Pneumonia causes

Pneumonia causes

Types of pneumonia: causes, symptoms and treatments

Pneumonia is a type of lung infection that causes the air sacs in the lungs to fill with fluid.

There are different types of pneumonia. In most cases, pneumonia is caused by a bacterial or viral infection. In rarer cases, pneumonia can be caused by inhaling fluid into the lungs or by a fungal infection.

However, doctors are not always able to identify a cause of pneumonia: one study found that in up to 62% of pneumonia cases, no pathogen such as a virus, bacteria or fungus is identified. .

When people discuss the types of pneumonia, they also consider the severity of the infection. For example, foot pneumonia is a non-medical term used to refer to a mild case of pneumonia, where the patient may still be standing and walking. People also distinguish cases of pneumonia based on where they were recovered: for example, hospital-acquired or community-acquired pneumonia.

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Viral infections are one of the most common types of pneumonia. About 27% of patients with pneumonia have an identifiable viral cause. Viruses that affect the airways can cause inflammation of the lungs and lead to pneumonia.


The most common viruses associated with viral pneumonia are:

If you have any of these viral infections, in most cases you will not develop pneumonia. However, if you start to experience symptoms of pneumonia, such as shortness of breath or a gray or blue tinge on the skin, you should contact your doctor.


Viral pneumonia infections are usually mild, and most people recover without medical intervention within two to three weeks.

If you have viral pneumonia, you should sleep a lot and drink a lot. Antibiotics will not work for viral pneumonia, although in some cases your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medicine such as Tamiflu (oseltamivir), Relenza (zanamivir), or Rapivab (peramivir).

Having viral pneumonia can increase your risk of developing bacterial pneumonia, which is often more serious.


A bacterial infection can also lead to pneumonia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 14% of patients with pneumonia had an identifiable bacterial cause. Bacterial pneumonia can develop on its own or after a person has had viral pneumonia.


Common causes of bacterial pneumonia include:

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae: This bacteria causes pneumococcal disease and is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia.
  • Legionella pneumophila: This bacteria thrives in man-made water systems, including hot tubs, plumbing systems, and cooling towers. It leads to a serious type of pneumonia known as Legionnaires’ disease.
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae: This type of bacteria is common in crowded living spaces like dorms and prisons. It leads to a mild infection often called foot pneumonia.
  • Chlamydia pneumoniae: This type of bacteria usually causes mild pneumonia, most commonly in people over 40.
  • Haemophilus influenzae: This type of bacteria is more likely to cause pneumonia in people with existing lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


Bacterial pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics such as Zithromax (azithromycin), Biaxin (clarithromycin) or Erythrocin (erythromycin). It is important to take your medications as prescribed and to let your doctor know if your symptoms change.


Bacterial pneumonia can be serious and lead to complications, including bacteremia, a bacterial infection of the blood also known as septic shock. Bacterial infections can progress quickly, so don’t hesitate to seek help if your symptoms get worse.


Foot pneumonia is a type of bacterial infection also known as mycoplasma pneumonia. This type of pneumonia is mild and you can usually continue with your daily activities when you have it, hence the name foot pneumonia. Walking pneumonia often spreads in crowded living spaces, such as dormitories or prisons.


The most common symptom of foot pneumonia in adults is a persistent dry cough. The cough often continues to worsen, eventually turning into a productive cough that causes mucus to appear. Children often have a fever or sluggishness before developing a cough that gets worse at night.


Most symptoms of walking pneumonia, including fever and body aches, start to go away within five days. However, the cough caused by foot pneumonia can last a month or more.

If you think you are suffering from walking pneumonia, you should see your doctor, who may be able to prescribe an antibiotic to help you recover faster.


Fungal pneumonia is caused when fungi in the environment enter and begin to grow in the lungs. This most often occurs in people who have a weakened immune system or other chronic health problems.


The most common causes of fungal pneumonia are:

  • Pneumocystis pneumonia: This fungus can cause severe pneumonia. It most often affects people living with HIV / AIDS or those who have had an organ transplant.
  • Coccidioidomycosis: This fungus causes valley fever and is found in the southwestern United States.
  • Histoplasmosis: This fungus is found in bird and bat droppings in the Mississippi and Ohio valleys. People who are repeatedly exposed to histoplasmosis are at risk for pneumonia.
  • Cryptococcus: This fungus is common in all soils, but is only likely to cause pneumonia in people with weakened immune systems.


Fungal pneumonia is often serious, especially since the most susceptible people have other health problems. Antifungal drugs can help treat fungal pneumonia.

Aspiration and Chemistry

Aspiration pneumonia occurs when a person sucks or breathes a foreign substance into their lungs. This most often happens with food or drink. When a person swallows, a small amount of food or drink can go down the “wrong pipe” into the lungs rather than the stomach.

This can happen without a person realizing it, especially in the elderly, those under anesthesia, or those with other health conditions.


When a person takes in food or drink, bacteria can get into the lungs. This can lead to the development of bacterial pneumonia.

In other cases, a person can breathe chemicals that damage the lungs. This can lead to chemical pneumonia, an inflammation of the lungs that can progress to pneumonia. Common household chemicals like chlorine, fertilizers, and smoke can all cause chemical pneumonia, as can stomach acid inhaled into the lungs.


