Pneumonia – Symptoms, cause, treatment, home remedy


Pneumonia is a common infection in one or both of your lungs caused by germs, including bacteria, viruses and fungi. When the germs that cause pneumonia reach your lungs, the lungs’ air sacs (alveoli) become inflamed and fill up with fluid. This causes the symptoms of pneumonia, such as a cough, fever, chills, and trouble breathing.

Most healthy people recover from pneumonia in 1 to 3 weeks, but it can be life-threatening. Pneumonia kills thousands every year. It is most serious for children under age 2, people older than age 65, people with chronic health problems, and people with weakened immune systems.


There are more than 30 different causes to pneumonia. Common causes include:


Viruses cause approximately one third of pneumonia cases every year in U.S, the flu virus is one of the most common viruses, others include respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinovirus, herpes simplex virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus, and more.


The most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in the U.S. is Streptococcus pneumoniae, affecting over 900,000 Americans every year. Children under the age of 5 and adults over 65 have a recommendation to receive a pneumococcal vaccination to help protect them against the Streptococcus (pneumococcus) bacteria.

Learn more about available pneumococcal vaccine here

Others include Klebsiella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Legionella, and more.

Some people catch pneumonia during a hospital stay or staying in a long-term care facilities. Hospital-acquired pneumonia or health care-acquired pneumonia may be more serious because the bacteria infected can be more resistant to antibiotics.

Mycoplasma pneumoniae

Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a type of “atypical” bacteria, they are the smallest free-living agents of disease. Pneumonia caused by M. pneumoniae is sometimes referred to as “walking pneumonia” since symptoms tend to be milder than pneumonia caused by other germs.

Mycoplasma pneumonia usually affects people younger than 40. Pneumonia caused by M. pneumoniae in children can be serious and may require care in a hospital.


Pneumonia caused by fungi is most common in people with chronic health problems or weakened immune systems, and in people who have inhaled large doses of the organisms. Among all the fungal pneumonia, pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) is a serious infection caused by the fungus Pneumocystis jirovecii, which is sometimes seen in patients with HIV/AIDs

Aspiration pneumonia

Aspiration pneumonia occurs when you inhale food, drink, vomit or saliva into your lungs. Aspiration is more likely in people who had a brain injury or swallowing problem, or excessive use of alcohol or drugs.

Ventilator-associated pneumonia

Ventilator-associated pneumonia, or VAP, is a lung infection that affects the person who is on a ventilator. It’s usually a bacterial infection.

A patient may need a ventilator when he or she is very ill or during and after surgery. Ventilators can be life-saving, but they can also increase a patient’s chance of getting pneumonia by making it easier for germs to get into the patient’s lungs.

Read how to prevent the ventilator-associated pneumonia here

Most of the time, these infections can be treated with antibiotics. The choice of antibiotics depends on which specific germs are causing the infection.


Chemical pneumonia is a type of lung irritation, due to inhaling chemical fumes or breathing in and choking on certain chemicals.

Some common dangerous inhaled substances include:

  • Chlorine gas (breathed in from cleaning materials such as chlorine bleach, during industrial accidents, or near swimming pools)
  • Grain and fertilizer dust
  • Noxious fumes from pesticides
  • Smoke (from house fires and wildfires)



Depending on the type of germ causing the infection, and your age and health condition, the signs and symptoms of pneumonia may vary.

Viral pneumonia

The most common symptoms of viral pneumonia are:

  • Cough, with or without mucus, sometimes with blood mucus
  • Fever
  • Shaking chills
  • Shortness of breath (may only occur when you exert yourself)

Other symptoms include:

  • Confusion, often in older people
  • Excessive sweating and clammy skin
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sharp or stabbing chest pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or cough
  • Fast breathing and heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Lips and fingernails turning blue

Bacterial pneumonia

Common symptoms are:

  • High fever up to 105 F
  • Cough, with greenish, yellow, or bloody mucus
  • Shaking chills
  • Short of breath
  • Feeling very tired

Other symptoms include:

  • Confusion, often in older people
  • Excessive sweating and clammy skin
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sharp or stabbing chest pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or cough
  • Fast breathing and heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Lips and fingernails turning blue

Mycoplasma pneumonia

Common symptoms include any of the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Chills
  • Cough, usually dry and not bloody
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fever (may be high)
  • Headache
  • Sore throat

Less common symptoms include:

  • Ear pain
  • Eye pain or soreness
  • Muscle aches and joint stiffness
  • Neck lump
  • Rapid breathing
  • Skin lesions or rash

Fungal pneumonia

Common symptoms include any of the following:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Chills
  • Fatigue (tiredness)

The fever can be mild to high.

Chemical pneumonia

Acute symptoms may include:

  • Air hunger (feeling that you cannot get enough air)
  • Breathing that sounds wet or gurgling (abnormal lung sounds)
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Unusual sensation (possibly burning feeling) in the chest

Chronic symptoms may include:

  • Cough (may or may not occur)
  • Progressive disability (related to shortness of breath)
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath with only mild exercise



The diagnosis of pneumonia is confirmed by tests.

