Pneumonia is an infection of one or both of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. It is a serious infection in which the air sacs fill with pus and other liquid.
There are more than 30 different causes of pneumonia, and they’re grouped by the cause. The main types of pneumonia are:
Anyone can get pneumonia. However, the following groups are at the highest risk:
The symptoms of bacterial pneumonia include:
Early symptoms of viral pneumonia are the same as those of bacterial pneumonia, which may be followed by:
Mycoplasma pneumonia has somewhat different symptoms, which include a severe cough that may produce mucus.
Diagnosis is usually made based on your recent health history (such as surgery, a cold, or travel exposures) and the extent of the illness. Based on these factors, your healthcare provider may diagnose pneumonia simply on a thorough history and physical exam. The following tests may be used to confirm the diagnosis:
Treatment depends on the type of pneumonia you have. Most of the time, pneumonia is treated at home, but severe cases may be treated in the hospital. Antibiotics are used for bacterial pneumonia. Antibiotics may also speed recovery from mycoplasma pneumonia and some special cases. Most viral pneumonias don’t have specific treatment. They usually get better on their own.
Other treatment may include eating well, increasing fluid intake, getting rest, oxygen therapy, pain medicine, fever control, and maybe cough-relief medicine if cough is severe.
Check with your healthcare provider about getting immunizations. The flu is a common cause of pneumonia. Because of that, getting a flu shot every year can help prevent both the flu and pneumonia.
There is also a pneumococcal vaccine. It will protect you from a common form of bacterial pneumonia. Children younger than age 5 and adults ages 65 and older should get this shot.
Most people with pneumonia respond well to treatment, but pneumonia can be very serious and even deadly.
You are more likely to have complications if you are an older adult, a very young child, have a weakened immune system, or have a serious medical problem like diabetes or cirrhosis. Complications may include:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider: