Facebook Twitter instagram Youtube
World Pneumonia Day – Everything You Need to Know About Pneumonia

World Pneumonia Day – Everything You Need to Know About Pneumonia

What is Pneumonia or Bronchopneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection that affects one or both lungs in an individual. The carrier of such infection could be bacteria, viruses, or fungi. This lung infection leads to inflammation in the air sacs of the lungs which ends up making it difficult to breathe.

The pneumonia infection, whether it’s bacterial or viral, is contagious and can easily spread to another person through inhaling the airborne droplets by sneezing or coughing in the shared space or coming in contact with the infected person by any means.

One can also get infected by pneumonia by getting in contact with the surfaces and objects touched by the infected person. Fungal pneumonia, however, doesn’t spread from person to person and is caused by coming in contact with the environment.

This World Pneumonia Day, let’s understand pneumonia, its types, how pneumonia is cured, its symptoms, and more to protect ourselves from acquiring one.


Types of Pneumonia

  • Hospital-acquired Pneumonia (HAP) – Such type of pneumonia is acquired by a patient or caregiver during the hospital stay. This specific pneumonia can get the most severe of all as the carrier bacteria of such pneumonia may be resistant to antibiotic treatment.
  • Community-acquired Pneumonia (CAP) – This refers to the kind of pneumonia that is contracted by the individual outside of the medical or hospital setting.
  • Ventilator-associated Pneumonia – VAP or ventilator-associated pneumonia occurs through the prolonged use of a ventilator on the patient.
  • Aspiration Pneumonia – When an individual gets pneumonia by inhaling bacteria from food, drinks, and saliva into their lungs, it is called aspiration pneumonia. This is more common in individuals with a swallowing issue or those who are sedated on the use of medications, drugs, and alcohol.


Pneumonia Symptoms

The range of pneumonia symptoms can vary from mild to moderate and life-threatening. Here are some of the common pneumonia symptoms:

  • Cough followed by phlegm or mucus
  • Fever
  • Chills and rigours or sweating
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing even while lying down or doing normal activities
  • Chest pain that gets bad when the person breathes or coughs
  • Unexplained tiredness or fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling of nausea and vomiting
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Feeling of confusion
  • Hypothermia (lower-than-normal body temperature)


Pneumonia Risk Factors

Though pneumonia is such a disease that can affect anyone from any age group, there are certain pneumonia risk factors that increase the risk quotient of some individuals over others. Here are the risk factors of pneumonia:

  • Infants from birth to 2 years old
  • People over 65 years of age
  • People with a compromised immune system due to HIV, pregnancy, or use of certain drugs and steroids for cancer.
  • Individuals with chronic health issues like:
    • Diabetes
    • Asthma
    • COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
    • Heart failure
    • Cystic fibrosis
    • Liver or kidney disease
    • Sickle cell anaemia
  • People with a recent hospitalization history, specifically those who were on ventilator support
  • Individuals with difficulty swallowing due to certain brain disorders like stroke, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and head injury
  • Individuals with consistent exposure to hazardous materials that interfere with the lung’s normal functioning, air pollution, and toxic fumes
  • People who live or work in claustrophobic environments like jail or a small medical setting
  • Smokers who engage in heavy smoking which makes it difficult for mucus to get out of their airways
  • People who drink or engage in substance abuse end up with a weaker immune system


How is Pneumonia Diagnosed?

Your doctor will start on the lines of pneumonia diagnosis by first taking your medical history and presenting symptoms. They will then proceed with a physical exam including listening to the sound of your lungs with a stethoscope for any wheezing or crackling sounds. Based on the intensity of your symptoms and further risk of your complications, you may be advised to undergo the following tests:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Blood culture test
  • Sputum culture test
  • Pulse oximetry
  • CT scan
  • Fluid tapping
  • Bronchoscopy


How Pneumonia is Cured?

The treatment for pneumonia depends on the severity of your symptoms, your overall general health, and the type of pneumonia you have. Your treating doctor may prescribe certain medications to treat pneumonia based on the specific cause of pneumonia. OTC antibiotics are effective at treating most cases of bacterial pneumonia. However, antibiotics don’t work on the viruses and doctors usually prescribe antiviral medications in such cases.

Though home treatment can’t cure pneumonia, one can resort to certain home remedies too to relieve the nagging pneumonia symptoms. Gargling salt water, having peppermint tea, and steam inhalation help get relief from cough.

Cold compresses help bring down the fever, drinking warm water or a hot bowl of soup helps with the chills and getting adequate rest helps in the overall recovery.


How to Prevent Pneumonia?

Here are some simple ways in which you can prevent or reduce your chances of getting pneumonia:

  • Resort to Vaccination – Getting flu shots for certain types of pneumonia helps in reducing your likelihood of getting one. Discuss the same with your healthcare provider to stay updated with the vaccination guidelines and the kind of vaccinations available now.
  • Get Your Children Vaccinated – There are separate vaccination shots for children less than 2 years of age and for those between 2 to 5 years of age. All school and day-care going children should get vaccinated for the pneumococcal vaccine. It is highly recommended by doctors to get flu shots for children older than 6 months of age.
  • Practice Safe Hygiene Habits – To reduce your risk of getting contracted with bacterial agents that end up causing pneumonia and other respiratory infections, practice safe and recommended hygiene habits including frequent hand washing or the use of an effective alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • Quit Smoking – Sine smoking or passive smoking is one of the major risk factors for pneumonia, quitting smoking is highly recommended to strengthen your body’s natural defence against respiratory infections including pneumonia.
  • Boost Your Immune System – Do everything it takes to strengthen your immune system. Get adequate sleep, eat a healthy and balanced diet, and exercise regularly.




Dr Saket Sharma
Respiratory & Sleep Medicine
Meet The Doctor
Back to top