Pneumonia: Everything You Need To Know

Pneumonia is a lung infection, which demands immediate attention and medical intervention. Recognising the symptoms and early diagnosis can prevent complications and aid in swift recovery.

By URLife Team
24 Nov 2023

Pneumonia is a respiratory infection, which leads to inflammation in the air sacs of one or both lungs. The air sacs may fill with pus (purulent material) or fluid, causing symptoms such as cough with phlegm, chills, difficulty breathing and fever. Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Bacterial and viral pneumonia strains are contagious, spreading from person to person, while fungal pneumonia is typically contracted from the environment and does not spread from person to person.

According to a 2023 report, by Springer Nature India records the highest rate of pneumonia-related deaths among children under the age of 5, highlighting the urgent need for spreading awareness and offering proper medical interventions to address this concerning issue.

Dr. Battu Chaithanya, Consultant Transplant & Interventional Pulmonologist at Apollo Hospital, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, highlights specific groups more susceptible to pneumonia in her informative YouTube video. These include children under the age of 5, adults over 65 and individuals aged 6 to 64 with underlying health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular issues, kidney problems or structural lung diseases.  Fungal pneumonia usually occurs in immunocompromised individuals.  Additionally, infants with low birth weight or genetic abnormalities become more prone to contracting pneumonia as they are immunocompromised.


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Individuals who engage in alcohol consumption, tobacco consumption, or are exposed to lung irritants, and are living in a crowded environment are at higher risk of contracting pneumonia.


Walking Pneumonia

Walking pneumonia is medically termed atypical pneumonia or mycoplasma pneumonia and it is a milder form of pneumonia. Unlike typical pneumonia which often requires complete bed rest and hospitalisation and oxygen support, walking pneumonia is less severe and usually doesn’t necessitate bed rest or hospitalisation.

This type of pneumonia is caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae and is characterised by pneumonia symptoms that are less severe than those of typical pneumonia. People with walking pneumonia can often continue their daily activities, hence it is termed as "walking" pneumonia. The symptoms are also mild and can be managed with antibiotics along with nutritious diet support and plenty of fluids.


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Symptoms of Pneumonia

The symptoms of pneumonia may vary from mild to severe depending on the individual's age, health condition and specific cause of pneumonia (bacterial, viral or fungal pneumonia). Here are a few common symptoms of pneumonia

  • Yellowish, greenish or blood cough
  • Cough with phlegm (mucus)
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • Confusion


Diagnosis of Pneumonia

Based on your medical history, doctors will ask when symptoms first manifested and health in general, post which doctors will check you physically with a stethoscope for any abnormal sounds like crackling or rumbling. Depending on your symptoms and clinical conditions, doctors may prescribe tests including:

  • Chest x-ray
  • Pulse oximetry
  • Blood count to identify bacteria or virus
  • Sputum test
  • Sputum culture test
  • Multiplex PCR test
  • Throat swab
  • CT scan or MRI

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Treatment for Pneumonia

Treatment for pneumonia depends on the specific cause, the severity of the symptoms, and the person’s overall health. Bacterial pneumonia is usually treated with antibiotics, which target the specific bacteria causing the infection. The dose of antibiotics can vary depending on factors such as age, health status, and the likelihood of antibiotic resistance. It is important to complete all prescribed courses of antibiotics to successfully clear the infection and prevent the recurrence of the infection or antibiotics.

Viral pneumonia, on the other hand, generally requires antiviral pneumonia medications. But in some cases, supportive care such as rest, plenty of fluids, and medical treatment to reduce fever, cough and other symptoms can be the primary approach, as most viral infections do not respond to antibiotics. For those with compromised immune systems hospitalisation might be necessary to provide oxygen support, intravenous fluids, and offer respiratory support, if required. Additionally, fungal pneumonia may require antifungal medications tailored to the specific type of fungus causing the infection. 


Preventive Measures

Pneumonia can be prevented with the help of vaccinations, good hygiene practices, and lifestyle choices. Vaccinations play an important role in preventing certain types of pneumonia, notably the pneumococcal and influenza vaccines. These vaccinations are recommended for infants, older adults, and individuals with underlying health conditions.

Practising good hygiene, such as frequent handwashing with soap and water, covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, wearing a mask and avoiding close contact with sick individuals, helps limit the spread of respiratory infections that can lead to pneumonia. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and managing chronic conditions, boosts the immune system and reduces the risk of developing pneumonia and helps in quicker recovery if infected.


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Pneumonia can affect anyone but poses the highest risk to infants, the elderly, individuals with compromised immune systems or individuals with comorbidities. With early diagnosis, appropriate treatment and preventive action, the impact of pneumonia can be reduced. If you experience persistent cough, difficulty breathing, or chest pain, it is important to seek medical attention for timely diagnosis and treatment.


Regular health checks are essential for everyone, but they are particularly important for individuals who are at risk of or already have pneumonia. Taking regular health checks can help detect pneumonia at an early stage when it is easier to manage and treat. With the UR.Life HRA, we help you to invest in your well-being through seamless interventions and targeted medical treatments. Our holistic wellness approach caters to all aspects of your well-being. We ensure that you can bring your whole self to work.
With our medical professionals by your side, routine health check-ups will never be an issue. Advanced laboratory technologies back UR.Life’s Occupational Health Centers (OHC), and with highly qualified experts/technicians, we’re committed to delivering trusted and quality recommendations, modifications and advice to you.


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