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Frequently Asked Questions About Pneumonia

Frequently Asked Questions About Pneumonia

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  • Chemical pneumonia is an uncommon type of lung irritation that happens when the lungs are inflamed after inhaling substances like liquids, gases or small particles like dust or fumes
  • Physicians begin a pneumonia diagnosis by inquiring about the patient’s medical history, followed by a physical exam, which involves listening to the lungs with a stethoscope to check for abnormal bubbling or crackling sounds

Q: What is chemical pneumonia?

A: An uncommon type of lung irritation, chemical pneumonia happens when the lungs show signs of inflammation due to inhalation of substances like liquids, gases and small particles like dust or fumes. Symptoms of this pneumonia can differ among patients, and severity is often determined by these factors:1

Type and strength of chemical

Environment of chemical exposure (indoor or outdoor, or heat or cold)

Length of exposure (seconds, minutes or hours)

Form of chemical (gas, vapor, particulate or liquid)

Defensive measures utilized to avoid chemical exposure

Prior medical condition/s

Patient's age

Q: What causes pneumocystis pneumonia?

A: Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) is a type of fungal pneumonia triggered by the fungus Pneumocystis jirovecii. PCP is common among individuals who are immunocompromised because of HIV/AIDS, are undergoing cancer treatments, who need or have undergone organ transplants, or are currently taking medicines that compromise immune system function.2

Q: What is nosocomial pneumonia?

A: Nosocomial pneumonia is another name for hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP), wherein a patient who has been admitted to a hospital becomes infected with pneumonia.3

HAP is more risky compared to community-acquired pneumonia because the patient may already be sick when the infection occurs. Even worse, hospitals that are supposed to be safe can raise a person's risk for this condition, especially when an unclean ventilator is used4 or if surroundings are swarming with antibiotic-resistant germs.5,6

Q: Is there a link between influenza and pneumonia?

A: There is a connection between these two diseases, as the influenza or flu virus can cause viral pneumonia7 that could be severe or fatal.8 Apart from this, some viral pneumonia symptoms also mimic typical hallmarks of influenza, although pneumonia lasts longer compared to influenza.9,10

Q: Can chlamydia pneumoniae bacteria cause pneumonia?

A: Yes. The chlamydia pneumoniae bacteria can trigger pneumonia. However, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates, pneumonia does not develop in every person exposed to this bacteria strain.11

Q: What tests are used for diagnosing pneumonia?

A: If you or someone you know is showing symptoms of pneumonia, a doctor may check for the disease first by inquiring about the patient's medical history. This is then followed by a physical exam, wherein a stethoscope is used to listen to the lungs and check for abnormal bubbling or crackling sounds.

The Mayo Clinic notes that other tests that may be suggested to fully confirm a pneumonia diagnosis may include:12

  • Blood tests — A blood test can confirm the presence of an infection and the agent responsible for it. Keep in mind that blood tests sometimes can produce inaccurate results.
  • Chest X-ray — This may be helpful to identify the disease responsible for your symptoms, and to discover where and how severe the infection is. However, remember that an X-ray won't tell you what caused your illness.
  • Pulse oximetry — A side effect of pneumonia is it inhibits your lungs from moving adequate oxygen into the bloodstream. This test checks your blood's oxygen level.
  • Sputum test — If you experience constant coughing, a sample of fluid from the lungs called sputum is taken, usually after a deep cough. A sputum test aims to show the origin of the infection.

People who are aged 65 and above, are confined in the hospital, or who manifest serious symptoms or health conditions may be recommended to get the following additional tests:13

  • CT scan — A CT scan produces a more detailed image of the lungs and is typically recommended for older patients whose conditions aren't healing as expected.
  • Pleural fluid culture — This involves using a needle to take a fluid sample from the lining between your lungs and chest wall, which is the pleural area. Your physician will insert a needle between your ribs to aspirate the culture. Afterward, the fluid sample is analyzed to determine what the infection is.

Q: What complications could arise if pneumonia is left untreated?

A: If left untreated, pneumonia can lead to complications such as breathing difficulties, bacteremia (infection that spreads to the bloodstream) and low blood pressure levels, especially among elderly patients.14 Other risky complications of pneumonia include:15

  • Pleural effusion or fluid buildup around the lungs — This complication often manifests in the pleura, or the thin space between the layers of tissue lining the chest cavity. If a fluid, especially an infected substance, has been detected, it must be drained via a chest tube or surgically.
  • Lung abscess — If pus appears within a cavity inside the lung, a surgical procedure must be done, or a long needle or tube must be inserted into the abscess to remove it completely.


Pneumonia: Introduction

What Is Pneumonia?

Is Pneumonia Contagious

Pneumonia Duration

Pneumonia Types

Pneumonia Causes

Pneumonia Symptoms

Pneumonia Treatment

Pneumonia In Children

Pneumonia In Elderly

Bronchitis vs Pneumonia

Pneumonia FAQ

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