Last revised by Andrew Murphy on 30 Mar 2024

The term pneumonia is most commonly used to mean acute infection of the lung parenchyma. Sometimes chronic infections are included.

  • the term consolidation is often erroneously misinterpreted as a synonym for pneumonia

  • recently, some interstitial lung diseases have been classified as interstitial pneumonias

    • some would argue that it would be less confusing to use the term pneumonitis for these inflammatory/fibrotic diseases

  • the word ‘pneumonia’ is derived from the Greek pneumon and literally means lung disease

    • although pneumonia has been recognized for millennia, the cause was a mystery until the 1880s when Streptococcus pneumoniae was first identified

  • 60% of community acquired pneumonia is diagnosed clinically without identification of a causative organism or imaging studies

Pneumonia ranks 8th as a cause of death in the USA and is the most deadly of the infectious diseases. Poverty, age and access to vaccination and antibiotics are the main causes of global variation. In 2019, 2.5 million people died of ‘clinical’ pneumonia and pneumonia was the leading cause of death for children under 5.

The COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for over 3 millions deaths up to the end of 2023.

Pneumonias can be classified by:

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