In the case of pneumonia, parts of the outside of the lungs have become inflamed. Then it hurts when you breathe and you can also get breathless. The most common cause is a viral infection. Pneumonia can also be caused by, for example, bacteria or other diseases.

Symptoms of pneumonia

In the case of pneumonia, it is common for you to have any of the following symptoms:

  • It hurts your chest when you breathe, usually on one side. The pain is often sharp. Often it hurts if you breathe deeply.
  • Early in the illness, it can creak in the side as you breathe.
  • You are easily breathed.
  • You have cough without mucus, so-called dry cough.

Sitting the inflammation far down on the lungs can sometimes hurt the stomach or shoulder. 

When and where should I seek care?

If you suspect you have pneumonia, contact a health care center or on-call hospital. If closed, you can wait until the on-call reception or medical center open.

What is the cause of pneumonia inflammation?

Pneumonia can have many different causes. For example, inflammation may be due to any of the following:

  • infections of viruses, bacteria or fungi
  • blood clot in the lung
  • rheumatic diseases
  • effects of drugs
  • prolonged contact with asbestos
  • cancer
  • broken ribs.

Viruses and bacteria are common causes

Viral infections are the most common cause of people under the age of 40 getting pneumonia. Inflammation of the lungs can also be caused by bacteria.

Most often, it is pneumonia that is the cause of viruses and bacteria spreading to the lung sac and causing inflammation. The infection comes through the trachea to the lung and then out to the lung sac. Viruses and bacteria can also spread rapidly to the pulmonary sac and cause pneumonia without first creating pneumonia.

If you have pneumonia and pneumonia at the same time, you usually get more severe problems, such as high fever, more shortness of breath and maybe mucus. 

It is uncommon, but sometimes you can get a fungal infection in the lung sac. It can lead to fluid in the lungs and inflammation. Fungal infections are almost always due to the fact that you have some other illness and receive treatment that affects the body’s immune system.

A blood clot in the lung 

A blood clot in the lung can lead to pneumonia. The plug is usually formed in one leg, then loosened and passed to the lung. There, the clot gets stuck in the fine network of blood vessels in the lung, damaging parts of the lung. It can cause inflammation.

Rheumatic diseases 

Various rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and SLE, can cause inflammation and fluid formation in the lung sac. This type of pneumonia does not hurt that much, but it is more common that you get the most out of breath.


A few drugs can sometimes lead to inflammation and fluid accumulating in the lung, but this is unusual. This applies, among other things, to certain drugs used in rheumatic diseases and certain anti-cellulite drugs.


Asbestos can cause fluid in the lungs and sometimes even inflammation. But then the disease usually comes many years after you have been exposed to asbestos, up to 20 to 30 years later. Sometimes asbestos can also lead to a particular form of cancer in the lung sac .


Different types of cancer can cause inflammation and fluid in the lung sac. Lung cancer can grow from the lung to the lung sac and lead to inflammation. Other cancers can spread through the bloodstream and cause tumors in the lung sac, with inflammation and fluid formation as a result.

Broken ribs

Broken ribs can cause bleeding in the lung sac or scratch against the lung sac. It can irritate the tissue and cause inflammation.

Rare infections

There are unusual infections that can cause fluid in the lung sac and pneumonia, such as tuberculosis.


Pneumonia caused by a virus usually heals itself, but since pneumonia can be a symptom of any other disease, it is important that you be examined by a doctor.

The doctor listens to breathing and lungs

By checking how fast and deep your breathing is, your doctor can assess how difficult you are to breathe. Your doctor may also measure if you have an oxygen deficiency in your blood. It is done with a simple meter that is usually put on your finger or ear bud.

The doctor listens to your lungs as you breathe. At the beginning of pneumonia, the doctor may hear a rubbing sound.

She can also tap her fingers over her lungs. If there is a lot of fluid in a lung bag, a muted and duller tone is heard in that area.

If you are in pain when you breathe deeply, your doctor will usually feel the chest to determine if the ribs and muscles are sore. Sometimes the doctor may also squeeze the chest from the sides to see if you are sore or in pain there.

You are examined in the throat, nose and ears for signs of infection. Such signs may be swollen or tender lymph nodes on the outside of the neck and in the armpits.

Most often, few studies are needed

If the results of the body examination indicate that you have a common viral infection, a blood test may be enough to get a diagnosis. With the blood test, the doctor measures the CRP value in the blood. It is a test to measure the degree of inflammation. The CRP value is usually elevated if you have an infection caused by bacteria.

If the symptoms suggest something other than a viral infection, you will usually be given more samples. Your doctor may also need to do more examinations depending on your symptoms.

The Liquid in the lungs

In the lung sac, there is always a very small amount of fluid for the two lung sac blades to slide towards each other. In conjunction with pulmonary sac inflammation, more fluid may be formed in the pulmonary sac. If you have a lot of fluid in your lungs, it indicates some cause other than a viral infection.

To check if you have a lot of fluid in your lungs, your doctor can do an X-ray. It is also done to see if you have a more serious illness, such as pneumonia. If your doctor is unsure or suspects a serious illness, you are always examined by x-ray.

