• Lung Care Foundation
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Patient Support

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an acute respiratory infection that affects the tiny air sacs in your lungs, called alveoli. 

How does it 
affect your breathing?

When you breathe in, the germs enter your lungs and get settle in the air sacs which results in the growth of the germs and deteriorate your normal defence ability.

This results in the infection of lungs and alveoli get filled with pus and fluid which limit oxygen intake and make breathing painful and difficult. 


Many different germs can cause pneumonia, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

The most common types of bacterial pneumonia are:

Bacterial Pneumonia

The most common types of bacterial pneumonia are:

Viral Pneumonia

The flu virus is a common cause of viral pneumonia in adults.

Other viruses that cause pneumonia include respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinovirus, herpes simplex virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus, and more.

Fungi Pneumonia

It mostly affects those with a weak immune system.

Risk Factors

Pneumonia can affect anyone but mostly affect the high-risk group i.e. children below 2 years of age and people above 65 years. 

Other risk factors include:



Pneumonia symptoms vary depending on the type of pneumonia you have, your age, and any underlying lung disease.


The most common symptoms of pneumonia are:

Additional symptoms include:

When to Call a Doctor

If you are having difficulty breathing, cough with an increase in mucus, chest pain or if any other medical illness they should consult the doctor urgently. 


Your doctor will ask you questions regarding your symptoms and then do a physical examination.

1. Physical examination

Your doctor will listen to your lungs using a stethoscope to check for abnormal bubbling or crackling sounds that suggest pneumonia. 

2. Diagnostic test

Some of the diagnosis for pulmonary fibrosis can be done easily with the help of a CT scan which reveals a honeycomb type of appearance.


Treatment for pneumonia depends on the type of pneumonia you have and how severe it is, and if you have other chronic diseases. 

Home treatment

Most people can be treated at home by following these steps:


Sometimes, it becomes necessary to hospitalize the person.

If your pneumonia becomes so severe that you are treated in the hospital:

Recovery from Pneumonia

Better treatment is to take rest

Once you start taking antibiotics, your symptoms should begin to improve. Recovery times vary a lot from person to person and depend on your general health, age and how severe your pneumonia is.

You’ll recover gradually but eating well, exercising and doing deep breathing exercises can help in faster recovery. At first, you’ll need plenty of rest. As you begin to feel better, you can start to be a bit more active, but don’t push yourself.

A healthy young person may feel back to normal within a week of recovery from pneumonia. For middle-aged or older people, it may be weeks before they regain their usual strength and feeling of well-being.

Don’t rush recovery!

If you have taken antibiotics, your doctor will want to make sure your chest X-ray becomes normal again after you finish the whole prescription. It may take many weeks for your X-ray to clear up.


Questions for your Doctor

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

You can consult a General Physician or your family physician.

Both viruses and bacteria can cause pneumonia.

50% are caused by viruses and are less severe than bacteria. Symptoms are milder than bacterial pneumonia like cold, dry cough, headache, fever and weakness.

Yes. The Influenza vaccine and vaccines against Pneumococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) can protect against pneumonia.

It is advisable to stop smoking since it will further irritate the already swollen and inflamed lung tissue and the tracheo-bronchial tree.

The severity of pneumonia depends on a person’s general health, age and how strong is their immune system. It is also less serious when it is caused by virus.

Pneumonia can be deadly in infants less than 2 years and elders more than 65 years. It can also be fatal in persons with weakened immune systems.

Yes it is. It can spread by inhaling the small airborne particles present in the air when someone near you has coughed or sneezed.

Most healthy people would recover in one to three weeks. Seniors and immune compromised people might take several weeks depending on their general health.

Yes, it is curable. For pneumonia caused by a virus, rest, pain killers and drinking plenty of warm fluids help. For pneumonia caused by bacteria, antibiotic treatments should be completed for full recovery.

Yes pneumonia may sometimes lead to further complications.

  • Bacteraemia – Bacteria causing pneumonia may enter the blood steam and pass to other organs and rarely lead to organ failure
  • Extremely difficult breathing, requiring ventilation
  • Pleural effusion – Fluid may further develop within thin layers of tissue lining the lungs or pleura. This may call for a surgical treatment.

The answer is YES. Breastfeeding gives your child every essential ingredient to strengthen the immune system and thus fight away germs. However, at a tender age, care needs to be taken that your baby is kept in a clean and safe environment; even if you are breastfeeding him/her.