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Pneumonia: Introduction

Pneumonia is a general term for a wide variety of conditions that cause an inflammation of the lungs. Pneumonia is most often caused by a bacterial infection (bacterial pneumonia) or a viral infection (viral pneumonia). However, pneumonia can also be caused by a fungal infection, yeast infection, trauma, or from inflammation of the lungs due to exposure to toxic substances, such as poisonous gases.

Inflammation of the lungs by any of these causes leads to symptoms that can include a wet cough that produces white or yellow phlegm and shortness of breath. Fever can be a symptom of pneumonia caused by an infection. Pneumonia is a common complication of a variety of diseases and can lead to more complications, which can be serious, even life threatening. Pneumonia is a frequent cause of death. For more information about additional symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of pneumonia.

Pneumonia is a common disease that can occur at any time of the year. It is most common in smokers and people who have chronic lung infections and diseases, such as lung cancer, acute bronchitis, congestive heart failure, or emphysema. Other people at risk for pneumonia include those who take drugs that suppress the immune system, such as corticosteroids and chemotherapy. People who have diseases that result in an impaired immune system, such as HIV/AIDS, are also at risk. In addition, any person who is chronically ill or very weak and is unable to cough up phlegm from the lungs is also susceptible to pneumonia.

Making a diagnosis of pneumonia begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, smoking history, and exposure to infections and lung irritants. A physical examination is also performed and includes listening with a stethoscope to the sounds that lungs make during respiration. Lung sounds that may point to a diagnosis of pneumonia include a bubbling or crackling sound and decreased lung sounds. A physician or nurse practitioner will also tap on the chest with the fingers to listen for certain sounds that may also point to a diagnosis of pneumonia.

Diagnostic testing generally includes a chest X-ray. Depending on a person's condition and medical history, testing may also include lung function tests, such as a spirometry, which measures how much air is moved in and out of the lungs during breathing. A CT scan of the chest can help to evaluate such factors as the presence of other lung conditions, including COPD and congestive heart failure.

A sample of phlegm that is coughed up from the lungs may be tested for the presence of bacteria or other pathogens. The lungs may also be examined in a procedure called a bronchoscopy. In a bronchoscopy, a flexible tube fitted with a tiny camera is inserted through the mouth and throat to view the inside of the lungs. Tissue or phlegm samples can also be taken in this procedure and are examined in the laboratory.

The level of oxygen in the blood is generally tested using a painless device called a pulse oximetry, which is clipped onto a fingertip. For people who have a severe case of pneumonia with serious, life-threatening shortness of breath, an arterial blood gas test may be done. Is this test a sample of blood taken from an artery is measured very accurately for many parameters of effective breathing, including the oxygen level in the blood. Blood cultures may also be done to check the blood for infection.

It is possible that a diagnosis of pneumonia can be missed or delayed because symptoms may be mild or attributed to other conditions. Mild cases of pneumonia that do not require hospitalization are often referred to as walking pneumonia. For information on misdiagnosis and to learn about diseases that can mimic pneumonia, refer to misdiagnosis of pneumonia.

The treatment for pneumonia involves a multifaceted approach. Treatment plans vary depending on the cause, the severity of the symptoms, the presence of complications, general health, and an individual's medical history. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of pneumonia....more »

Pneumonia: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of pneumonia may be delayed or missed because some symptoms, such as cough, shortness of breath, fever, fatigue, and wheezing can be similar to symptoms of other conditions and diseases. These include upper respiratory infection, influenza, congestive heart failure, COPD, acute bronchitis$, pleural effusion, and cold.

It is important to seek ...more misdiagnosis »

Causes of Pneumonia:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Pneumonia. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

» Review Causes of Pneumonia: Causes | Symptom Checker » | Assessment Questionnaire »

Home Diagnostic Testing and Pneumonia

Home medical tests possibly related to Pneumonia:

Causes of Types of Pneumonia:

Review the causes of these more specific types of Pneumonia:

Review causes of more specific types of Pneumonia:

Pneumonia: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Pneumonia, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

Symptom Checker

Symptom Checker

Pneumonia Treatments

One goal of treatment of pneumonia is to control symptoms, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, until a person recovers. Another goal is to minimize the development of serious complications, such as severe shortness of breath and hypoxia. With treatment, generally healthy adults can often recover from bacterial pneumonia or viral pneumonia. ...Pneumonia Treatments

Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Pneumonia may include:

Review further information on Pneumonia Treatments.

Alternative Treatments for Pneumonia

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed as possibly helpful for Pneumonia may include:

Stories from Users for Pneumonia

Real-life user stories relating to Pneumonia:

Message Boards for Pneumonia

Symptom specific forums: The following patient stories in our interactive forums and message boards relate to Pneumonia or relevant symptoms:

Diagnostic tests for Pneumonia:

Various tests are used in the diagnosis of Pneumonia. Some of these are listed below :

  • Physical examination
    • Inspect sputum for color and consistency if possible
    • Blood pressure, pulse rate, temperature
    • Examine lungs noting breath sounds and their intensity and alsothe presence of added sounds. Crackles suggest congestive heart failure, pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, lung fibrosis or bronchiectasis. Wheezes suggest asthma, chronic bronchitis or emphysema
  • Blood tests
    • Full blood count for evidence of infection
  • more tests...»

