Pneumonia is a type of lung infection caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi. It causes inflammation of the alveoli (tiny air sacs) in the lungs, making it more difficult to breath.
Most people with pneumonia can be completely cured. But it can be life-threatening, and it should be taken seriously even if you’re young and fit.
Pneumonia often begin with flu-like symptoms that can become more severe over a few days. The main symptom is coughing. You’ll feel weak and tired, and you’ll probably have at least one of these symptoms too:
More severe cases may cause:
The symptoms may be especially serious in people with weakened immune systems or other illnesses.
Some people are at higher risk for developing pneumonia, including:
People in hospital for other problems sometimes develop pneumonia while they’re in the hospital. This can be for several reasons including the use of mechanical ventilators, recent antibiotic use or because their resistance to infection has been weakened by other medical problems.
Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria or viruses. The most common cause of pneumonia is a bacterium called Streptococcus pneumoniae. It’s contagious, but much less contagious than flu or a cold, because most people’s immune systems can kill the bacteria or viruses before it causes an infection.
In winter, more people get pneumonia. This is because other infections that spread easily from person to person, such as flu, are more common in the winter. Catching flu can increase the risk of developing pneumonia.
Pneumonia can be serious so it’s important to get treatment quickly. The main treatment for pneumonia is antibiotics, along with rest and drinking plenty of water. If you have chest pain, you can take pain killers such as paracetamol. It’s very important to finish your full course of antibiotics – don’t stop taking your antibiotics before the end of the course, even if you start to feel better.
Retrieved from: British Lung Foundation https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/pneumonia (accessed 20 December 2017)