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Symptoms of a Lung Infection

Specialist Hospital

Specialist Hospital

  Kalyan nagar, Bengaluru     Jan 22, 2018

   5 min     



A lung infection usually occurs by a virus, bacteria, and rarely even by a fungus.

One of the most common types of lung infection is called pneumonia. Contagious bacteria or even a virus most commonly causes pneumonia which affects the smaller air sacs of the lungs. A person becomes infected after breathing the bacteria or virus after the nearby infected person sneezes. 

How Lung Infection Occurs?

When the large bronchial tube that carries air to and from your lungs becomes infected, it's known as bronchitis. A virus generally causes bronchitis than by bacteria. 

The virus can also infect the lungs or the air passage that lead to the lungs. This is known as bronchiolitis; viral bronchiolitis is most common in infants. 

Lung infections such as pneumonia are usually mild, but they can be severe, especially for immunocompromised people or people with chronic conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Not everyone who has the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has an active lung infection. But, people with COPD are predisposed to lung infections. And having a lung infection when you are diagnosed with COPD can be quite serious.

Symptoms of Lung Infection

Mentioned below are the most common symptoms of lung infection-

Fever - A Sign of Lung Infection

Normal body temperature varies from person to person, but in general, it is 98.6 degrees. Having a fever - meaning a temperature higher than this - is one sign that you may have a lung infection.

If the temperature of the body in lung infection usually rises to 105 °F

a higher fever above 102°F is often accompanied by many other symptoms such as:

  • Chills 

  • Sweating

  • Muscle aches

  • Dehydration

  • weakness 

  • Headache 

You should see a doctor if your fever rises above 102°F (38.9°C) or if it lasts more than three day

Increased Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath, or dyspnea, is one of the hallmark symptoms of COPD. However, if it begins to worsen, this could be a sign that you are developing a lung infection and need to contact your doctor. 

Productive Cough

While a chronic cough is a common symptom of COPD, a cough that gets worse and becomes more productive may be a sign that a lung infection is brewing and medical attention is needed. A productive cough is one that brings up mucus, also known as sputum or phlegm.

Changes in Mucus

Many patients complain about having an increased amount of mucus when they have COPD. When a lung infection is present, however, mucus production not only increases in amount but it also generally gets thicker and stickier and changes in colour. It can also have a foul odour to it.

With bronchitis or pneumonia as lung infection one may have a cough that produces thick mucus with a distinct colour, say:

  • Clear

  • White

  • Green

  • Yellowish-grey

A cough can stay for several weeks even after other symptoms have improved. 

Pleuritic Chest Pain

Pleuritic chest pain is not cardiac in nature, meaning it is not a result of a heart condition. Chest pain associated with infection of the lungs is sometimes described as a sharp, aching pain that gets worse when breathing deeply or coughing. It may feel like pressure, or tightness, inside the chest wall. However, any type of chest pain is abnormal and needs to be addressed immediately with a health care professional.

Body Aches

During lung infection, one may experience severe muscle and backache this is termed as myalgia.  Sometimes one can develop inflammation in the muscle which can also further lead to body aches.  

Runny Nose

A runny nose and other flu-like symptoms are often accompanied by a lung infection such as bronchitis. 


A person suffering from lung infection usually feels sluggish and tired all the time as the body tries to fight off the infection.


One might experience high-pitched whistling sound known as wheezing. This is the result of narrowed airways or inflammation. 

Bluish appearance of the skin or lips

One's lips or nails may start to appear slightly blue in colour due to lack of oxygen in the body.

Crackling or rattling sounds in the lungs

One of the symptoms observed by a few in lung infection is a cracking sound in the base of the lungs, known as bibasilar crackles. These sounds are pretty evident when heard using a tool called a stethoscope. 

Causes of Lung Infection

The three different types of lung infection include bronchitis, bronchiolitis, and pneumonia. A virus or bacteria generally causes them. 

The most common microorganisms responsible for bronchitis include:

  • viruses that contribute to lung infection are the influenza virus or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

  • bacteria responsible for lung infection are Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydia pneumoniae, and Bordetella pertussis

The most common microorganisms accountable for pneumonia include:

  • bacterias like  Streptococcus pneumonia (most common), Haemophilus influenzae, and Mycoplasma pneumoniae

  • viruses such as the influenza virus or RSV

  • seldom, lung infections can be caused by fungi such as Pneumocystis jirovecii, Aspergillus, or Histoplasma capsulatum.

Fungal lung infection is widely present in people who are immunocompromised, either from certain types of cancer or HIV or from taking immunosuppressive medications.

Treatment of Lung Infection

A bacterial infection is usually cleared up using antibiotics, whereas a fungal infection requires treatment with antifungal medications such as ketoconazole or voriconazole.

Antibiotics don't work on viral infections. Mainly one has to wait until the body fights off the disease by its own. 

While the body does its work, one can help the body fight off infection by following home care remedies, a few of them are listed below:

  • Take antipyretic over the counter medication to reduce high fever.

  • Drink tons of water

  • Occasionally gargle with salt and water

  • give your body enough time to recover by resting

  • Drink hot tea with honey

  • Take properly prescribed medications without missing any dose. 

For sever lung infection, one is asked to stay at the hospital until the infection is cleared and adequately recovered. 

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Tags:  Lung infection,symptoms of lung infection,Treatment of lung infection

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