Pneumonia - Overview, Causes, Types, Treatment

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection of one or both of your lungs. When the lungs get infected, various things happen, including

  • Your airways enlarge (become inflamed)
  • Mucus and other fluids fill the air sacs of the lungs.

How does pneumonia spread?

When someone coughs or sneezes, droplets of fluid carrying the pneumonia bacteria or virus are released into the air and inhaled by others. Touching an item previously touched by a person with pneumonia (transferring the germs) or contacting a tissue used by the sick person and then touching your mouth or nose may also lead to pneumonia.

What causes pneumonia?

A diverse range of bacteria, viruses, and fungus may cause pneumonia. Pneumonia is often characterized based on the kind of germ that causes it and the region where the individual got infected.

The most prevalent kind of pneumonia is community-acquired pneumonia. Outside of a hospital or other healthcare center, this sort of pneumonia happens. Among the causes are:

Mycoplasma pneumonia and other atypical bacteria Other bacteria with distinct characteristics may cause various forms of pneumonia. Mycoplasma pneumonia (which causes "walking" pneumonia), Chlamydia pneumonia (which causes Chlamydia pneumonia), and Legionella pneumonia (which causes Legionnaires' disease) are examples of these pathogens.

Viruses Pneumonia may be caused by any virus that causes a respiratory tract infection (infections of the nose, throat, trachea [windpipe], and lungs). Cold and flu viruses (influenza) may cause pneumonia.

Hospital-acquired pneumonia occurs during hospitalization for another disease. Because the individual is already unwell, this sort of pneumonia may be more dangerous, and standard medications may be less effective. Antibiotics cause bacteria to adapt and alter over time, making them less effective (called antimicrobial resistance). People in hospitals transfer drug-resistant germs to others, resulting in more severe and difficult-to-treat pneumonia cases. People who use breathing equipment (ventilators) are more likely to have hospital-acquired pneumonia.

Long-term care facility-acquired pneumonia develops in nursing homes or outpatient, extended-stay clinics. Drug-resistant bacteria are encountered in this context, just as they are in hospitalized patients.

Aspiration pneumonia Aspiration occurs when solid food, liquids, saliva, or vomit enter the trachea (windpipe) and enter the lungs rather than the esophagus and stomach. If you are unable to cough up these things, they will linger in your lung tissue and may get infected, resulting in pneumonia.

In adults, what are the signs and symptoms of bacterial vs viral pneumonia?

Pneumonia symptoms may vary from mild (cold or flu-like symptoms), sometimes known as "walking pneumonia," to severe. The severity of your pneumonia relies on the specific bacterium that is causing it, your general health, and your age.

Bacterial pneumonia: Bacterial pneumonia symptoms may appear gradually or unexpectedly. Among the symptoms are:

  • High fever (up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Tiredness (fatigue)
  • Breathing difficulties: fast breathing or lack of breath
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Cough with mucus (might be greenish in color or contain a small amount of blood)
  • Chest and/or abdominal discomfort, particularly whilecoughing or heavy breathing
  • Appetite loss
  • Mental confusion or shifts in consciousness (especially in older adults)

Symptoms of viral pneumonia generally appear over a few days. Early symptoms are comparable to those of the flu and include

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Headache
  • Throat discomfort
  • Appetite loss
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness

How is pneumonia identified?

The severity of the sickness and your recent health history (such as surgery, a cold, or travel exposures) are typically used to make a diagnosis. Your healthcare professional may diagnose pneumonia based only on a comprehensive history and physical exam based on these characteristics. To confirm the diagnosis, the following tests may be used:

  • X-ray of the chest. Internal tissues, bones, and organs, including the lungs, are imaged during this procedure.
  • Blood tests This test can determine whether or not an infection exists and whether or not the illness has migrated to the bloodstream (blood cultures). The quantity of oxygen in your circulation is measured via arterial blood gas measurement.
  • Culture of sputum This test is performed on material coughed up from the lungs and into the mouth. It is often used to determine whether or not the lungs are infected.
  • Pulse oximetry. A little piece of equipment that monitors the quantity of oxygen in the blood is known as an oximeter. A tiny sensor is taped or attached to the tip of the finger. When the machine is turned on, the sensor emits a little red light. The test is not painful, and the red light does not get hot.
  • CT scan of the chest. This imaging process uses X-rays and computer technologies to generate clear, detailed horizontal or axial pictures (commonly referred to as slices) of the body. A CT scan provides comprehensive pictures of any region of the body, such as the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans provide more information than standard X-rays.
  • Bronchoscopy. A flexible tube is used to do a direct examination of the bronchi (the primary airways of the lungs) (called a bronchoscope). It aids in the evaluation and diagnosis of lung disorders, the assessment of obstructions, and the collection of tissue and/or fluid samples for testing.
  • Culture of pleural fluid. A fluid sample is obtained from the pleural space for this test. The gap between the lungs and the chest wall. A long, thin needle is inserted into the pleural area via the skin between the ribs. The fluid is drawn into a syringe linked to a needle. It is submitted to a lab to be analyzed to determine which bacteria is causing pneumonia.

What is the treatment for pneumonia?

The treatment for pneumonia is determined by the microorganisms that cause it.

Bacterial pneumonia Antibiotics are often used to treat bacterial pneumonia. Your overall health, any health concerns you may have, the kind of drugs you are now taking (if any), your recent (if any) usage of antibiotics, any signs of antibiotic resistance in the local population, and your age all influence your antibiotic decision. Pain relievers and fever reducers may also be beneficial. Consult your doctor about whether you should use a cough suppressant. It is critical to be able to cough in order to clean your lungs.

Viral pneumonia Antibiotics are not used to treat viral pneumonia. (Antibiotics may be used in certain circumstances to combat a bacterial infection that is also present.) Typically, over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers are advised. Your doctor may also recommend other medications and therapies, like breathing treatments and mucus-loosening exercises.

Fungal pneumonia If a fungus is the cause of your pneumonia, antifungal medication will be administered.