Types of Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a serious illness and is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States. It is a common complication of viral illnesses such as the flu but can have a variety of causes. Learn more about some of the most common causes and types of pneumonia.

Bacterial Pneumonia

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Bacterial pneumonia is caused by bacteria instead of a virus, fungi or some other type of germ or foreign substance. It can be caused by a wide range of bacteria and is typically treated with antibiotics.

This is a common type of pneumonia that can be very serious, leading to hospitalization or death. A large number of people that are hospitalized with pneumonia have bacterial pneumonia. It commonly occurs when a person has another type of illness such as the flu. The immune system is weakened due to the first illness and bacteria causes a secondary infection.

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Viral Pneumonia

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Viral pneumonia by definition is caused by a virus. It is usually not as serious for most people as bacterial pneumonia and cannot be treated with antibiotics since they only kill bacteria.

Most people with viral pneumonia recover within 1 to 3 weeks. However, some cases are very serious and rapidly causing death within just a few days - this has been seen during a number of flu pandemics over the past century.

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Mycoplasma Pneumonia

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Could you have mycoplasma pneumonia?. BSIP/UIG/Getty Images

This type of pneumonia is caused by a germ known as a bacterium - which is smaller than a bacteria. Mycoplasma pneumonia is often the cause of "walking pneumonia" and gets that name because the symptoms are usually mild. A person with this type of pneumonia is able to function and "walk around" unlike with more serious types of pneumonia where you could end up being in bed or at least at home for quite a while. 

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Aspiration Pneumonia

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Aspiration pneumonia. Paul Bradbury/OJO Images/Getty Images

Aspiration pneumonia can occur when someone aspirates a foreign liquid into the lungs. It is rare in healthy children and adults but is a serious concern for people in certain high risk groups.

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What Is Fungal Pneumonia?

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Fungal pneumonia is caused when spores enter the lungs and multiply. It is rare and more commonly occurs in people with compromised immune systems.

However, it can occur in otherwise healthy adults. One cause of fungal pneumonia in adults is Valley Fever - which occurs in certain parts of the Southwestern United States.

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Community Acquired Pneumonia

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The term community acquired pneumonia is used to describe an infection that did not occur in someone who was recently hospitalized or living in a nursing care or long term care facility.

Walking Pneumonia

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As we covered above (Mycoplasma pneumonia), walking pneumonia is less severe than many other types of pneumonia. The most common cause is Mycoplasma pneumonia, but any mild form of pneumonia that doesn't require significant treatment or cause serious symptoms may be termed walking pneumonia.

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