What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection in one or both of the lungs. It causes the air sacs of the lungs to fill up with fluid or pus. It can range from mild to severe, depending on the type of germ causing the infection, your age, and your overall health.What causes pneumonia?
Bacterial, viral, and fungal infections can cause pneumonia.
Bacteria are the most common cause. Bacterial pneumonia can occur on its own. It can also develop after you've had certain viral infections such as a cold or the flu. Several different types of bacteria can cause pneumonia, including
- Streptococcus pneumoniae
- Legionella pneumophila; this pneumonia is often called Legionnaires' disease
- Mycoplasma pneumoniae
- Chlamydia pneumoniae
- Haemophilus influenzae
Viruses that infect the respiratory tract may cause pneumonia. Viral pneumonia is often mild and goes away on its own within a few weeks. But sometimes it is serious enough that you need to get treatment in a hospital. If you have viral pneumonia, you are at risk of also getting bacterial pneumonia. The different viruses that can cause pneumonia include
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
- Some common cold and flu viruses
- SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19
Fungal pneumonia is more common in people who have chronic health problems or weakened immune systems. Some of the types include
- Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP)
- Coccidioidomycosis, which causes valley fever
Anyone can get pneumonia, but certain factors can increase your risk:
- Age; the risk is higher for children who are age 2 and under and adults age 65 and older
- Exposure to certain chemicals, pollutants, or toxic fumes
- Lifestyle habits, such as smoking, heavy alcohol use, and malnourishment
- Being in a hospital, especially if you are in the ICU. Being sedated and/or on a ventilator raises the risk even more.
- Having a lung disease
- Having a weakened immune system
- Have trouble coughing or swallowing, from a stroke or other condition
- Recently being sick with a cold or the flu
The symptoms of pneumonia can range from mild to severe and include
- Cough, usually with phlegm (a slimy substance from deep in your lungs)
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain when you breathe or cough
- Nausea and/or vomiting
The symptoms can vary for different groups. Newborns and infants may not show any signs of the infection. Others may vomit and have a fever and cough. They might seem sick, with no energy, or be restless.
Older adults and people who have serious illnesses or weak immune systems may have fewer and milder symptoms. They may even have a lower than normal temperature. Older adults who have pneumonia sometimes have sudden changes in mental awareness.What other problems can pneumonia cause?
Sometimes pneumonia can cause serious complications such as
- Bacteremia, which happens when the bacteria move into the bloodstream. It is serious and can lead to septic shock.
- Lung abscesses, which are collections of pus in cavities of the lungs
- Pleural disorders, which are conditions that affect the pleura. The pleura is the tissue that covers the outside of the lungs and lines the inside of your chest cavity.
- Kidney failure
- Respiratory failure
Sometimes pneumonia can be hard to diagnose. This is because it can cause some of the same symptoms as a cold or the flu. It may take time for you to realize that you have a more serious condition.
To make a diagnosis, your health care provider
- Will ask about medical history and symptoms
- Will do a physical exam, including listening to your lungs with a stethoscope
- May do tests, including
- Chest x-ray
- Blood tests such as a complete blood count (CBC) to see if your immune system is actively fighting an infection
- Blood culture to find out whether you have a bacterial infection that has spread to your bloodstream
If you are in the hospital, have serious symptoms, are older, or have other health problems, you may also have more tests, such as
- Sputum test, which checks for bacteria in a sample of your sputum (spit) or phlegm (slimy substance from deep in your lungs).
- Chest CT scan to see how much of your lungs is affected. It may also show if you have complications such as lung abscesses or pleural effusions.
- Pleural fluid culture, which checks for bacteria in a fluid sample that was taken from the pleural space
- Pulse oximetry or blood oxygen level test, to check how much oxygen is in your blood
- Bronchoscopy, a procedure used to look inside your lungs' airways
Treatment for pneumonia depends on the type of pneumonia, which germ is causing it, and how severe it is:
- Antibiotics treat bacterial pneumonia and some types of fungal pneumonia. They do not work for viral pneumonia.
- In some cases, your provider may prescribe antiviral medicines for viral pneumonia
- Antifungal medicines treat other types of fungal pneumonia
You may need to be treated in a hospital if your symptoms are severe or if you are at risk for complications. While there, you may get additional treatments. For example, if your blood oxygen level is low, you may receive oxygen therapy.
It may take time to recover from pneumonia. Some people feel better within a week. For other people, it can take a month or more.Can pneumonia be prevented?
Vaccines can help prevent pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria or the flu virus. Having good hygiene, not smoking, and having a healthy lifestyle may also help prevent pneumonia.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Pneumonia FDA Approved Drugs
- Mgt specific bacterial infections. treatment pts w/ community acquired pneumonia or bacterial sinusitis due to confirmed, or suspected b-lactamase producing pathogens & s. pneumoniae with reduced susceptibility to penicillin (mic=2mc/ml).
