In the case of pneumonia, parts of the lungs have become inflamed. The cause is usually bacteria and then you are treated with antibiotics. Most people with pneumonia become completely healthy within a month, but for older people who are already sick, the disease can be serious.

Symptoms of Pneumonia

Pneumonia can cause various symptoms. It is common for you to have any of the following symptoms:

  • You get a cold with cough, fever and sore throat that does not get better, but gets worse after four to five days.
  • It hurts when you breathe deeply. 
  • You cough up mucus that is colored. The mucus can be white, yellow, green, brown or blood mixed.
  • You are out of breath.

Prolonged cough along with fatigue, headache, and usual fever can sometimes also be signs of pneumonia.  

You may also have more noticeable symptoms:

  • The fever can cause chills or shake.
  • You may find it difficult to breathe.
  • You can get dumbfounded and confused.

Children may have other symptoms

Children with pneumonia may also have other symptoms. Above all, it applies to children up to seven years of age.  

The child may have any of the following symptoms:

  • Breathing is wheezing or wheezing.
  • Breathing is fast, often in combination with a mildly offensive cough.
  • The child is pale, indifferent and unable to play even short moments.
  • The child vomits.
  • The child has a stomach ache.

When should I seek care?

Contact a  health care center or an on-call clinic if you or your child have pneumonia. If closed, you can wait until the on-call reception or medical center open.

If it’s in a hurry

Immediately contact a health care center or an on-call clinic if one or more of the following complaints are true:

  • You or your child quickly get worse and the fever rises. This applies even if you or the child have ongoing treatment for pneumonia.
  • You or your child will have a fever with severe chills and shakes.
  • Your child will not be able to play, watch television even for short moments or be interested in something.

If it is closed at the health center or on-call reception, seek care at an emergency room.

  • You or your child get very difficult to breathe.
  • You or your child will get pale pale face color or blue lips.


There are several ways to diagnose pneumonia. Often, a combination of different examinations is needed to exclude other diagnoses.

The same examinations are done on children as adults.

Listens to the lungs and breathing

The doctor listens to your lungs as you breathe. Sometimes the doctor knocks his finger over the lungs and listens to the sound. They can also count your breath for one minute. The number of breaths often increases if the lungs are infected.

Blood tests can provide answers 

You are often given a blood test called CRP if your doctor suspects you have pneumonia. It is a test to measure the degree of inflammation. The CRP value is usually elevated if you have a more severe infection.

Sometimes your blood oxygen level is measured with an apparatus on your finger. There it appears if your lungs have difficulty oxygenating your blood, which may mean that you have pneumonia.

Some of these tests, along with a body examination and what you tell, are usually enough to make the diagnosis.

More investigations

Sampling can be supplemented with an examination of the white blood cells of the blood if something seems unclear. The white blood cells usually increase in number if you have pneumonia.

You can also be examined with a chest x-ray. In the radiographs, the doctor can see if there are changes in the lung that are indicative of pneumonia.

Often you do not have to leave any sample showing which bacteria have caused pneumonia. However, if you have a more severe infection, your healthcare professional may take samples from your nose, throat or blood to send for analysis.

Lung X-ray can be done afterwards 

You may need to be examined for a pulmonary x-ray a month after you got pneumonia if your doctor is unsure why you got the disease. The radiographs show if the inflammation has healed.

The doctor may also want to confirm that there is no tumor in the lung that has contributed to pneumonia, especially if you smoke and are in your 40s or older.

X-rays are also performed if the symptoms do not pass, if there is a tuberculosis infection in the area or if you have a recurrence.

If pneumonia does not pass

A new medical examination is needed if pneumonia does not heal even though you have been treated. The doctor then tries to find out which infectious agent has caused pneumonia, and investigates if there are other causes in the lungs or in the rest of the body that hinder the healing.  

Treatment of Pneumonia

Pneumonia should be treated by a doctor Children and adults receive the same kind of treatment.

Treatment with drugs

You usually get antibiotics. The most common bacteria in pneumonia are usually sensitive to common penicillin, which is then the first alternative.

If the doctor suspects that it is, for example, the bacterium mycoplasma that has caused pneumonia, you will receive other antibiotics, since ordinary penicillin has no effect on mycoplasma.

