Once someone is diagnosed with pneumonia, treatment will depend upon its causes and symptoms. To better understand how pneumonia is addressed, it’s important to discuss its various causes and types as well as how these types of pneumonia differ from one another.
Differentiating the Types of Pneumonia
There are several types of pneumonia, each with different causes and different methods of treatment. Here’s what you need to know about each:
This type of pneumonia is caused by bacteria. Many different kinds of bacteria can cause pneumonia. The most common is Streptococcus pneumoniae. Bacterial pneumonia can happen to anyone, but those at most risk include those with:
- weakened immune systems, or those who suffer from poor nutrition.
- Advanced age is also a factor. Even external factors come into play; those with dangerous habits such as smoking and alcohol abuse are also at risk.
- More groups at risk include those who have recently had surgery and people who suffer from heart disease or respiratory illnesses such as tuberculosis, or asthma.
The symptoms of bacterial pneumonia include:
- a cough with mucus
- rapid and fast breathing
- shortness of breath
- fatigue and tiredness
- a fever that shoots up to more than 38 degrees Celsius
If you have bacterial pneumonia, the treatment usually involves antibiotics. Your doctor might do a couple of tests on you to see which antibiotic suits you better.
Perhaps the most common among the different types of pneumonia, viral pneumonia is caused by many different viruses, including the flu (influenza). If you have viral pneumonia, it is possible to develop bacterial pneumonia too.
Symptoms of viral pneumonia, which range from mild to severe, are the same as that of the flu:
- muscle pain
- stuffy nose
- Non-productive cough (cough with no phlegm/sputum)
Unlike bacterial pneumonia, antibiotics don’t work on viral pneumonia. The chosen treatment depends on the kind of symptoms that you have.
For example, if you have a high fever, medications revolve around normalizing or lowering your temperature, or your doctor might recommend medicines such as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If you have trouble breathing, your doctor can also prescribe you some other antiviral drugs.
To provide some relief, you can also try drinking plenty of fluids, and getting enough rest.
Mycoplasma pneumonia is caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae. It generally causes a mild form of pneumonia that affects all age groups. This type of pneumonia is contagious and can easily spread among groups of people, for example, in nursing homes or schools.
Mycoplasma pneumonia may also be a cause of atypical or walking pneumonia but they are not synonymous. Mycoplasma is just one of many etiologic agents that may cause atypical or walking pneumonia. This is stated in another article I have reviewed.
“Walking pneumonia” is named such because the patient’s symptoms are so mild that they are still “walking”.
The symptoms of mycoplasma pneumonia include:
- cough, which can last 3 to 5 days
- fatigue and tiredness
- shortness of breath
Aside from these symptoms, those who have this kind of pneumonia can also have ear infections, sore throat, and a dry cough.
Just as its name suggests, hospital-acquired pneumonia can be acquired during your stay in the hospital. It can be a mild form of pneumonia, but the infection can also be serious if the bacteria that cause it is resistant to antibiotics.
Those who are most vulnerable to hospital-acquired pneumonia are those who can’t cough enough to clear their lungs, those on a breathing machine, or those who have weakened immune systems.
Community-Acquired pneumonia: Bacterial or Viral?
Community-acquired pneumonia is more common than hospital-acquired pneumonia and bacterial or viral pneumoniae can be considered a kind of community-acquired pneumonia.
Pneumonia can be classified in two ways: either by what causes pneumonia (viral, bacterial, fungal, aspiration) or the environment in which you acquire it (community or hospital-acquired).
To prevent getting community-acquired pneumonia, you can get vaccinated for pneumonia. It’s important to note that community-acquired pneumonia is infectious, while aspiration pneumonia is not a result of coming into contact with someone.
Hospitals or long-term care facilities aren’t the only risks for pneumonia. You can also get pneumonia from the community – from bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites that can get into your lungs. Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) can be mild, severe, or can even lead to death.
The symptoms of CAP include coughing which produces yellowish or greenish sputum, sharp and stabbing chest pains, rapid breathing, and sharp pains in the chest. Among its less common symptoms include coughing up blood, excessive fatigue, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and a rapid heartbeat.
Treatment of CAP involves a certain kind of antibiotic that kills infecting microorganisms in the lungs. Some patients get treated through oral medications while some need to get hospitalized. The doctor’s decision will depend on the severity of the infection.
A less common form of pneumonia, fungal pneumonia is caused by fungi. Those infected with this type of pneumonia have compromised immune systems. These include people who:
- Have undergone an organ transplant
- Are going through chemotherapy
- Have HIV
- Have been exposed to fungi such as those who work with bats and rodents, gardeners, or construction workers
Symptoms may include fever and cough, similar to other types of pneumonia.
Other Types of Pneumonia
There are, of course, other types of pneumonia; however, these are less common. Some of these types of pneumonia may require bed rest or medications, while some may require you to go to the hospital for treatment.
Like other forms of chronic diseases, pneumonia is not easy to diagnose or treat.
It entails check-ups and tests to diagnose and involves various medications to treat the viruses, bacteria, or fungi in your lungs.
So the next time you experience any of the pneumonia symptoms listed above, consult your doctor immediately.
Learn more about pneumonia, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.