Pneumonia: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Diet

Pneumonia is an infection that develops when the air sacs in the lungs become infected. The infection can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. One of the most common causes of pneumonia is a virus called influenza. It can be life-threatening if not treated properly.

Pneumonia can range in seriousness from mild to life-threatening. It is most serious for infants and young children, people older than age 65, and people with health problems or weakened immune systems. Pneumonia can be spread from person to person or through droplets in the air.

Pneumonia is the most common bacterial disease of humans, and the third leading cause of death. Thirty percent of deaths from pneumonia are due to aspiration pneumonia, a serious complication that occurs when food, liquid or vomit enters the lungs.

This article will give you a general overview of pneumonia and its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, prevention as well as diet.


The signs and symptoms of pneumonia vary from mild to severe, depending on factors such as the type of germ causing the infection, and your age and overall health. Mild signs and symptoms often are similar to those of a cold or flu, but they last longer.

The symptoms of pneumonia include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough with phlegm production
  • Chest pain
  • Rapid breathing
  • Headache
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion or changes in mental awareness (in adults age 65 and older)
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Lower than normal body temperature (in adults older than age 65 and people with weak immune systems)

The most common symptoms of pneumonia are fever and cough. Coughing up mucus may also occur. Symptoms may vary depending on the type of pneumonia that is present. For example, bacterial pneumonia often causes a high fever with shaking chills, while viral pneumonia usually does not cause a fever or shaking chills but may cause chest pain and breathing difficulty.

Newborns and infants may show no signs of the infection or they may vomit, fever and cough, or have difficulty breathing or eating. They may also appear restless or tired without energy.


The most common cause of pneumonia is bacterial infection. Viral infections are less common and usually affect the elderly. Fungal infections occur mainly in people with a weakened immune system. Parasites are rare but can be spread through contaminated water or food. It can affect both children and adults. The symptoms of pneumonia vary based on the cause, but may include fever, cough, chest pain, difficulty breathing, headache and fatigue.

Pneumonia is an infection of one or both lungs that causes inflammation in the air sacs. The most common cause of pneumonia is a virus that spreads through droplets from coughing or sneezing. Pneumonia can also result from bacteria or fungi in the lungs (bacterial pneumonia) or from inhaling smoke, dust, chemicals, or other substances (chemical pneumonia). Pneumonia may be caused by a combination of these agents.

Viral pneumonias are usually milder than bacterial pneumonias and they can be caused by influenza virus or respiratory syncytial virus. Fungal pneumonias are rarer but they can be serious if left untreated.


The most common bacteria that causes pneumonia are Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae type b and Mycoplasma pneumoniae. This type of pneumonia can occur on its own or after you’ve had a cold or the flu. It may affect one part (lobe) of the lung, a condition called lobar pneumonia.

Mycoplasma pneumoniae can also cause pneumonia. Typically, people who have this type of pneumonia feel better after only a few days rest. ‘Walking pneumonia’ is an informal name given to this type of milder form of the condition, which is not always severe enough to need bed rest.


This form of pneumonia is most common for people with chronic health problems or low immune systems. The fungi that cause it can be found in soil or bird droppings and increase in abundance depending up on the weather.


The most common cause of pneumonia is the influenza virus. Other viruses that can cause pneumonia are parainfluenza virus, adenovirus, and respiratory syncytial virus including coronavirus. Coronavirus (COVID-19) may cause pneumonia, which can become severe.

Some viruses that cause colds and the flu can also cause pneumonia. Viral pneumonia is common in kids younger than 5 and can be severe when it happens.

Risk factors

Pneumonia is a serious lung infection that can be fatal. It is caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Risk factors include:

  • Age (especially children who are 2 years old or younger)
  • Smoking
  • Chronic illness
  • Obesity
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke, air pollution, chemicals in the workplace
  • Being over 65 years old
  • Having a weakened immune system


Pneumonia is a lung infection that can be caused by different types of bacteria or viruses. It often starts with a common cold and then leads to more serious problems like pneumonia.