Antibiotic treatment usually lasts for seven days.

Inflammation usually heals itself if it is a virus that has caused pneumonia. The exception is if pneumonia has been caused by the influenza virus or if you have a reduced immune system. Then you may need drugs that are effective against viral infections.

When it’s serious

You often need hospital care if you have severe symptoms. This applies, for example, if you have a high fever and are difficult to breathe. Then you often get antibiotics directly into your bloodstream.

If you have difficulty breathing, you may also need oxygen, and if breathing is very impaired, you are treated in a respirator. You may also need to get fluid and nutrition directly into your bloodstream through the drip.

You usually get better after a few days of hospital treatment.  

Most will be well within a month

How quickly pneumonia goes, depends, among other things, on the health and fitness you had before you became ill. The most common is that pneumonia treated with antibiotics heals completely in a month. If you work, the sick leave period is usually two weeks.

You can be tired and sometimes even cough after pneumonia has healed. Fatigue and cough gradually disappear within a month.

Sometimes it takes longer

The healing usually takes longer if the infection becomes so severe that you need to be nursed in the hospital. This is because the body’s defense has been more affected. But even then, the problems usually end up completely, unless there are other diseases that have contributed to the inflammation.

Pneumonia usually heals without lasting damage. 

The risk of you getting new pneumonia increases if there are contributing causes such as other illnesses, old age or smoking. 

What can I do for myself?

There are several things you can do yourself to alleviate your hassles.  

Drink a lot

It is good to drink a lot if you have a cough or a fever. This makes the mucus easier to cough up. You also lose a lot of fluid when you have a fever. Children who have a fever and cough can sometimes get ice cream as an alternative to drinking.

Raise the head end of the bed

It can help raise the head end of the bed if you cough a lot at night. The easiest way is to bed with extra pillows. Put the pillows under the mattress and they won’t slip away.

Medicines can relieve

You usually feel better if you take antidepressants when you have a high fever. This also applies to children with fever, but consult a doctor before giving children under six months a fever-reducing drug.

Respiratory widening drugs can sometimes facilitate breathing in children and adults. 


Avoid physical exertion and rest properly when you have a fever and feel unwell. When you feel better, short walks are good for healing.

This is how pneumonia infects

The bacteria and viruses that can cause pneumonia spread easily.

Pneumococcal bacterium is the most common cause of pneumonia. It is not very contagious. The viruses that can cause pneumonia are much more contagious. This also applies to the bacterium mycoplasma.

Viruses are often spread through coughs and sneezes

Mycoplasma and most viruses spread through the air when the sick person chokes, sneezes or exhales. Coughing and sneezing provide a shower of drops containing the virus. You can get infected if you get the drops in you. The drops can also fall on things and are then passed on by taking in what the drops have ended up with.

Mycoplasma sometimes causes major outbreaks of pneumonia. The same applies to pneumonia caused by viruses, especially among children. But everyone who gets infected does not get pneumonia. Instead, many people get a mild cold or no symptoms at all. 

So you can reduce the risk of pneumonia

A life with plenty of exercises, good eating habits and good sleep habits improves the body’s defense against infections in general. Smoking damages the lungs and increases the risk of getting infections. There is help to get if you want to quit smoking.

Greater risk for certain groups

Since influenza can develop into pneumonia, it is good to vaccinate you against influenza if you belong to a group that may have difficulty coping with pneumonia.

This is especially true if any of the following is true of you:

  • You are older than 65 years.
  • You have heart disease or lung disease.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You have an impaired immune system for another reason.

You should also vaccinate against pneumococci if you belong to one of these groups. You should also do this if you have had your spleen removed, because when the immune system is worse. 

Causes of pneumonia

Pneumonia is usually caused by bacteria or viruses. There are several additional factors that can help you get pneumonia.

Bacteria and viruses

The pneumococcal bacterium is behind more than half of all pneumonia. In adolescents and young adults, other infectious agents may be more common, such as mycoplasma.

In adults and the elderly with chronic lung disease, such as COPD, the Haemophilus bacterium appears to cause pneumonia.

Legionella is a more unusual bacterium that can be spread, for example, by air conditioning or showers. It can cause pneumonia. It is more common to be infected by the bacterium abroad than in some parts of Europe.