  • Physical exam. Your doctor will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope. If you have pneumonia, your lungs may make crackling, bubbling, and rumbling sounds when you inhale.
  • Blood tests. A blood panel and a CRP test is used to confirm an infection and to try to identify the type of organism causing the infection – viral, bacterial or other types.
  • Arterial blood gases. It’s to see if enough oxygen is getting into your blood from the lungs.
  • Chest X-ray. The X-ray image shows the extent and location of the infection.
  • Pulse oximetry. This measures the oxygen level in your blood. Pneumonia can prevent your lungs from moving enough oxygen into your bloodstream.
  • Sputum test. A sample of fluid from your lungs (sputum) is taken after a deep cough and analyzed to help pinpoint the cause of the infection.
  • CT scan. If your pneumonia isn’t clearing as quickly as expected, your doctor may recommend a chest CT  scan to obtain a more detailed image of your lungs.
  • Pleural fluid culture. A fluid sample is taken by putting a needle between your ribs from the pleural area and analyzed to help determine the type of infection.
  • Bronchoscopy. It’s a procedure used to look into the lungs’ airways, which would be performed if you are hospitalized and antibiotics are not working well.



Treatment for pneumonia involves curing the infection and preventing complications. The treatment depends on the type of pneumonia you have and how severe it is, and if you have other chronic diseases.

Viral pneumonia. Your doctor may use antiviral medication. Viral pneumonia usually improves in one to three weeks.

Bacterial pneumonia. Antibiotics (azithromycin, clarithromycin, or erythromycin) are commonly used. Patients with serious underlying diseases(heart, lung, kidney) are often given more powerful or higher dose antibiotics.

Mycoplasma pneumonia. When necessary doctors will give antibiotics. Macrolide drugs are the preferred treatment for children and adults. Macrolides include azithromycin (Zithromax®) and clarithromycin (Biaxin®).

Fungal pneumonia. There’re a variety of antifungal drugs and medication available, including bifonazole, oxiconazole, albaconazole, amorolfin, and voriconazole. Prophylactic fungal agents, such as fluconazole, are also helpful in fight infections.

Other medication. Cough medicine and fever reducer are usually used to relieve discomfort and help patients to rest.

When you use a cough medicine, you need to use the lowest dose that can help you rest, not at a dose that completely calms the cough, since cough is the natural way to loosen and move fluid from your lungs.

Fever reducers are common, including aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).

People older than 65 or younger than 2, with severe symptoms or underlying diseases may need intensive care or hospitalization.



A few steps can reduce your risk of getting pneumonia.

Get Vaccinated

  • Get a shot against pneumococcal pneumonia, a common form of bacterial pneumonia. There are two types of vaccination available, PVC13 and PPSV23. Vaccine is most recommended to children under the age of 5, adults over 65, adults with chronic health problems and adults with weakened immune system.
  • Get a flu shot every year to prevent seasonal influenza. The flu is a common cause of pneumonia, so preventing the flu is a good way to prevent pneumonia.
  • There are several other vaccines that can prevent infections by bacteria and viruses that may lead to pneumonia, including pertussis, chicken pox and measles.

Wash your hands

  • Wash your hands with soap frequently, especially after blowing your nose, going to the bathroom, diapering, and before eating or preparing foods.
  • Use a 75% alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you can’t wash your hands.

Don’t smoke

  • Smoking damages your lungs’ natural defenses against respiratory infections.

Boost your immune

  • Get enough sleep, exercise regularly and diet with rich fruits and vegetables.


Home remedy

  • Get plenty of rest, and stay away from the crowd.
  • Stay hydrated, drink enough fluid, especially water.
  • Drink ginger honey tea.
  • Add ginger and garlic into your meals
  • Take echinacea supplements
  • Supplements made a few of these:
    • mullein leaves
    • ginger
    • rosemary leaves
    • horehound herb
    • cinnamon
    • cayenne
    • honey
    • basil
  • Drink home-made fruit/vegetable juice with apple, orange, carrot, ginger, beet

Astragalus or Huang qi is a traditional herb medicine from China, it’s good to boost immune before people get the infection. However, the Chinese traditional medicine forbids the use of astragalus during an infection. After you recover from the pneumonia, you can start drink astragalus tea to gain energy.


Related posts

1. Washing Hands Correctly To Stay Away From Flu

2. What pneumonia vaccine is available

3. What Are the Facts about Klebsiella Pneumoniae?

4. How to Prevent Legionella Pneumonia

5. What Precautions Can Help Prevent MRSA Pneumonia

6. Can Pneumonia Lead to Septic Shock

7. Sputum Culture, Bacterial Test

8. What is bronchopneumonia


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