treatment is going to depend on what kind of pneumonia you have, It’s severity, and your overall health.

Prescription medications

Your doctor may recommend some medicine for treating your pneumonia. Your recommendations will be dependent on the cause of your pneumonia.

Oral antibiotics are used to treat the majority of cases of bacterial pneumonia. Still take your full antibiotic treatment, even if your symptoms are relieved. Failure to complete your course may prevent the infection from dissipating, and it may be hard to treat in the future.

Antibiotics are not effective in treating viral pneumonia. Sometimes your doctor may recommend an antiviral. However, many cases of viral pneumonia become self-evident with appropriate home care.

Antifungal drugs are used to deal with fungal pneumonia. You may be required to follow this medicine for several weeks to cure the infection.

At home care

Your health care provider may also prescribe over the counter (OTC) medication to relieving pain and fever when necessary. Examples include the following:

  • acetaminophen
  • aspirin
  • ibuprofen

Your doctor may also recommend cough medication to calm your cough and allow you to rest. Notice that coughing helps to get the fluid out of your lungs, so you don’t want to pull it out completely.

You can help yourself and prevent recurrence by having proper rest and drinking plenty of fluids.

Hospitalization

If you experience very severe symptoms or have other health problems, You might need to go to the hospital. When you get to the hospital, the doctors can record your heartbeat, temperature, and breathing. Hospital-based treatments can be:

  • intravenous antibiotics injection into a vein.
  • respiratory therapy, which consists of providing specific medications directly into the lungs or teaching you how to do respiratory exercises to increase your oxygenation.
  • oxygen therapy to maintain oxygen levels in your blood circulation (received via nasal tube, facial mask or ventilator, depending on severity)

Pneumonia risk factors

Everyone may have pneumonia, but some groups are at greater risk. They are the following:

  • infants up to 2 years of age.
  • people aged 65 or over.
  • people whose immune systems are weakened as a result of illness or the use of medications, such as steroids or certain anticancer medications.
  • people affected by certain chronic diseases, people with some chronic diseases, such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, or heart failure
  • persons who have had a recent respiratory infection, such as a cold or the flu
  • those who have been hospitalized recently or are currently hospitalized, especially if they were or are on a respirator.
  • people with stroke, difficulty swallowing, or a disorder that causes immobility.
  • people who smoke, take certain kinds of drugs, or drink too much alcohol.
  • people who have been exposed to respiratory irritants, such as air pollutants, fumes and some chemicals.

Pneumonia prevention

In a number of cases, pneumonia may be prevented.

Vaccination

The primary line of defence against pneumonia is getting vaccinated. Several vaccinations may help prevent pneumonia.

Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23

These two vaccinations against pneumonia contribute to the protection against pneumonia and meningitis caused by pneumococcal bacteria. Your doctor can let you know which one might be right for you.

Prevnar 13 responds to 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends Reliable vaccine for :

  • children up to 2 years old.
  • adults over the age of 65.
  • Those 2-64 years of age with chronic diseases that increase their risk of pneumonia.

Pneumovax 23 is suitable for 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria. This is recommended by CDC for:

  • adults over the age of 65.
  • adults between 19 and 64 years old who smoke.
  • 2 to 64 year olds with chronic conditions that increase the risk of pneumonia.

Flu vaccine

Pneumonia can generally be a complication of influenza, so make sure you get vaccinated every year. The CDC recommends that all persons aged 6 months and over be vaccinated, especially those who may be at risk for influenza complications.

Hib vaccine

It works against Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), a type of bacteria that can cause pneumonia and meningitis. TCDC is recommending this vaccine for:

  • every child under the age of five.
  • older children without vaccination or adults with specific health problems.
  • People with bone marrow transplants.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Vaccinations against pneumonia will not stop every case of pneumonia. But if you are immunized, you are probably getting a milder and shorter disease as well as a reduced risk of complications.

Other prevention tips

In addition to immunization, there are other things you may want to avoid:

  • If you’re a smoker, try to quit. Smoking increases your chances of developing respiratory infections, especially pneumonia.
  • Clean your hands with soap and water on a regular basis.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze and quickly remove used fabrics.
  • Stay healthy to strengthen your immune system. Rest, eat healthily and work out regularly.

Receive immunization and follow additional preventive measures, You may be able to reduce the risk of pneumonia.

Pneumonia diagnosis

Your physician will first take your medical history. They will ask you questions about when your symptoms started and your overall health.

