By: Jaden Christenbury


Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus, causing cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing. A variety of organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi, can cause pneumonia.


A pneumonia diagnosis usually begins with a physical exam and a discussion about your symptoms and medical history. A doctor may suspect pneumonia if they hear coarse breathing, wheezing, crackling sounds, or rumblings when listening to the chest through a stethoscope.

Chest x-rays and blood tests may be ordered to confirm a pneumonia diagnosis. A chest x-ray can confirm pneumonia and determine its location and extent in the lungs. Blood tests measure white blood cell count to determine the severity of pneumonia and can be used to determine whether the infection is bacterial, viral, fungal, etc. An analysis of sputum also can be used to determine the organism that is causing the pneumonia.

A more invasive diagnostic tool is the bronchoscopy - a procedure whereby the patient is under anesthesia and a thin, flexible, and lighted tube is inserted into the nose or mouth to directly examine the infected parts of the lung.

Target Audience

Some people are more likely than others to develop pneumonia. Individuals at a higher risk include those who:

  • Smoke
  • Abuse alcohol
  • Have other medical conditions, such as COPD, emphysema, asthma, or HIV/AIDS
  • Are younger than 1 or older than 65
  • Have a weakened immune system
  • Have recently recovered from a cold or influenza infection
  • Are malnourished
  • Have been recently hospitalized in an intensive care unit
  • Have been exposed to certain chemicals or pollutants
  • Are Native Alaskan or certain Native American ethnicity