Complications of pneumonia can be life-threatening and may include:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Pleural effusion (a buildup of fluid in the chest cavity)
  • Pleuritis (inflammation of the membrane that lines the inside surface of the chest wall)
  • Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in one or both lungs)
  • Sepsis (a blood infection)
  • Thromboembolism (blood clot in a vein)


Pneumonia is a respiratory infection that causes inflammation in the lungs. It is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.

A doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about symptoms and possible risk factors, such as recent exposure to someone with pneumonia or near-drowning.

  • A blood test may also be ordered to measure the level of C-reactive protein, which indicates inflammation in the body.
  • Chest x-rays are usually taken to assess lung damage and rule out other conditions, such as a collapsed lung or pneumonia caused by an underlying disease like cancer.


Treatment for pneumonia includes antibiotics to kill the infection and bronchodilators to open up airways.

  • There are two types of treatment for bacterial pneumonia:
    • Antibiotics and supportive care such as oxygen therapy to help with breathing.
  • Treatment for viral or fungal pneumonia may include antiviral drugs to reduce the symptoms and antibiotics to kill the bacteria.
  • Some of the medications used in pneumonia treatment are:
    • Antibiotics Examples: amoxicillin, cefuroxime axetil, cefepime, ceftriaxone
    • Antivirals Examples: ribavirin , interferon, peginterferon
    • Aids to breathing Examples: oxygen, nebulizers, corticosteroids, bronchodilators


Pneumonia is a respiratory disease caused by bacteria, virus and fungi. It can be prevented by:

  • Getting vaccinated: The most common way to prevent pneumonia is through vaccination. This includes getting vaccinated against the flu, pneumococcal disease, and other types of pneumonia.
    • Doctors typically recommend a different pneumonia vaccine for young children, including those under the age of 2 and those between ages 2 to 5 who are at risk due to conditions like asthma, Down syndrome and other chronic illnesses. Children who attend a daycare center should also get the vaccine. Doctors also recommend flu shots for children older than 6 months.
  • Practicing good hand-washing: In order to stay healthy, it is important to wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who have the illness: It is also important to stay away from people who are infected with the bacteria that causes pneumonia so you don’t catch it yourself.
  • Don’t smoke: Smoking damages your lungs natural defenses against respiratory infections.
  • Keep your immune system strong: Get enough sleep, exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet.
  • Prolonged exposure to the cold air: It is important to stay away from cool breezes or prolonged exposure to cold because they block the respiratory tract.


A diet for pneumonia should be low in protein and high in carbohydrates. This is because the body needs carbohydrates to produce energy and fight off the infection. A diet for pneumonia should also be high in fluids, at least 8 glasses of water daily as this will help flush out any remaining bacteria from the respiratory tract.

It should also include foods that are rich in vitamin C, and iron, which will boost your immune system and help you recover faster.

The following are a few examples of foods that can be eaten while someone has pneumonia:

Foods to be avoided

The following foods should not be consumed with pneumonia:

  • Raw eggs
  • Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, soy sauce, pickles and vinegar
  • Unpasteurized milk and cheese
  • Marinated meats, such as ham or poultry
  • Raw seafood
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol


Pneumonia is a common term used to describe a number of diseases and illnesses that cause acute respiratory distress. Its most common cause is viral infection, but bacterial pneumonia can also develop in response to viral infection or due to bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae. Pneumonia may also be caused by fungi such as Cryptococcus.

It is a very serious condition that can lead to death if left untreated. A person with pneumonia will have difficulty breathing and may cough up sputum (mucus) that looks like coffee grounds.

Pneumonia can be diagnosed with a chest x-ray and blood test. Treatment for pneumonia may include antibiotics to help kill the bacteria causing the infection and other medications to help relieve symptoms.