Pneumonia Summary
Pneumonia is inflammation of one or both lungs with consolidation. Pneumonia is frequently but not always due to infection. The infection may be bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic. Symptoms may include fever, chills, cough with sputum production, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
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Pneumonia facts

  • Pneumonia is a lung infection that can be caused by different types of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.
  • Symptoms of pneumonia may include cough with sputum production, fever, sharp chest pain on inspiration (breathing in), and shortness of breath.
  • Children and babies who develop pneumonia often do not have any specific signs of a chest infection but develop a fever, appear quite ill, and can become lethargic.
  • Pneumonia is suspected when a doctor hears abnormal sounds in the chest, and the diagnosis is confirmed by a chest X-ray.
  • Bacteria and fungi causing pneumonia can be identified by sputum culture. In some cases, detection of bacteria causing pneumonia can be done with urine tests (for example, Legionella, Pneumococcus). In others, blood tests demonstrate the body's immune response to certain infections. The results of these blood tests often identify the organism after the patient has recovered.
  • A pleural effusion is a fluid collection around the inflamed lung. This often results when the pneumonia is close to the chest wall and causes inflammation in the pleurae surrounding the lung.
  • Bacterial and fungal (but not viral) pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics and antifungal agents, respectively.

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection of one or both lungs which is usually caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. Prior to the discovery of antibiotics, one-third of all people who developed pneumonia subsequently died from the infection. Currently, over 3 million people develop pneumonia each year in the United States. Over a half a million of these people are admitted to a hospital for treatment. Although most of these people recover, approximately 5% will die from pneumonia. Pneumonia is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/22/2013

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