Then, they will perform a physical examination that consists of listening to your lungs with a stethoscope in search of abnormal sounds, such as crackling. Depending on how severe your symptoms are and the risk of complications, your doctor may also do one or more of the following tests:

Chest X-ray

An X-ray allows your doctor to identify signs of inflammation in your chest. If inflammation is present, X-ray may also help your doctor as to its location and extent.

Blood culture

In this test, a blood sample is taken to confirm an infection.Culture can also help determine the cause of your condition.

Sputum culture

In a sputum culture, a mucus sample is collected after a deep cough. It is then sent to a laboratory for analysis in order to recognise the cause of the infection.

Pulse oximetry

Pulse oximetry measures how much oxygen is in your bloodstream. A sensor placed on one your fingers can tell if your lungs provide the oxygen needed by your blood circulation.

CT scan

CT scans help you get a clearer, more detailed image of your lungs.

Fluid sample

If your doctor suspects that there is some fluid in your chest pleural space, Collect a fluid sample using a needle placed between the ribs. This test can be used to identify the cause of your infection.

Bronchoscopy

A bronchoscopy examines the respiratory tract of your lungs. To do so, a camera is used at the end of a flexible tube which is gently guided through the throat and lungs. Your doctor can carry out this test if your first symptoms are severe, or if you are in hospital and do not respond properly to antibiotic treatment.

Walking pneumonia

Walking pneumonia is a milder form of pneumonia. People suffering from walking pneumonia may not even know that they have pneumonia, because their symptoms may look like a mild respiratory infection like pneumonia.

Symptoms of walking pneumonia may involve:

  • breathlessness or dyspnea
  • chest pain
  • mild fever
  • dry cough for over 1 week.
  • chills
  • lowered appetite

In addition, viruses and bacteria, such as Streptococcus pneumoniae or Haemophilus influenzae, generally induce pneumonia. Although, in walking pneumonia, bacteria such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydophilia pneumoniae, and Legionella pneumoniae lead to the condition.

Although milder, walking pneumonia can require a longer recovery time than pneumonia.

Does pneumonia cause a virus?

Many different types of infectious agents or microbes can lead to pneumonia. Viruses are just one of these. Other agents include bacteria and fungi.

Here are a few examples of viral infections which can cause pneumonia:

  • measles
  • chickenpox (varicella-zoster virus)
  • influenza (flu) virus
  • RSV infection
  • rhinoviruses (common cold)
  • human parainfluenza virus (HPIV) infection
  • human metapneumovirus (HMPV) infection
  • adenovirus infection
  • coronavirus infection

Even though the symptoms of viral and bacterial pneumonia are much the same, viral pneumonia is generally less severe than bacterial pneumonia. According to the NIH, people suffering from viral pneumonia are at risk of developing bacterial pneumonia.

One of the most important differences between viral and bacterial pneumonia is treatment. Antibiotics do not help with viral infections. Many cases of viral pneumonia can be treated at home, although antivirals can be recommended from time to time.

Pneumonia vs. bronchitis

Pneumonia and bronchitis are both different diseases. Pneumonia is an swelling of the airbags in your lungs. Whereas bronchitis is the inflammation of the bronchis. Those are the tubes that transport the air to your lungs.

Infections lead to pneumonia as well as acute bronchitis. In addition, continuous or chronic bronchitis may occur with the inhalation of pollutants, such as cigarette smoke.

Acute bronchitis may be caused by viral or bacterial infection. Without treatment, the disease can turn into pneumonia. Sometimes it’s difficult to know that it happened. The symptoms of bronchitis and pneumonia seem much the same.

If you suffer from bronchitis, treatment is required to prevent pneumonia.

Pneumonia in kids

Pneumonia can be a frequently occurring childhood problem. Scientists estimate that there are 120 million cases of paediatric pneumonia in the world each year.

The causes of pneumonia in children can vary based on age. For example, pneumonia caused by respiratory viruses, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae is most common in children less than 5 years old.

Pneumonia caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae is common in children aged 5 to 13. Mycoplasma pneumoniae is one reason for walking pneumonia. It’s a milder form of pneumonia.

Contact your pediatrician if you notice the following:

  • has trouble breathing.
  • lacks energy
  • has changes in appetite

Pneumonia can be rapidly threatening, particularly in young children.

Cure of the pneumonia.

However, home remedies are not really treating pneumonia, You can take a number of steps to help relieve symptoms.

