Pneumonia is an infection of the lung tissue caused by various bacterial , viruses or fungi. It happens when an infection causes the air sacs in your lungs (your doctor will call them alveoli) to fill with fluid or pus. That can make it hard for you to breathe in enough oxygen to reach your bloodstream i a lung infection that can range from mild to so severe that you have to go to the hospital.
Anyone can get this lung infection. But infants younger than age 2 and people over age 65 are at higher risk. That’s because their immune systems might not be strong enough to fight it.
There are different type of pneumonia, depending on their cause.
- Bacterial pneumonia: The most common cause is the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae), but many different bacteria can cause pneumonia
- Viral pneumonias; This is cause by syncytia virus (RSV) and influenza types A and B, known as the flu
- Aspiration pneumonia: This can happen when a person breathes food, liquids, or stomach contents into the lungs. This type is not contagious.
- Fungal pneumonia: This can results from a condition such as valley fever, caused by the Coccidioides fungus.
- Hospital-acquired pneumonia: This can occur in patients being treated for other conditions, for example, those attached to a respirator, or breathing machine.
Regardless of the cause, the signs and symptoms will be similar.
The first symptoms of pneumonia usually resemble those of a cold or flu. The person then develops a high fever, chills, and cough with sputum.
Common symptoms include:
- rusty or green phlegm, or sputum, coughed up from lungs
- fast breathing and shortness of breath
- shaking chills
- chest pain that usually worsens when taking a deep breath, known as pleuritic pain
- fast heartbeat
- fatigue and weakness
- nausea and vomiting
- muscle pain
- confusion or delirium, especially in older adults
Symptoms can vary depending on other underlying conditions and the type of pneumonia
Treatment depends on the type and severity of the pneumonia
- Bacterial types of pneumonia are treated with antibiotics
- Viral types of pneumonia are usually treated with rest and plenty of fluids. Antiviral medications can be used in influenza.
- Fungal types of pneumonia are usually treated with antifungal medications.
Doctors commonly prescribe over-the-counter (OTC) medications to help manage the symptoms of pneumonia. These include treatments for reducing fever, reducing aches and pains, and suppressing coughs.
In addition, it is crucial to rest and drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated helps to thin out thick phlegm and mucus, making it easier to cough up.
Hospitalization for pneumonia may be required if symptoms are especially bad or if an individual has a weakened immune system or other serious illnesses.
In the hospital, patients are generally treated with intravenous antibiotics and fluids. They may need a supplemental oxygen supply.
Even with treatment, some people with pneumonia, especially those in high-risk groups, may experience complications, including:
- Bacteria in the bloodstream (bacteremia). Bacteria that enter the bloodstream from your lungs can spread the infection to other organs, potentially causing organ failure.
- Difficulty breathing. If your pneumonia is severe or you have chronic underlying lung diseases, you may have trouble breathing in enough oxygen. You may need to be hospitalized and use a breathing machine (ventilator) while your lung heals.
- Fluid accumulation around the lungs (pleural effusion). Pneumonia may cause fluid to build up in the thin space between layers of tissue that line the lungs and chest cavity (pleura). If the fluid becomes infected, you may need to have it drained through a chest tube or removed with surgery.
- Lung abscess. An abscess occurs if pus forms in a cavity in the lung. An abscess is usually treated with antibiotics. Sometimes, surgery or drainage with a long needle or tube placed into the abscess is needed to remove the pus.
is pneumonia contagious
The germs that cause pneumonia are contagious. This means they can spread from person to person.
Bacterial and viral pneumonia can spread to others through inhalation of airborne droplets from a sneeze or cough. You can also get these types of pneumonia by coming into contact with surfaces or objects that are contaminated with pneumonia-causing bacteria or viruses.
You can contract fungal pneumonia from the environment. However, it doesn’t spread from person to person.