Pneumonia Risk Factors and Causes: A Comprehensive Guide

Woman suffering from Pneumonia

Our existence is a complex structure of multiple systems working together to give mankind its supreme purpose. However, for every system working, some conditions restrict it and cause problems. We live and breathe under the influence of this ecosystem comprising several factors that contribute to our well-being, but some also create difficulties.

Pneumonia is a severe condition that causes respiratory problems resulting in fever and other distress. This type of infectious disease can be proven to be fatal if left untreated. Understanding how to determine if you or anyone around you has pneumonia is vital. Lets explore the essential checkpoints to understand the risk factors of Pneumonia.

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection that occurs in the respiratory system of our body. Some bacteria, fungi, or viruses usually cause this infection. The disorder attacks the air sacs inside the lungs, causing fluids to fill up in them and causing inflammation. To prevent fatal damage to the body, it is essential to understand and manage pneumonia.

Walking pneumonia, a non-medical expression, describes mild pneumonia with cold-like signs. Avoiding the risk factors of pneumonia generally does not necessitate bed rest, allowing individuals to continue their daily activities. Resting also helps decrease the chance of transmitting pneumonia-causing pathogens to others. Most individuals with walking pneumonia typically feel better within 3-5 days.

Risk Factors of Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a condition commonly found either in young kids or in the elderly citizen. The most significant risk factor for pneumonia is the habit of smoking. If you voluntarily follow this habit or even passively inhale smoke, you might become a victim of Pneumonia when you have a weakened immune system.

People with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, are more likely to get pneumonia. People with weakened immune systems, such as HIV or AIDS, are more susceptible to pneumonia. Pollutants like smoke and chemical fumes can increase your risk of pneumonia.

Causes of Pneumonia

Various types of viruses and bacteria become the cause of pneumonia. Influenza is one of the commonly occurring pneumonia types. Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae are bacterias that categorize the cause of pneumonia. Histoplasma capsulatum and Aspergillus fumigatus are the fungi that make up the third cause of pneumonia. Mycoplasma pneumonia is caused by a type of bacteria called Mycoplasma pneumoniae.

Commonly, individuals acquire pneumonia-causing pathogens through inhalation into their lung's tiny air sacs, known as alveoli. The immune system reacts by deploying white blood cells to combat the infection, inducing inflammation of the alveoli. This inflammation leads to the accumulation of fluid and pus in the alveoli, resulting in pneumonia.

Symptoms of Pneumonia

When understanding the risk factors of pneumonia, you must know the symptoms of this disorder. The most visible and quickly found symptom of pneumonia is coughing. You can determine the chances of pneumonia if the cough produces mucus. Followed by high fever, which is another symptom of pneumonia. The fatigue in the body due to a weak immune system also causes shortness of breath.

The shortness of breath can also accompany chest pain, a common pneumonia symptom. It may be worse when you cough or take deep breaths. People with pneumonia often feel exhausted and weak. Loss of appetite is a common symptom of pneumonia. Some might also experience nausea and lightheadedness as well.

Complications of Pneumonia

Pneumonia, when it progresses, causes fluid building up in the lungs and chest wall, resulting in difficulty breathing and chest pains. In this condition, it becomes difficult for the lungs to get enough oxygen to the body. This eventually leads to extreme fatigue, high fever and can be proven fatal. If the infection spreads further or there is no immediate treatment, there could be organ failure or even death. There are also chances that the lungs get filled with pus, which causes all the symptoms of pneumonia.

Empyema is an infection that develops in the space between the membranes encompassing the lungs and the chest cavity. On the other hand, pericarditis involves the sac's inflammation, known as the pericardium, surrounding the heart. Endobronchial obstruction occurs when there is a blockage in the airway, hindering the normal airflow into the lungs. Atelectasis is when an entire lung or a specific area within the lung experiences partial or complete collapse. Lastly, a lung abscess denotes the presence of pus within the lungs, an infrequent complication usually observed in individuals with severe underlying medical conditions or a history of alcohol misuse.

Diagnosis of Pneumonia


doctor examining a patient's x-ray


Diagnosis is the most crucial step to beat pneumonia before it does any severe damage to the body. Medical experts usually begin the process by taking blood samples to confirm any infections and see the cause of pneumonia. There could also be sputum tests that study the cultures and point out which bacteria or virus has caused it. Lastly, X-rays and CT scans could be done to get visual confirmation of pneumonia.

Bronchoscopy is a medical procedure that involves inserting a bronchoscope, a thin and flexible tube equipped with a light and camera, into the lungs while the patient is under anesthesia. This enables the doctor to directly examine and visualize infected or affected areas of the airways and lungs. The procedure is recommended when additional investigation is needed to diagnose or evaluate certain lung conditions, infections, or abnormalities.

Treatment of Pneumonia

The treatment approaches for different types of pneumonia vary based on the underlying cause. Bacterial pneumonia is commonly treated with antibiotics to combat the bacterial infection. Treatment for viral pneumonia is generally unnecessary, but in cases where influenza is the cause, a doctor may prescribe antiviral medications to manage the viral infection. 

The treatment requires accurate test results and diagnosis to determine the type and cause of pneumonia. This ensures that medical professionals develop the routine of therapy and medications that would be the perfect solution. They also can ensure you have the measures to keep the pneumonia risk factors at bay. Alongside the medical treatment, it is also essential to have a healthy, nutritious diet to boost your healing.

Prevention of Pneumonia

Vaccines can help protect against certain types of pneumonia. Smoking increases your risk of pneumonia. Wash your hands often and avoid close contact with people who are sick. Eating a balanced diet can help strengthen your immune system and reduce your risk of pneumonia. Regular exercise can help boost your immune system and reduce your risk of pneumonia. Sleeping well and resting your body enough contributes to faster healing.

Though they may not provide complete immunity to pneumonia in older adults, they significantly decrease the risk of pneumonia and other diseases caused by S. pneumonia, such as blood and brain infections. While the medications do their work, it is essential to maintain the balance of routine by avoiding the risk factors of pneumonia to be safeguarded all the time.


Pneumonia is a severe condition that can cause respiratory problems, fever, and other symptoms. Knowing the risk factors and causes of pneumonia can help you take the necessary steps to prevent it. Vaccines, good hygiene, a healthy diet, and regular exercise can help reduce your risk of getting pneumonia. If you think you may have pneumonia, it's important to see your doctor right away.

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