Pneumonia: Animations

Medications or substances causing Pneumonia:

The following drugs, medications, substances or toxins are some of the possible causes of Pneumonia as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

Pneumonia: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Pneumonia may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:

Causes of Similar Symptoms to Pneumonia

Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Pneumonia:

Assessment Questionnaire: Questions your doctor may ask (and why!)

During a consultation, your doctor will use various techniques to assess the symptom: Pneumonia. These will include a physical examination and possibly diagnostic tests. (Note: A physical exam is always done, diagnostic tests may or may not be performed depending on the suspected condition) Your doctor will ask several questions when assessing your condition. It is important to openly share any pertinent information to help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

It is also very important to bring an up-to-date list of all of your all medical conditions, medications including dosages, and names of numbers of any specialist you see.

Create your printable checklist here.

See Pneumonia Assessment Questionnaire (25 listings)

Pneumonia: Deaths

Read more about causes and Pneumonia deaths.

Misdiagnosis and Pneumonia

Chronic lung diseases hard to diagnose: Some of the chronic lung diseases are difficult to diagnose. Even the well-knowns conditions such as asthma or lung cancer often fail to be diagnosed early. Some of more »

Pneumonia: Research Related Doctors & Specialists

Other ways to find a doctor, or use doctor, physician and specialist online research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Pneumonia

Research extensive quality ratings and patient safety measures for hospitals, clinics and medical facilities in health specialties related to Pneumonia:

Pneumonia: Related Rare Diseases

Rare types of medical conditions and diseases in related medical categories:

Pneumonia: Undiagnosed Conditions

Conditions that are commonly undiagnosed in related areas may include:

Causes of Pneumonia listed in Disease Database:

Other medical conditions listed in the Disease Database as possible causes of Pneumonia as a symptom include:

Article Excerpts about Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a lung disease that can be caused by a variety of viruses, bacteria, and sometimes fungi. The U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate nearly 90,000 people in the United States died from one of several kinds of pneumonia in 1999. In the United States, pneumonia is the fifth leading cause of death [Natl Vital Stat Report 47 (25), 10/5/1999]. Rates of infection are three-times higher in African Americans than in whites and are 5- to 10-times higher in Native-American adults and 10-times higher in Native-American children [J Infect Dis;170:368-76, 1994]. (Source: excerpt from Pneumococcal Pneumonia, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID)

Pneumonia is a lung disease that can be caused by a variety of viruses, bacteria, and sometimes fungi. The U... (Source: excerpt from Pneumococcal Pneumonia, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID)

Definitions of Pneumonia:

Inflammation of the lungs with consolidation and exudation.
- (Source - Diseases Database)

Respiratory disease characterized by inflammation of the lung parenchyma (excluding the bronchi) with congestion caused by viruses or bacteria or irritants
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)

Inflammation of the lungs with consolidation and exudation.
- (Source - CRISP)

An inflammatory infection that occurs in the lung.
- (Source - National Cancer Institute)

Organs affected by Pneumonia:

The list of organs typically affected by Pneumonia may include, but is not limited to:

Detailed list of causes of Pneumonia

The list below shows some of the causes of Pneumonia mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Pneumonia?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Pneumonia. Of the 241 causes of Pneumonia that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 7 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 3 causes are "common" diseases
  • 4 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 5 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 31 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 203 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Pneumonia:

The following list of conditions have 'Pneumonia' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Pneumonia or choose View All.

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Conditions listing medical complications: Pneumonia:

The following list of medical conditions have Pneumonia or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.























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Causes of Pneumonia Based on Risk Factors

This information shows analysis of the list of causes of Pneumonia based on whether certain risk factors apply to the patient:

  • Travel - has the patient travelled recently?
  • Diabetes - history of diabetes or family history of diabetes?

    Doctors and specialists: Who should I consult about Pneumonia?

    Depending on the seriousness of the onset of Pneumonia, you may want to consult one of the following medical professionals.

    Important:In extreme cases, always seek advice from emergency services :

    What are the alternative names for Pneumonia:

    Pneumonitis, Pulmonary inflammation
    - (Source - Diseases Database)

    Classifications of Pneumonia:

    Subtypes of Pneumonia:

    Pneumonia, non-infectious (16 causes)

    Medical Conditions associated with Pneumonia:

    Respiratory symptoms (5166 causes), Lung symptoms (3280 causes), Respiratory tract symptoms (5166 causes), Infection-related symptoms (1293 causes), Throat symptoms (3410 causes), Mouth symptoms (6864 causes), Breathing symptoms (3381 causes), Breath symptoms (3023 causes), Head symptoms (10192 causes), Face symptoms (8109 causes)

    Symptoms related to Pneumonia:

    Cough (1407 causes), Chest pain (1053 causes), Lung pain, Cold-like symptoms (712 causes), Flu-like symptoms (168 causes), Bronchiectasis, Cryptococcus neoformans, Gastric content aspiration, Haemophilus influenzae, Histoplasmosis, Influenza (168 causes), Klebsiella sp, Listeria monocytogenes, Melioidosis, Nocardia, Pneumococcus, Proteus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa

    Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

    Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

    These general medical articles may be of interest:

    Medical News summaries about Pneumonia

    Our news pages contain the following medical news summaries about Pneumonia and many other medical conditions:

    Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Pneumonia:

    More Ways To Research Medical Signs and Symptoms:


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