Information for the public



Pneumonia is a type of chest infection. There are several different types of chest infection (including bronchitis), which can vary in severity. Pneumonia is caused by an infection of tiny air sacs in the lungs. When you have pneumonia these air sacs become inflamed (swollen) and filled with fluid. This makes it hard for your lungs to work properly.

The main symptom of pneumonia is usually a new cough along with at least 1 other symptom, such as:

  • bringing up phlegm

  • fever

  • breathlessness or difficulty breathing

  • chest discomfort or pain.

Doctors usually diagnose pneumonia by asking about your symptoms and examining your chest. If you are in hospital a chest X‑ray is usually carried out to confirm the diagnosis.

Most pneumonia develops outside hospital, in the community (sometimes described as community‑acquired pneumonia). However, sometimes people develop pneumonia while they are in hospital with another problem (called hospital‑acquired pneumonia). Most of the information here is for people who develop pneumonia outside hospital, although there is some information about treating pneumonia that starts in hospital (see pneumonia that develops in hospital).

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