Chronic Pneumonia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Chronic pneumonia is a condition where there is inflammation of the lungs over a prolonged period of time, caused due to certain microorganisms. Read on for its causes, symptoms and treatment in this HealthHearty article.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Jan 27, 2018
Pneumonia, an infection wherein there is inflammation of the lungs, is caused due to bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This illness is called chronic pneumonia when it extends for a long time. Although it does not occur as quickly as acute pneumonia, the damage it does to the lungs can prove to be very harmful, and if not dealt in time, may even prove to be fatal.
  • Nocardia
  • Actinomyces israelii
  • Blastomyces dermatitidis
  • Certain kinds of granulomatous pneumonia can occur due to mycobacteria like Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Fungi like Coccidioides immitis
More often than not, these microorganisms are endemic in most places in the world. However, it is generally the people with a compromised immune system who suffer from chronic pneumonia, as the disease tends to surface when another illness has weakened the person's immune system.
  • Fever, which may be accompanied by chills.
  • Chest pain, experienced especially while breathing.
  • Due to the pain experienced in the chest while breathing in, the person may even take shallow, rapid breaths.
  • Cough, which may be dry or wet. However, more than often, it is cough with phlegm.
  • Feeling of heaviness and congestion in the chest.
  • Profuse sweating and clammy skin.
  • Drowsiness, confusion, shortness of breath, increased respiratory rate, fatigue and tiredness, rhinitis, aching muscles and body pain, headache, etc.

Before going on to the methods of treatment, it is important to diagnose the exact cause, as the treatment will vary in accordance with the causative agent. However, antibiotics form the first line of defense in chronic cases.
These antibiotics are given either orally or intravenously, depending on the severity of the disease and the stage it is in. Antibiotics help in most cases of pneumonia that are caused due to bacteria. However, if the person is suffering from the viral or fungal types of pneumonia, chances are that he or she is extremely immunocompromised. In such cases, there is need for very aggressive treatment, with the help of intravenous administration of antibiotics.
Supportive treatment measures include maintaining hydration, preventing any further infections, etc. However, the prognosis for patients suffering from the nosocomial (hospital-acquired) kind of this illness is relatively poor, as this type normally affects immunocompromised people. Furthermore, the strains of bacteria that cause nosocomial infections are normally antibiotic-resistant, which further makes treating such cases a difficult task.
Often, patients tend to ignore the symptoms initially, as their onset is not very sudden, thereby writing them off as common cold or flu. However, this is a serious condition that can cause irreparable lung damage and lead to further complications. If you identify these symptoms, it is best to consult a doctor and get your condition diagnosed and treated at the earliest.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.