Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs. The infection may be caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses. Pneumonia causes inflammation in your lung’s air sacs, also referred to as alveoli. The alveoli fill with fluid or pus, making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms of pneumonia can range from mild to life threatening. In fact, pneumonia causes more deaths worldwide than any other illness. The severity of pneumonia usually depends on the cause of the inflammation or by the type of organism causing the infection, a person’s age, and their general health.

What are the symptoms of pneumonia?

There are two types of pneumonia, viral and bacterial.

Viral pneumonia typically starts like a cold and slowly but steadily gets worse. In most cases, respiratory viruses can cause pneumonia, especially in young children and the elderly. Pneumonia is usually not serious and lasts a short time. However, the flu virus can cause viral pneumonia to be severe or fatal. It’s especially harmful to pregnant women or individuals with heart or lung issues. Invading bacteria can cause complications with viral pneumonia. Your child may have the following symptoms:

  • fever of 101.5 degrees F or more
  • a worsening cough
  • rapid breathing
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • wheezing

Viral pneumonia is usually less severe than the bacterial one. But if your child gets it, she may be more susceptible to bacterial pneumonia in the future.

Bacterial pneumonia can affect anyone at any age. It can develop on its own or after a serious cold or flu. The most common cause of bacterial pneumonia is streptococcus pneumoniae. Bacterial pneumonia can also be caused by Chlamydophila pneumonia or legionella pneumophila. Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia is sometimes seen in those who have weak immune systems, due to illnesses like AIDS or cancer. Bacterial pneumonia comes with a sudden onset of symptoms:

  • fever up to 103 degrees F
  • rapid breathing
  • coughing
  • bluish-grey nails and lips
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • dehydration

So keep an eye on your baby for signs she is getting worse. She may need to go to hospital if she's having trouble feeding or breathing.

Other Types of Pneumonia

Mycoplasma Pneumonia

Mycoplasmas are not viruses or bacteria, but they have traits common to both. They are the smallest agents of disease that affect humans. Mycoplasmas generally cause mild cases of pneumonia, most often in older children and young adults.

Many additional types of pneumonia affect immune-compromised individuals. Tuberculosis and pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) generally affect persons with AIDS. In fact, PCP can be one of the first signs of illness in people with AIDS.

Less common types of pneumonia can also be serious. Pneumonia can be caused by inhaling food, dust, liquid, gas, and by various fungi.


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