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Recognizing The Different Types Of Pneumonia

Updated on February 25, 2011

What Is Pneumonia, Briefly?

Pneumonia is a very common lower respiratory tract infection associated with fever, symptoms and signs of chest pain and other abnormal findings most likely seen on chest x-ray. It is not uncommon to find patients having pneumonia but having the minimal signs and symptoms of cough, fever and shortness of breath. Patients like this fall into the younger age group and unlike the elderly they tend to fight off infections much easier and more effectively

Pneumonia can be divided into 4 different types. Let’s have a look below:

Pneumonia Visually...
Pneumonia Visually...

Types Of Pneumonia

1.       Community Acquired Pneumonia

Community Acquired Pneumonia or (CAP) is one of the most common forms of pneumonia. They may be primary or secondary causes. Secondary causes are usually due to an underlying infection that predisposes an individual to acquire pneumonia easier. Patients diagnosed with community acquired pneumonia typically present from the community with the common symptoms of pneumonia mentioned earlier on. Bugs causing the infection include Streptococcus Pneumonia, Mycoplasma Pneumonia, and Staphlococcus Aureus. There are instances where you will be infected with the Legionella, Moraxella and Chlamydia species. Viral causes are usually rare and patients with viral pneumonia recover quicker than those infected with bacteria.

2.       Hospital Acquired Pneumonia

Patients who fall into this group are those who develop symptoms of pneumonia within 48 hours of hospital admission. Risk factors include patients with underlying respiratory disease, poor hospital hygience, cross infection between health practitioners and patients, and patients who require mechanically assisted ventilation. Bugs that cause this type of pneumonia include Staphylococcus Aureus and more nasty bacteria that are Gram negative, Pseudomona, Kebsiella and Staph aureus. It is also not surprising to find patients infected with the MRSA type Staph Aureus.

3.       Aspiration Pneumonia

Patients who develop aspiration pneumonia are frequently those who have stroke, epilepsy, oesophageal disease or alcohol intoxication. Conditions that affect the nerve supply of the oesphageal tract like bulbar palsies increase the risk of developing aspiration pneumonia as well. Studies have shown that Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Haemophilus influenzae, and Enterobacteriaceae are the most common organisms. Aspiration pneumonia in the hospital exposes patients to pseudomonas which frequently cause a greenish-yellow productive cough.

4.       Opportunistic Pneumonia

Patients with a weakened immune system or those who are immunocompromised have a higher chance of getting opportunistic infections such as pneumonia. It is important to note that these patients do not have the usual defense mechanisms as their healthy counterparts, hence the causes are more from fungal, protozoal and atypical bacteria. Patients who have HIV, undergoing chemotherapy, organ transplants, taking steroids and immunesuppresant medications will have a higher risk of developing opportunistic pneumonia.

5.       Viral Pnumonia

Viral causes are less common and they usually resolve quickly as mentioned. However, it is important to know that developing pneumonia is an important complication of the flu. Viruses like Influenza A, SARS, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), and Parainfluenza Virus can cause pneumonia at various age groups. Some of these viral pathogens like RSV and Parainfluenza Virus are more common in young children and the elderly.

6.       Occupational Pneumonia

Your occupation can also put you at risk of developing pneumonia. Pathogens that cause pneumonia range from Brucellosis, Coxiella to Histoplamosis. Patients who develop pneumonia of these types have a low grade fever and have symptoms not typically found in patients with the more common pneumonia like the hospital acquired and community acquired ones. 

Importance Of Recognizing The Types Of Pneumonia

By recognizing the types of pneumonia, it allows you to understand the disease better. There are many forms of treatment and most of it are specific to the type of pathogen. It is also important to seek early treatment as delayed treatment can cause cardiac complications and respiratory failure. 

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