What Causes Bacterial Pneumonia

Bacterial pneumonia is a cause of bacterial infection, which affects the lungs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in adults, pneumonia is commonly caused due to the bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). Whereas in children, Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a bacterium that leads to pneumonia.     

These bacteria enter the respiratory tract and start affecting the respiratory system. They give rise to breathing difficulties and several flu-like symptoms. The symptoms can be mild, that can be treated at home. Some people may also experience some serious symptoms, which require hospitalization and the utmost medical attention.   

How does pneumonia occur?

Pneumonia is a pulmonary infection, which can have mild to serious effects on health. It affects the respiratory system by causing damage to one or both lungs. It is an airborne infection, which happens when a person gets exposed to bacteria in the air. Some objects may also get contaminated by these bacteria and when a person touches the object, they come into contact with such infectious bacteria.  

The bacteria enter the nose and reach the throat, windpipe, and down to the lungs. Moreover, They become lodged inside the lungs, where they grow and multiply rapidly. The upper and lower airways get exposed to multitudes of these bacteria.  After sensing the presence of some foreign matter inside the body, your immune system begins its action of destroying them. The immune system causes inflammation in your lung that has caught the infection.   


The bacteria majorly affect the airways and alveolar sacs. The inflammation happening inside the lung leads to the accumulation of fluid inside the alveolar sacs, which contributes to breathing problems. Moreover, This fluid causes cough, phlegm accumulation in the air sacs, and shortness of breath.

In addition, pneumonia can be a manifestation of bacterial or viral-related common cold or flu. It can develop as a secondary infection after a cold or flu. If it is treated early, then the possibility of pneumonia will be reduced.

Types of pneumonia

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one might get exposed to such infectious bacteria in the ways that are listed below:

Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP)

People affected with this type of pneumonia get exposed to the bacteria while being in a community-type setting. It does occur in the hospital, nursing homes, clinics, or other healthcare centers.

The symptoms of CAP include fever, chills, coughing, breathing problems, phlegm or heavy sputum, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The infection limits the supply of oxygen to the body, which can lead to dangerous health complications and the person may experience severe breathing difficulties.

The people who are at high risk of developing CAP are those having chronic health conditions, like diabetes, HIV/AIDS, autoimmune disorders, and cancers, and those who have pulmonary disease, kidney disorders, chronic smokers, and heavy drinkers.   

Healthcare-associated pneumonia (HCAP)

Exposure to the healthcare setting potentiates a person’s risk of developing this type of pneumonia. The bacteria that lead to HCAP are very aggressive because they resist the antibacterial agents due to their prior exposure to healthcare settings. While being in such settings, they gain immunity to the antibacterial agents, which makes them quite dangerous. They turn into multidrug-resistant (MDR) organisms. 

A non-hospitalized person is prone to getting HCAP in hospitals, clinics, long-term healthcare facilities, dialysis centers, and nursing homes. This infection can have life-threatening consequences. Therefore, timely treatment is necessary, which will reduce the risk of health complications.   

Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP)

Moreover, This type of lung infection affects an individual who is on ventilator support. The ventilator machine provides oxygen to the patient. It requires tubes to be inserted inside the mouth or nose of the patient, which potentiates the risk of bacterial transmission from the tube to the lungs. The patient may get infected after 48 hours of intubation.

One cannot prevent the transmission of bacteria during HCAP and VAP, it is beyond your control, but you can reduce the risk of developing community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) by following some steps that are given below:

Wash your hands often

Use good quality soap or handwash and rub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Rinse it off with normal water. Always carry sanitizer with you and sanitize your hands several times a day.

Do not touch your eyes, mouth, or face

Before touching, make sure you have sanitized your hands properly. This will eliminate the risk of bacterial transmission.

Keep your surroundings clean

Make use of disinfectant cleaners to sanitize your environment. Also, clean the objects that are commonly used by everybody, they may include door handles, knobs, countertops, and things like that sort.

Maintain a safe distance from an infected person

It is necessary to keep a safe distance from a person with pneumonia, as it is a highly contagious infection, which spreads via air.

Get to know about the vaccines

Those with lung diseases, chronic health conditions, weak immune responses, and older than 65 years must get themselves vaccinated to avoid the risk of developing the infection.    

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