Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs which is caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses, which leads to inflammation in the air sacs (alveoli) where fluid or pus is accumulated making it difficult to breathe. Also Read: Pneumonia Isn't Just A Cold! Get The Facts

pneumonia types

The microbes causing pneumonia are infectious and can easily spread from person to person. Viral and bacterial pneumonia can transmit to others via the inhalation of airborne droplets when an infected person sneeze or cough. It is also transmitted via contact with the surfaces or objects contaminated with pneumonia-causing germs. Fungal pneumonia is contracted from the environment and usually doesn’t spread from person to person. Also Read: World Pneumonia Day: Prevent Pneumonia, Every Breathe Counts - Infographic

There are different types of pneumonia and doctors classify them based on where a person contracts the infection.

General Symptoms 

The symptoms of pneumonia can be mild to fatal which include:

  • Cough with phlegm
  • Fever
  • Sweating or chills
  • Breathing difficulty during normal work and at rest
  • Fatigue
  • Poor Appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Headaches

Different Types Of Pneumonia

Hospital-acquired pneumonia

A person can contract this type of pneumonia during a continuous hospital stay, it can be very severe as the bacteria causing pneumonia may be resistant to antibiotics.

Risk Factors:

    • An individual on a respiratory support machine
    • Unable to cough well and clear out the mucus or phlegm from the lungs.
    • A person on a tracheostomy tube that assist breathing.
  • A person with a compromised immune system due to an ongoing disease condition or medical treatment.

Community-Acquired Pneumonia

The causative factor behind this type may be either bacteria, viruses or fungi. It also includes aspiration pneumonia which a person can get if he breathes in food, fluid or vomit into the lungs. This generally occurs if the individual has any difficulties while swallowing and coughing and if you are unable to cough out the substance you took in, the chances of bacteria multiplying inside your lungs increase.

Bacterial Pneumonia

This type of pneumonia is the most common causative factor in the case of community-spread pneumonia. It is chiefly caused due to exposure to the bacteria-filled air droplets when someone coughs or sneezes giving the microbes an easy way to the nose or mouth cavities. People having a weakened immunity, or suffering from ailments like heart disease, asthma or emphysema are more at risk of getting Bacterial Pneumonia.

The common signs and symptoms include:

Walking Pneumonia

Also known as “atypical pneumonia”, it is a mild form of this disease. Since the signs and symptoms are negligible, people often don’t feel if they have this type of pneumonia and go with their regular activities, hence the name given as ‘walking pneumonia’. It usually feels like having a cold with general symptoms like:

  • Fever
  • Cold
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Chills

Viral Pneumonia

One of the most common forms of pneumonia, generally caused by different strains of viruses, some of which are the same as the ones causing common cold and flu. The characteristic symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Shiver
  • Stuffy nose
  • Body pain
  • General debility
  • Headache

Fungal Pneumonia

One of the least common forms of pneumonia and is generally caused by breathing in tiny fungal spores. It is more common in farmers who work around bats, birds, or rodent droppings, gardeners or landscapers who are working in the soil, or construction workers who spend a lot of time in the dust.

Risk Factors:

Fungal pneumonia usually affects a person in case of the following conditions:

  • If the person has a compromised immunity
  • Have undergone chemotherapy or organ transplant procedure
  • Suffering from HIV or autoimmune diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis

Diagnosis And Treatment

In case you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms, consult a doctor right away. The doctor usually acknowledges the patient's past medical history, a complete physical check-up followed by blood tests to confirm the particular causative factor.

Treatment options for all the types apart from pneumonia caused by viruses usually depend on taking prescribed antibiotics and pain-relieving medications to subdue the underlying symptoms.

In the case of Viral Pneumonia, providing antibiotics doesn’t provide much help in case of viral pneumonia, since they are most effective in the case of bacterial ones. The doctor usually tries to rectify or ease the underlying symptoms by providing breathing support as in the case of asthma or emphysema, prescribing anti-inflammatory medications, and asking the patient to drink enough fluids.