Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs and surrounding airways. It can affect anyone in any age group, but the very young, very old and those with compromised immune systems are more at risk. There are many kinds of pneumonia and some are mild while others can be life-threatening.

Causes of pneumonia

Pneumonia is often caused by bacterial, viral, fungal, or other micro-organism infection but can also result from chemical injury (by gases/vapours) or aspiration. Pneumonia can be hard to spot because the symptoms are similar to a cold or the flu and can vary depending on the cause and any underlying health conditions. The most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Fever and chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Sweating
  • Phlegm/mucus production
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Chest pain – especially when breathing deeply

How physiotherapists help

Physiotherapists can help speed recovery from pneumonia by helping to improve your breathing, clearing mucous secretions and safely getting you moving again. Usually, physiotherapy treatment for pneumonia is provided to patients requiring hospitalization, but it can also be accessed through home care or a private clinic. Physiotherapy interventions for pneumonia may include:

  • Special breathing and coughing exercises to clear mucous and improve lung ventilation
  • Specialized manual chest therapies to help loosen mucus
  • General mobility/exercise programs to improve endurance
  • Use of cough assist devices to help clear mucous
  • Education for you and your family

Your physiotherapist will:

  • Assess your condition by listening to your lungs, examining your breathing and coughing and reviewing chest x-rays
  • Develop specific, individualized treatment to assist mucous secretion and breathing
  • Help you safely regain mobility and endurance
  • Provide on-going re-assessments
  • Collaborate with other health professionals like your doctor, respiratory therapist and pharmacist to optimize your therapy and recovery

Find a physiotherapist to help you recover from pneumonia. Search for "Respiratory rehabilitation" or "General practice."