Felter's Materia Medica on Pneumonia
...ne is depended upon. Such a state occurs in the low stage of typhoid and other fevers, and in lobar pneumonia. In such conditions arnica is most useful and compares well with strychnine or atropine, o......y extreme forms of diarrhoea and dysentery when the discharges escape control. In so-called typhoid pneumoniawhich is but pneumonia with typhoid conditions marked asthenia, feeble circulation, gre...1
... named asclepias is of the very greatest value in acute coryza, la grippe, acute bronchitis, pleuro-pneumonia, and pneumonia, both catarrhal and croupous. Its use should be begun early, usually in ass......t use of aconite or bryonia, or both, and in any case it will enhance the value of these agents. In pneumonia and in bronchitis asclepias is best adapted to the acute stage, where the lesions seem to ......all lessen its liability to confusion with other appropriate remedies. In the convalescent stage of pneumonia and other respiratory lesions, when expectoration is scanty and dyspnea threatens, small d...1
The dried bark of Aspidosperma Quebracho-blanco, Schlechtendal (Nat. Ord. Apocynaceae). An evergreen tree of Chili and the Argentine Republic.... / ...is used in cardiac and renal asthma, emphysema, the dyspnoea of capillary bronchitis and of chronic pneumonia, advanced bronchitis, phthisis, bronchial asthma and uncomplicated asthma with insufficien...1
The recent root and leaves of Baptisia tinctoria, Robert Brown (Nat. Ord. Leguminosae), a perennial shrub-like plant, indigenous to North... / ...ly predominantly typhoid, is equally influenced for good by baptisia. Typhoid dysentery and typhoid pneumonia, so called, are helped by it just in proportion to the typhoid element present. In dysente... / ...healing of the ulcerated surfaces. In all of the local disorders mentioned, baptisia should be given internally as well as applied locally.1
...all forms of pleurisy, it is particularly valuable in that form that comes on insidiously. In pleuropneumonia, it should be given to promote absorption of exuded serum. In la grippe, it is one of the ......e, it is one of the best of remedies, both for the cough and the debility. We use it confidently in pneumonia to control pain, when present; but above all, to allay the harsh, harassing cough. Bryonia...1
I. Cinnamomum Saigonicum. Dried bark of an undetermined species of Cinnamomum. Chiefly from China. II. Cinnamomum Zeylanicum. Dried bark of... / ...looked in recent years, though the use of the latter has been revived as an antiseptic stimulant in pneumonia. That they possess antibacterial virtues we believe will be found true should investigatio...1
...ory disorders of the respiratory tract, being especially valuable in the declining stages of bronchopneumonia, of a low but inactive type, with much depression, prostration after cough or effort, copi......tion, and general debility. For convalescence from such states and after bronchitis, la grippe, and pneumonia it is an ideal remedy. In those of a phthisical build-the hippocratic type, much hacking c...1
The leaves of Eucalyptus Globulus, Labillardiere. Collected from the older parts of the tree. (Nat. Ord. Myrtaceae.) A native tree of Australia;... / ...itis, bronchorrhea, and the debility, with difficult expectoration, lingering in the wake of bronchopneumonia and lobar pneumonia are conditions in which it is of very great value. Agents of this type... / ...Used according to indications as given above, eucalyptus is a very satisfactory and pleasant medicine. It is best given in syrup or glycerin.1
...its effects to nausea and vomiting. For children it is best administered in an aromatized syrup. In pneumonia it relieves chest pains and cough, and for these purposes may be employed in the early sta......r these purposes may be employed in the early stage of acute lobar, but more effectually in broncho-pneumonia. After the active stages have passed it again becomes useful to allay the irritable after-...1
The whole herb Lycopus virginicus, Linné (Nat. Ord. Labiatae). Common in shady, moist and boggy places throughout the United States. Dose, 1 to... / ... prevent hemorrhage. In chronic bronchitis, with copious expectoration, and in chronic interstitial pneumonia, it has rendered good service. While by no means to be rated as an antitubercular agent, i... / ...in simple diarrhea (lientery), dysenteric diarrhea, and especially in the diarrhea of phthisis, and the gastric disturbances of the drunkard.1
The leaves and tops of Mentha piperita, Smith (Mentha X piperita L.) (Nat. Ord. Labiatae). Europe and the United States. Dose, 60 to 120 grains. Common Names: Peppermint. Principal... / ...rts, frequently eases the pain of tonsillitis and gives relief in the cough of acute bronchitis and pneumonia.1
Rectified Oil of Turpentine, Rectified Turpentine Oil. Description.A thin colorless liquid corresponding to the properties described under Oleum... / ... applied it is valuable to assist in relieving deep-seated and other inflammations, as in pleurisy, pneumonia, bronchitis, laryngitis, pharyngitis, peritonitis, arthritis, and other congestive and inf...1
The stem-bark of Prunus serotina, Ehrhart or Prunus virginiana, Miller, collected in the autumn and carefully dried (Nat. Ord. Rosaceae). Woods of... / ...in atonic dyspepsia, and in convalescence from fevers and inflammations, especially after pleurisy, pneumonia, and la grippe. While the syrup is an effectual and popular preparation, the cold infusion... / ...temporarily destroys its value, and unless a good quality of bark, carefully preserved, is used, the syrup may have little value.1
Physician's Materia Medica on Pneumonia
The leaves of RHUS RADICANS, Lin. Laxative. diaphoretic, diuretic, stimulant to nervous system, cardiac sedative. Used in paralytic affections, in erysipelas, eczema, the various exanthems, dropsy, in eneuresis and in typhoid pneumonia and other adynamic fevers.2
The root of POLYGALA SENEGA, Lin. Stimulant expectorant, diuretic, emmenagogue; in large doses emetic and cathartic. A valuable remedy in typhoid pneumonia, in chronic bronchitis with profuse expectoration and in the secondarv stages of spasmodic croup; used also in amenorrhea.2
Physician's Therapeutics Memoranda on Pneumonia
Only at the very outset are arterial sedatives useful, veratrum being best. When consolidation has begun, pyrexia is to be combat ed by cold sponging, while the action of the heart is reinforced if necessary by digitalis and alcoholic stimulants. Elixir Digitalin Compound, N., B. & Co., is often useful. Strychnine and atropine hypodermatically are important remedies if cyanosis is extreme; in halations of oxygen are also of great value in such cases. Combat untoward symptoms as they arise, relyi...2
2) Nelson, Baker & Co., 1904, Physician's Handy Book of Materia Medica and Therapeustics, Detroit, Michigan.