Pneumonia Symptoms & Causes

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What are the different types of pneumonia?

There are three main types of pneumonia—bacterial pneumonia, viral pneumonia and mycoplasma pneumonia.

Bacterial pneumonia

Bacterial pneumonia is caused by various bacteria, most often the bacteria called streptococcus pneumoniae. Other bacteria that may cause bacterial pneumonia are:

  • group B streptococcus (most common in newborns)
  • staphylococcus aureus
  • group A streptococcus (most common in children over age 5)

Bacterial pneumonia may have a quick onset and you may notice the following symptoms in your child:

  • productive cough (your child coughs up mucus)
  • pain in the chest
  • vomiting or diarrhea
  • decrease in appetite
  • fatigue

Viral pneumonia

Viral pneumonia is caused by viruses, including:

Early symptoms of viral pneumonia are the same as those of bacterial pneumonia. However, with viral pneumonia, the respiratory involvement happens slowly. You may notice your child wheezing, and his cough may worsen.

Viral pneumonias may make your child susceptible to bacterial pneumonia.

Mycoplasma pneumonia

Mycoplasma pneumonia is caused by mycoplasmas, the smallest free-living agents of human disease. These organisms have the characteristics of both bacteria and viruses, but are not classified as either. They generally cause a mild, widespread pneumonia that affects all age groups.

Symptoms of this kind of pneumonia are different from the other types. The symptoms usually do not begin with a cold, and may include:

  • fever and cough are the first to develop
  • persistent cough that may last three to four weeks
  • severe cough that may produce some mucus

Other less common pneumonias may be caused by the inhaling of food, liquid, gases or dust, or by fungi.

What are the other symptoms of pneumonia?

In addition to the symptoms listed above, all pneumonias share the following symptoms (though keep in mind that each child may experience them differently):

  • fever
  • chest or stomach pain
  • decrease in appetite
  • chills
  • breathing fast or hard
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • not feeling well
  • fussiness
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