Various viruses can also cause pneumonia Some viruses that often cause pneumonia in adults are, for example, influenza virus and RS virus. Every year, the RS virus causes epidemics among younger children.

Diseases can impair the immune system 

In addition to bacteria or viruses, there are often additional causes that can help you get pneumonia. One reason could be that the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract has been damaged by a common viral infection in the past and is unable to fight bacteria.

Other causes may be that the body’s defenses are weakened by other diseases, for example in the heart and lungs. The immune system is also weakened if you get cytostatic drugs against cancer, have any rheumatic disease, certain bowel diseases or if you have AIDS. Although smoking impairs the immune system.

The oldest and youngest get pneumonia more often 

Age plays a big role in who gets pneumonia. Usually, children under two years of age and people over the age of 65 get pneumonia.

Children’s immune systems are not fully developed

Children may have recurring pneumonia without any other disease. This is because the immune system of young children is not fully developed. At the age of four, children’s immune systems tend to have matured and the inconvenience of repeated pneumonia ceases.

Pneumonia can be serious for older people

Pulmonary inflammation is a common sequela in the elderly or sick people who are very still. Lying down greatly reduces the ability of the lungs to work. It can also make it difficult for the disease to heal.

Diseases and aging often weaken the immune system of the elderly. In older people who are already sick, pneumonia is a common cause of death. This is because the body is so weakened that it cannot cope with the extra stress that pneumonia causes.

Foreign objects may be the cause 

Small children can accidentally inhale small parts of toys or food. These little things then stay somewhere in the lungs and almost always cause an infection.

You can also get pneumonia if you vomit and get the vomiting down in your lungs. This happens especially if you are less awake than usual, for example after an operation or when you have been drinking a lot of alcohol. This is one of the reasons why people who drink a lot of alcohol or use drugs are at greater risk of getting pneumonia. If you want to change your alcohol habits, there is help to get.

Small children who accidentally swallow solvent can get the solvent into their lungs if they vomit. The child can then get severe pneumonia. It is called chemical pneumonia. 

Consequential diseases and complications

A pneumonia can lead to pleurisy. Then bacteria or viruses have spread to the lung sac surrounding the lungs.

The infection can also spread to the blood and from there to the body, but it is unusual.

What happens in the body?

As you breathe, the air comes down to your lungs. Small particles with viruses or bacteria can also accompany the inhalation air. 

The task of the lungs is to carry oxygen from the air you breathe into the blood. The lungs also allow you to exhale the carbon dioxide that is formed in the body. To make this possible, the lungs are made up of a tissue made up of millions of small elastic lungs, alveoli.

The lung blisters become inflamed

In the case of pneumonia, the lungs have become inflamed. The reason is that bacteria or viruses have entered the body and been able to multiply in the airways. The infection has then spread into the body through the finer trachea and into the lung tissue.

When the pulmonary vesicles are inflamed, the body becomes more difficult to absorb oxygen. Then it can be more difficult to breathe. Failure to treat the infection can cause severe oxygen deficiency in the body.

The infection also causes the mucous membrane of the airways to swell. This is especially true for children under six to seven years because they have narrow respiratory tract. When it gets narrower in the trachea, sick children can get hissing and wheezing.

Pneumonia in whole or in part of the lung

You can get pneumonia in one lung or in both lungs. Pneumonia in both lungs is called bilateral pneumonia. Double-sided pneumonia need not indicate a more serious infection.

You can also get pneumonia in only part of a lung. Then it is called lobar pneumonia. Then the cause is usually a bacterium.

Influence and participate in your care

You can seek care at any medical center or open specialist clinic you want throughout the country. Sometimes a referral to the open specialist care is required.

You should understand the information

In order for you to be involved in your care and treatment, it is important that you understand the information you receive  from the healthcare personnel. Ask questions if you don’t understand. 

You have the opportunity to get help from an interpreter. You also have the opportunity to get help from an interpreter if you have a hearing loss. 

Children should be able to participate 

There is no age limit for when a child can have an influence over their care. The child’s ability to participate in related to the child’s maturity.

The older the child, the more important it is for them to be involved in their care. In order to be active in the care and to make decisions, it is important that you as an adult and the child understand the information you receive from the care staff

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