Although pneumonia is a special concern for
older adults and those with chronic illnesses, it
can also strike young, healthy people as well.
There are more than 50 kinds of pneumonia that
range in seriousness from mild to life-threatening.
In infectious pneumonia, bacteria, viruses, fungi or
other organisms attack your lungs, leading to
inflammation that makes it hard to breathe.
Pneumonia can affect one or both lungs. Infection of
both lungs is sometimes popularly referred to as
In many cases pneumonia follows a common cold or
the flu, but it also can be associated with other
illnesses or occur on its own. It's best to do
everything you can to prevent pneumonia, but if you
do get sick, recognizing and treating the disease
early offers the best chance for a full recovery.
Signs and symptoms
Pneumonia can be tricky. It often mimics a
cold or the flu, so you may
not realize you have a more serious condition. In addition, signs and
symptoms of pneumonia vary greatly, depending on any underlying
conditions you may have and the type of organism causing the infection:
Dozens of types of bacteria can cause pneumonia. Bacterial pneumonia
can occur on its own, or you may develop it after you've had an
upper respiratory infection such as a cold or the flu. Signs and
symptoms, which are likely to come on suddenly, include shaking
chills, a high fever, sweating, chest pain (pleurisy) and a cough
that produces thick, greenish or yellow phlegm. If you're an older
adult or have a chronic illness, you may have fewer or milder
symptoms. Still, don't treat pneumonia lightly. For people age 65
and older, or those with a chronic illness, pneumonia can be
About a dozen different viruses — including the same viruses that
cause influenza — are responsible for half of all cases of
pneumonia. Viral pneumonia strikes primarily in the fall and winter
and tends to be more serious in people with cardiovascular or lung
disease. It usually starts with a dry (nonproductive) cough,
headache, fever, muscle pain and fatigue. As the pneumonia
progresses, you may become breathless and develop a cough that
produces phlegm. When you have viral pneumonia you run the risk of
also developing a secondary bacterial pneumonia.
This tiny organism causes symptoms similar to those of both
bacterial and viral infections, although the symptoms appear more
gradually and are often milder than are those of other kinds of
pneumonia. If you've been told you have "walking pneumonia," it's
probably caused by mycoplasma. You may not be sick enough to stay in
bed or to seek medical care. In fact, you may never know you've had
pneumonia. Mycoplasma pneumonia spreads easily in situations where
people congregate and is common in child-care centers and among
school children and young adults. Although not bacterial, mycoplasma
pneumonia responds well to treatment with the appropriate
This bacterium causes symptoms similar to those of mycoplasma
pneumonia. Although everyone is at risk, chlamydia pneumonia is most
common in school-age children, and as many as half of Americans are
likely to have been infected by the time they turn 20.
Certain types of fungus also can cause pneumonia, especially Histoplasma capsulatum, which is common in the Mississippi and
Ohio River valleys. Most people experience few if any symptoms after
inhaling this fungus, but some develop symptoms of acute pneumonia,
and still others may develop a chronic pneumonia that persists for
Pneumonia caused by P. carinii is the most common
opportunistic infection affecting Americans with AIDS. People whose
immune systems are compromised by treatment with corticosteroids,
organ transplants or cancer also are at risk. The signs and symptoms
of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) include a cough that
doesn't go away, fever and trouble breathing. In the past, P.
carinii was considered a type of parasite, but more recent
studies suggest that this microorganism is more closely related to
Your lungs are two spongy organs surrounded by a moist membrane (the
pleura). When you inhale, air is carried through the windpipe (trachea)
to your lungs in two major airways called bronchi. Inside your lungs,
the bronchi subdivide nearly 20 times into a million smaller airways
(bronchioles), which finally end in clusters of tiny air sacs called
At each stage of this process, there are mechanisms to protect your
lungs from infection. In fact, you're frequently exposed to bacteria and
viruses that can cause pneumonia, but your body normally keeps them from
entering your lungs and causing a problem. But sometimes — for reasons
that aren't always well understood — these microorganisms can get past
your body's defenses.
Pneumonia is sometimes classified according to where or how you're
exposed to the disease:
This refers to pneumonia you acquire in the course of your daily
life — at school, work or the gym, for instance.
Hospital-acquired (nosocomial) pneumonia.
If you're hospitalized, you're much more likely to develop
pneumonia, especially if you are on a mechanical ventilator, are in
the intensive care unit or have a compromised immune system. This
type of pneumonia can be extremely serious, especially for older
adults, young children and people living with HIV/AIDS.
Unfortunately, it remains a common problem in spite of stringent
efforts to control it.
This type of pneumonia occurs when foreign matter is inhaled
(aspirated) into your lungs — most commonly when the contents of
your stomach enter your lungs after you vomit. This most often
happens when a brain injury or other condition affects your normal
caused by opportunistic organisms.
This type of pneumonia strikes people with compromised immune
systems. Organisms that aren't harmful for healthy people can be
extremely dangerous for those with AIDS, sickle cell disease and
other conditions that impair the immune system. For example, P.
carinii pneumonia almost never occurs in otherwise healthy
people. Medications that suppress your immune system, such as
corticosteroids or chemotherapy for cancers such as leukemia and
lymphoma, also can put you at risk of opportunistic pneumonia.
You're at increased risk of pneumonia if you're age 65 or older. Very
young children, whose immune systems aren't fully developed, also are at
risk of pneumonia. You're also more likely to develop pneumonia if you:
These include immune deficiency diseases such as HIV/AIDS and
chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, emphysema or
diabetes. You're also at increased risk if you've had your spleen
removed, or your immune system has been impaired by chemotherapy or
long-term use of immunosuppressant drugs.
Smoke, or abuse
alcohol or drugs.
Smoking damages your airways, and alcohol interferes with the action
of white blood cells that fight infection. If you inject illegal
drugs, there's a chance you may develop injection-site infections
that can travel through your bloodstream to your lungs.
Are exposed to
certain chemicals or pollutants.
Your risk of developing some uncommon types of pneumonia increases
if you work in agriculture, construction or around certain
industrial chemicals. Exposure to air pollution or toxic fumes can
also contribute to lung inflammation.
Live in certain
parts of the country.
Two types of fungus that occur in the soil in certain parts can cause lung infections and pneumonia. Coccidioidomycosis, for example, is widespread throughout Southern
California and the desert Southwest. The majority of people exposed
to the fungus don't get sick, but a few develop severe pneumonia.
Histoplasmosis is a
serious lung infection caused by a soil-borne fungus that's most
prevalent in the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys. Infants, young
children, older adults and people with chronic lung disease or HIV/AIDS
are at increased risk of severe symptoms.
medicine with Complementary and Alternative medicine
and mind-body-spirit approaches to health and
Live Blood Analysis
of blood under a specialized high powered ultra-dark
field microscope, reveals anomalies in the blood.
tool for prevention.
is recognized by most as
the most powerful and versatile therapy known in
alternative health because it plays a vital role in
maintaining the well-being of the body.
Contact the Doctor
contact the doctor
This information is
provided for general medical education purposes only and
is not meant to substitute for the independent medical
judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and
treatment options of a specific patient's medical
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any
decision made or action taken in reliance upon the
information provided through this web site.
Chiang Mai 50230, Thailand