What is pneumonia (overview)?
Pneumonia is an infection caused by fungi, bacteria or viruses, that occurs in one or both lungs. A build-up of fluid or pus causes inflammation in the lung’s air sacs (known as alveoli) and makes it difficult for a sufferer to breathe.
An infection usually starts when you breathe germs (bacteria, fungi or virus) into your lungs. Often pneumonia is brought on after suffering a cold or flu. With an already weakened immune system such illnesses make it more difficult for your lungs to fight further infection, and thus worsen and develop pneumonia. Chronic conditions such as asthma, cancer, diabetes or heart disease can also make you more easily susceptible to developing an infection causing pneumonia.
Signs of pneumonia range from mild to life-threatening and include running a high fever, coughing and trouble breathing. In mild cases, pneumonia can generally be treated with sufficient home care, with symptoms clearing up completely within 2 to 3 weeks.
A severe infection is considered a medical emergency. Medical professionals will assess the severity of your symptoms by taking into consideration the cause of your inflammation, the type of organism which is likely to have caused the infection, your overall health and age.