Treatment for aspiration or chemical pneumonia will depend on the substance you inhaled and its ability to be cleared from the lungs.


Chemical pneumonia can lead to chronic lung problems. If you think you have inhaled chemicals, it is best to see a doctor.

A word from Verywell

Pneumonia is a common health problem, but it can be very serious. It is a leading cause of hospitalization and death among American adults, with 1.3 million Americans diagnosed with pneumonia in a hospital each year.

Once you know the different types of pneumonia and their causes, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of pneumonia. These should include:

  • Practice good hygiene, including frequent hand washing, to prevent the spread of infection
  • Quit smoking and reduce exposure to environmental toxins
  • Follow nutritional guidelines to help keep your immune system healthy

There is no way to fully protect yourself against pneumonia, but understanding the disease can better equip you to deal with it.

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Pneumonia causes

Causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Aspiration pneumonia is inflammation of the lungs, usually caused by an infection contracted by breathing in foreign objects – it is also known as anaerobic pneumonia.

A study in Japan looked at the risk factors that contribute to the development of aspiration pneumonia. Even though it is a leading cause of death among aging populations, not much is still known about the disease.

Participants were divided into groups based on episodes of aspiration pneumonia. Based on the analysis, the researchers were able to develop a list of risk factors that increase the chances of aspiration pneumonia, including:

  • Aspiration of sputum
  • Daily oxygen therapy
  • Dependence on food support
  • Urinary catheterization
  • Dementia
  • Dehydration

Deterioration of swallowing over a three-month period

Aspiration pneumonia causes

Bacteria and viruses are the most common causes of aspiration pneumonia. When we are healthy the immune system fights bacteria and viruses to keep us healthy, but if the germs are too strong they can overpower the immune system and contribute to disease.

Normally, air is the only substance that enters our lungs, so when food, drink, vomit, or saliva is inhaled into the lungs, it results in aspiration pneumonia. The chances of developing aspiration pneumonia are higher in a person who has a problem with their gag reflex, which can occur in people with brain damage or dysphagia.

Other causes of aspiration pneumonia include:

  • Esophageal Disorders
  • Drinking large amounts of alcohol
  • Comatose state
  • Reduced vigilance levels
  • Swallowing problems
  • Anesthesia
  • Aging
  • Dental problems that interfere with chewing or swallowing
  • Sedatives

Complications of aspiration pneumonia

If left untreated, aspiration pneumonia can lead to complications, including spreading the infection to other parts of the body. If the infection spreads to the bloodstream, it can become very dangerous and even fatal.

In some cases, aspiration pneumonia can cause shock or respiratory failure. If a patient has a condition that makes it difficult for them to swallow, the inflammation can make aspiration pneumonia worse and prevent proper healing.

A severe infection can cause long-term scarring of the lungs.

Related: Is Pneumonia Contagious?

Symptoms of aspiration pneumonia

Symptoms of aspiration pneumonia are similar to other forms of pneumonia and include:
Symptoms of aspiration pneumonia

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • wheezing
  • To cough
  • Tired
  • Skin discoloration – usually blue
  • Cough with sputum, blood or mucus
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Bad breath
  • Excessive sweating

Symptoms of aspiration pneumonia will appear after a day or two.

Diagnosis of aspiration pneumonia

Your doctor will perform a variety of tests to determine a diagnosis of aspiration pneumonia. These tests include:

  • Culture of sputum
  • Complete blood count
  • Arterial blood gas test
  • CT scans of the chest
  • Swallowing tests
  • Blood culture
  • Pulmonary radiography

Aspiration pneumonia treatment methods

Treatment for aspiration pneumonia depends on the severity of the condition. If the aspiration is severe, treatment may need to take place in a hospital setting. Otherwise, antibiotics can be prescribed and taken while resting at home.

Prevent aspiration pneumonia

Prevention of aspiration pneumonia is possible by following these helpful tips:

  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, which can lead to aspiration.
  • Recognize the signs of aspiration.
  • Receive proper dental care.
  • Manage conditions that increase your risk for aspiration pneumonia, such as lung infections, seizures, strokes, swallowing disorders, and neurological disease.

Aspiration pneumonia prognosis

The prognosis is largely based on how early a person is diagnosed and treated, and how well they were before aspiration pneumonia. Recovery is also based on the type of bacteria a person inhales.

Aspiration pneumonia is usually a more serious type of pneumonia, and patients with aspiration pneumonia are the most likely to go to the hospital or even die. In general, however, many patients survive, and early detection of aspiration pneumonia is the key to survival.

If a patient is older, doctors will pay special attention to their immunity to reduce the risk of life-threatening outcomes.

It is important that patients take a full course of antibiotics and do not stop them just because they start to feel better after a few days. This ensures that the bacteria are completely killed, so the risk of recurrence is minimal.

If a patient has a pre-existing condition that affects swallowing, recovery may be prolonged. In some cases, patients may develop lung scars or lung abscesses.

If you think you have aspiration pneumonia, be sure to see a doctor right away to reduce your risk of complications and improve the prognosis.

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