Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. According to the American Lung Association, it causes around 50,000 deaths every year. In 2018, the mortality rate of pneumonia in the US was 14.7%. Please keep reading to learn more about this common yet potentially severe lung infection and how to treat it.

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection that causes inflammation inside one or both of your lungs. Your lungs contain tiny air sacs called alveoli. These air sacs are responsible for the exchange of gases in your blood, and provide oxygen to your body. Pneumonia causes the build-up of fluid and pus inside these alveoli which causes difficulty in breathing.

Is pneumonia bacterial or viral?

It can be both. Other than bacteria and viruses, fungi can also cause pneumonia. However, the most common form of pneumonia among adults is bacterial pneumonia.    The symptoms and severity of pneumonia are based on the germ that causes it. For instance, bacterial pneumonia can get more severe and require more hospitalization than viral or fungal pneumonia. However, viral cases of pneumonia can too get complicated if a bacterial infection accompanies it. 

Is pneumonia contagious?

Yes, because the germs that cause pneumonia can spread from one person to the other. When an infected person sneezes or coughs, the bacteria and viruses found in their droplets can infect others around them. Apart from transmission through airborne droplets, the pneumonia-causing germs can also spread through surfaces and objects. The third and less common type of pneumonia is fungal. Unlike bacterial and viral pneumonia, fungal pneumonia does not spread from person to person.

How do you get pneumonia?

There are several ways by which you can get pneumonia. The most common causes of pneumonia are:
  • Breathing pneumonia-causing germs directly into your lungs
  • Touching objects contaminated with pneumonia germs
  • Accidental breathing of food, liquid, or vomit from your mouth into your lungs. This is known as aspiration pneumonia.
As well, any condition that lowers your immunity may also increase the risk of having pneumonia. Following are the risk factors that may increase your chances of having pneumonia:
  • Long-standing lung infection, such as COPD
  • Excessive cigarette smoking
  • Brain injuries and disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Liver failure
  • Diabetes
  • Surgeries

Bacterial pneumonia symptoms

The most common bacteria that causes pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae or pneumococcus. According to the American Lung Association, Strep pneumoniae infects about 9 million Americans every year. Pneumonia caused by other bacteria is known as atypical pneumonia or walking pneumonia. Common bacterial pneumonia symptoms:
  • High-grade fever that may reach up to 105 degrees F
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Increased pulse rate
  • Bluish lips and nailbeds due to low oxygen in the blood
  • Confused mental state
The symptoms and presentation of bacterial pneumonia are quite different from those of viral. Almost all symptoms of bacterial pneumonia appear suddenly. However, in some cases, they may develop gradually as well.  

Viral pneumonia symptoms

While bacterial pneumonia symptoms are usually abrupt, viral pneumonia symptoms might not show up until several days after exposure. The most common cause of viral pneumonia is the influenza virus. This is why viral pneumonia symptoms are very similar to those of influenza. They include:
  • Moderate or high fever
  • Dry cough (without any mucus)
  • Headache and body ache
  • Weakness
  • Bluish lips
Other symptoms that are common in all types of pneumonia:
  • Productive cough that contains green, yellow, or bloody mucus
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slowed breathing
  • Sharp chest pain every time you breathe deeply or cough
  • Loss of appetite, leading to lowered energy
  • Nausea and vomiting
These symptoms may be more severe in older adults or people with other serious diseases.

Pneumonia treatment

Your health care provider will consider several factors before devising a treatment plan for you. If you are looking for online consultation, our doctors will be pleased to assess your health condition. They will suggest a treatment based on how sick you feel, your age, and, if present, any underlying health issues. 

Bacterial Pneumonia Treatment:

Bacterial pneumonia treatment is based on antibiotic therapy. Your doctor will also suggest medicines for pain and fever. Whatever treatment your health care provider recommends, also ensure to keep yourself hydrated. Drink plenty of liquids to help loosen up fluid built up in your lungs. Other remedies that can help include a warm bath and the use of a humidifier. 

Viral Pneumonia Treatment:

Most cases of viral pneumonia resolve on their own. Your doctor might recommend certain anti-viral drugs if the influenza virus causes your viral pneumonia. If your viral pneumonia doesn’t go away, it might lead to secondary bacterial infection and require antibiotic treatment. 

Online Consultation for Pneumonia

If you suspect that you have pneumonia or have symptoms similar to those of pneumonia, consult and seek help from our online doctors right away. At Home Urgent Care provides telemedicine services so you can safely and confidently keep your health in check with our primary and urgent care services. Our online consultation services are provided by board certified doctors that can evaluate your symptoms and order the appropriate prescription at your preferred pharmacy. Feel free to book an appointment today with our health experts available at your convenience 365 days a year and get your prescription/medication available online.

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Step 1

Call or Book your online Doctor Visit

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Step 2

Talk to a doctor over the Phone/ Tablet

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Step 3

If needed pick up your medication at the pharmacy


  1. American Lung Association. “Five Facts You Should Know About Pneumonia.” October 23, 2020. January 14, 2021.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Pneumonia.” October 30, 2020. January 14, 2021.
  3. American Lung Association. “Learn About Pneumonia.” October 23, 2020. January 14, 2021.
  4. American Lung Association. “What Causes Pneumonia?” October 23, 2020. January 14, 2021.
  5. Morris, Denise. Cleary, David. Clarke, Stuart. “Secondary Bacterial Infections Associated with Influenza Pandemics.” The National Institutes of Health, June 23, 2017. January 14, 2021.
  6. Health line. “Everything You Need To Know About Pneumonia.” August 20, 2019. January 14, 2021.
  7. Health line. “Aspiration Pneumonia: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment.” September 16, 2018. January 14, 2021.
  8. The US National Library of Medicine. “Community-acquired pneumonia in adults.” January 14, 2021.
  9. American Lung Association. “Pneumonia Symptoms and Diagnosis” October 23, 2020. January 14, 2021.