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Pneumonia is a term which describes inflammation of the lung parenchyma characterised by exudation and consolidation into the alveoli.

There are various ways of categorising the pneumonias:

  • by who gets them and when
  • by the causative organism
  • by the geography of acquisition

Overall (in the UK), Streptococcus pneumoniae is by far the most common agent.

Every year between 0.5% and 1% of adults in the UK will have community-acquired pneumonia

  • diagnosed in 5-12% of adults who present to GPs with symptoms of lower respiratory tract infection, and 22-42% of these are admitted to hospital, where the mortality rate is between 5% and 14%
  • between 1.2% and 10% of adults admitted to hospital with community-acquired pneumonia are managed in an intensive care unit, and for these patients the risk of dying is more than 30%
  • more than half of pneumonia-related deaths occur in people older than 84 years


Last reviewed 02/2020