An ECG examination is sometimes done on people older than about 50 to rule out heart disease.

Sometimes liquid can be drained

If the X-ray shows that you have a lot of fluid in your lungs, your doctor may sometimes drop out of the fluid. It is called pleural tapping and is uncommon in viral infections. The drained fluid can be examined so that the doctor will know more about the cause of the inflammation.

The tapping is done in hospitals by inserting a special needle into the lung sac. Usually, the tapping is done from the back or side. You get local anesthesia before. You usually have to stay in the hospital for a day or so after bottling. 

Other investigations

You may also be able to do other forms of x-ray examinations if you have a lot of fluid in your lungs or have a lot of pain. You can, for example, be examined with computed tomography.

The doctor can do a so-called thoracoscopy if it is difficult to find a cause of the trouble. Then peephole technology is used to examine and sample from the inside of the chest.

Treatment of pneumonia

The most common is that pneumonia inflammation is caused by a viral infection. Then it heals by itself within one to two weeks.

If pneumonia has been caused by another disease, the basic disease itself needs to be treated. How long it takes to recover from pneumonia depends on how well you can treat the disease that caused it.

You usually get painkillers and maybe even anti-inflammatory drugs, regardless of the cause of the inflammation.

The doctor may lose fluid

Your doctor may drain the fluid if you have a lot of fluid in your lungs. The tapping is done in the same way as when the doctor drops fluid for examination.

It is usually easier to breathe when the fluid disappears, as a lot of fluid in the lung sac can make you breathless.

Sometimes other drugs are needed

You will be given antibiotics if the pneumonia is caused by bacteria, for example in connection with pneumonia.

If the inflammation of the lungs is due to a blood clot, you are treated with blood thinners, among other things.

You may need to contact the healthcare provider again

It is important that you do not feel worse during the healing period. If you have not recovered within a couple of weeks, contact a health care provider again.

Does Pneumonia Infect?

The viruses or bacteria that have caused the inflammation can spread and infect others. But most often, the person who gets infected only gets common cold symptoms, without any inflammation of the lung sac.

What can I do for myself?

You can try non-prescription painkillers with the active substance paracetamol or ibuprofen if you have been examined by a doctor and have no major problems. It can be, for example, Alvedon or Ipren.

It is good to drink a lot if you have a cough, it usually relieves. It also usually helps to sleep with your upper body higher, if you cough when you are going to sleep. Bed with extra pillows under the mattress.

You can also try non-prescription cough suppressants if you have a cough. They are available for purchase at pharmacies. There are also medicines that a doctor can prescribe that you can try. 

Rest well when you feel ill and help your body heal. 

What happens in the body?

The lung sacs surround the lungs of the chest and consist of two layers. One layer is on the lungs, while the other is on the inside of the chest. The two layers are separated by a very thin layer of liquid, just so much that both surfaces of the lung sac are kept moist and slide easily against each other.

An inflammation is formed

In the case of pulmonary inflammation, the thin membranes around the lung, the pulmonary sacs, have become irritated by, for example, an infection. Then inflammation is formed in the area, the pulmonary sac leaves become tighter and fluid is formed between the membranes. The amount of fluid formed depends, among other things, on the cause of the inflammation.

When the two lung sac blades become rigid, they slide more slowly towards each other. Then you can hear a rubbing sound as you breathe. The sound usually disappears when the fluid has formed in the lung sac since the two leaves are then separated again.

When fluid is formed in the lung sac, the lung can be compressed and you become breathless.  

The most common is that you get pneumonia on one side, but sometimes both pneumonia can be inflamed.

Pneumonia is called pleurisy in Latin.

Why does it hurt?

The part of the lung sac that sits against the inside of the chest is very sensitive to pain. If the inflammation reaches it hurts when you breathe.

Feeling breathless maybe because it hurts when you breathe in. Then the breath automatically becomes a little more superficial and you avoid the effort. It may also be because fluid has formed in the lung sac that compresses the lung. Then coughing is a common symptom.

Complications and sequelae

Often, a lung sack inflammation heals without leaving any problems afterward.

You can get small scars in the lung sac

Sometimes small scars form in the lung sac. It is harmless but does not allow the lung to move as freely as before the disease. The lung is stuck in an area and it can cause trouble. As a rule, you feel it as a little pain or a stab in the chest.

You can get a thickening in the lung sac

If you have had a lot of fluid in the lung sac that has not been drained, you can get a thickening in the lung sac that compresses the lung a little. It is also harmless but can be seen on x-ray examinations of the lung going forward.

Warheads are flushed clean

It is uncommon, but sometimes after a pneumonia inflammation, you can get a warthog in pneumonia. Then bacteria have emerged from the trachea and the bladder and then grown to form a collection of each. A warthog is usually flushed clean with saline.

Influence and participate in your care

You can seek care at any healthcare center you want throughout the country.

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. For example, you should get information about treatment options and how long you may have to wait for care and treatment.

Children should also be involved in their care. The older the child, the more important it is.

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.

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