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Definition

Pneumonia is an infection that affects the small airways and air sacs in the lungs.

Development of Pneumonia in the Air Sacs of the Lungs
pneumonia lung fluid
Normal gas exchange is interrupted by fluid build-up.
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Pneumonia is sometimes described by where and how you were infected. Types of pneumonia include:

  • Community-acquired—from the community, such as a school, gym, or at work
  • Nosocomial—in a hospital or healthcare setting
  • Aspiration—happens when foreign matter is inhaled into the lungs, such as food, liquid, saliva, or vomit

Causes

Pneumonia may be caused by:

  • Infection from specific types of:
    • Bacteria
    • Viruses
    • Fungi
  • Aspiration
  • Other specific germs
  • Chemical exposure and irritation

Aspiration
lung aspiration food
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Risk Factors

Pneumonia is more common in older adults. Other factors that may increase your chance of pneumonia include:

Symptoms

Pneumonia may cause:

  • Cough
  • Chest pain
  • Increased mucus production
  • Fever and chills
  • Trouble breathing
  • Weakness

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may suspect pneumonia based on your symptoms, and breath and lung sounds. Tests can confirm diagnosis and determine the specific germ causing the pneumonia.

Your bodily fluids may be tested with:

  • Blood tests and/or cultures
  • Sputum culture
  • Urine tests

Pulse oximetry measures blood oxygen levels.

Images may be taken of your lungs. This can be done with:

Treatment

Treatment of pneumonia depends on:

  • What caused the pneumonia
  • Severity of symptoms
  • Other factors, like your overall health

People with severe pneumonia may need to be hospitalized.

Medications

Your doctor may advise:

  • Antibiotics—for pneumonia caused by bacteria
  • Antifungal medications—for pneumonia caused by fungi
  • Antiviral medications—for pneumonia caused viruses, such as influenza
  • Over-the-counter medications to reduce fever and discomfort
  • Vitamin C may be advised if you don't get enough in your diet
  • Oxygen therapy may be needed in more severe cases

Prevention

Certain vaccines may prevent pneumonia:

  • Flu v