Dr. Faozat Aragbaye
Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. The air sacs may fill up with fluid or pus, causing symptoms such as cough, fever, chills and difficulty in breathing.


Pneumonia can be caused by bacterial infections, fungi or viral infections; less frequently by other causes. The most common bacterial type that causes pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumonia.

Risk factors

There are number of factors that increase the risk of developing pneumonia. These include:

  • a weakened immune system, either due             to disease such as HIV/AIDS, or cancer,                 or to medication that suppress immune function;
  • infants and children 2years of age or younger;
  • age 65 and older
  • having a chronic disease such as pulmonary disease, sickle cell anaemia, asthma, heart disease, or diabetes;
  • swallowing or coughing problems, due to stroke or other brain injury
  • malnutrition
  • cigarette smoking; and
  • patient in an intensive care unit.


Pneumonia symptoms can vary from mild to severe and also depend on the causative organisms, age and overall health.

The signs and symptoms may include:

  • Cough, which may produce greenish, yellow or even bloody mucus
  • Fever, sweating, chills and rigour
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sharp or stabbing pain that gets worse with deep breath
  • Loss of appetite, weakness and fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting, especially in small children.
  • Confusion, especially in older people


Diagnosis of pneumonia includes:

  • Medical history
  • Physical examination
  • Chest x-ray
  • Blood tests
  • Pulse oximetry- to measure oxygen level in the blood.
  • Sputum test
  • CT scan
  • Pleural fluid culture
  • Bronchoscopy


Treatment depends on the type and severity of the pneumonia:

  • Bacterial types of pneumonia are treated with antibiotics
  • Viral types of pneumonia are usually treated with rest and plenty of fluids.
  • Fungal types of pneumonia are usually treated with antifungal medications.
  • OTC (over- the- medications are commonly prescribed to help manage the symptoms of pneumonia. These include treatments for reducing fever, aches, pains and suppressing coughs.
  • Rest and drinking plenty of fluids.

Hospitalization for pneumonia may be required for a severe case, weakened immune system or other serious illnesses. Hospitalized patients are generally treated with intravenous antibiotics and fluids.

Complications of pneumonia

  • Sepsis
  • Pleural effusion
  • Abscess


It is not possible to prevent all types of pneumonia but steps can be taken to reduce contacting it by :

  • practicing good hand washing
  • avoiding contact with people who have colds, the flu, or other infections
  • a vaccine is available against most common bacterial cause of pneumonia- Pneumovax ( PPSV23) vaccine against 23 types of bacteria, and Prevnar 13 ( PCV 13) vaccine against 13 types of bacteria. These vaccines may not prevent pneumococcal pneumonia, but they may prevent serious complications of pneumonia if it does occur.

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