Coughing is one of the most commonly occurring symptoms of pneumonia. The natural ways to relieve cough include gargling salty water or drinking peppermint tea.

Things like OTC painkillers and cold compresses can relieve fever. Drinking hot water or having a nice bowl of hot soup may help to cool down.

Although home remedies may assist in relieving symptoms, Regular monitoring of your treatment plan is necessary. Take the prescribed medications according to instructions.

Pneumonia recovery

The majority of people react to treatment and recover from pneumonia. As your treatment, your recovery time will depend on what kind of pneumonia you have, His seriousness and your overall health.

Younger people can recover one week after treatment. Others may require more time to recover and may suffer from persistent tiredness. If you have severe symptoms, it can take several weeks to recover.

Consider the following actions to assist with your recovery and prevent complications:

  • Follow the treatment plan strictly, your physician has developed and take all medicines according to instructions.
  • Be sure to rest sufficiently to help your body combat the infection.
  • Drink much fluids..
  • Talk to your doctor about when you should arrange a follow-up appointment. They may want to take another chest x-ray to verify that your infection is gone.

Pneumonia complications

Pneumonia can lead to complications, especially in people whose immune system is weakened or who have chronic problems, such as diabetes.

Worsened chronic conditions

If you suffer from certain pre-existing conditions, pneumonia could make them worse. Conditions such as congestive heart failure and emphysema. For some people, pneumonia makes them more likely to have a heart attack.

Bacteremia

Bacterial pneumonia may spread to your blood. This can lead to threatening hypotension, septic shock and, in rare cases, organ failure.

Lung abscesses

They’re like pus-filled lung cavities. They may be treated with antibiotics. Sometimes they may require drainage or surgical intervention to remove pus.

Impaired breathing

You may struggle to obtain enough oxygen when you breathe. It may be necessary to use a ventilator.

Acute respiratory distress syndrome

This is a serious type of respiratory failure. He needs to be treated urgently.

Pleural effusion

If you have untreated pneumonia, fluid can develop around your lungs in your pleura, called pleural effusion. The pleura is a thin membrane that surrounds the exterior of your lungs and the interior of your thoracic cavity. The liquid may get infected and require a drain.

Death

In certain cases, pneumonia can be deadly. According to the CDC, over 49,000 pneumonia deaths took place in the United States in 2017.

Is pneumonia curable?

A variety of infectious agents are responsible for pneumonia. When properly identified and treated, many cases of pneumonia can be cured without complications.

When it comes to bacterial infections, Stopping antibiotics earlier can lead to an infection that does not completely disappear. It means your pneumonia may return. Quitting antibiotics early can also result in antibiotic resistance. Antibacterial infections are more difficult to treat.

Viral pneumonia generally stabilizes within 1-3 weeks with home-based treatment. In certain cases, you may need antiviral medication. Anti-fungal medicines treat fungal pneumonia and may require an extended period of treatment.

Pneumonia stages

Pneumonia can be classified by the area of the lungs it affects:

Bronchopneumonia

Bronchopneumonia can be present in areas in both lungs. This is typically located near or around your bronchi. It’s the tubes that lead from the airway to the lungs.

Lobar pneumonia

It affects at least one lobe of the lungs. The right lung has 3 lobes and the left lung has 2 lobes, which are definite parts of the lung.

Lobar pneumonia can be divided into four stages as a function of its progression.

  1. Congestion. The lung tissue feels heavy and congestive. A liquid containing infective microbes has accumulated in the sacs.
  2. Red hepatization. Red bloods cells and immune cells have entered into the fluid. Because of these cells, the lungs seem red and strong in appearance.
  3. Gray hepatization. The red blood cells began to disintegrate as the immune cells stayed. The degradation of red blood cells causes a change of colour, from red to grey.
  4. Resolution. Immune cells have started to clear the infection. Productive cough helps to remove any fluid left in the lungs.

Pneumonia pregnancy

Pneumonia that occurs while pregnant is referred to as maternal pneumonia. Pregnant women are at greater risk for developing illnesses such as pneumonia. This happens because of the natural suppression of the immune system that takes place during pregnancy.

The symptoms of pneumonia do not change according to the trimester. While, you may notice some of them later during your pregnancy because of other discomforts you may experience.

If you are pregnant, speak to your doctor right away when you begin to feel the symptoms of pneumonia. Maternal pneumonia can lead to various complications, such as preterm birth and low birth weight.

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