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What is Chlamydia Pneumonia?

By H. Colledge
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Chlamydia pneumonia is an infectious lung disease caused by any of the Chlamydia group of bacteria. There are three different types of Chlamydia bacteria: C pneumoniae, C psittaci and C trachomatis. While C trachomatis is a common cause of sexually transmitted disease, babies can catch the infection from their mothers and this sometimes develops into pneumonia. C psittaci causes an infection in birds which may be passed on to humans, leading to a Chlamydia pneumonia which can range from symptomless to severe. Chlamydial pneumonia caused by C pneumoniae tends to be milder in younger adults, but may occasionally be more serious in elderly people.

There are many different types of pneumonia and it can be caused by viruses, parasites and fungi as well as by bacteria like Chlamydia. Of the three types of Chlamydia, C pneumoniae is the one most commonly found to cause infections. As well as causing Chlamydia pneumonia, it can cause milder diseases such as bronchitis or inflammation of the airways.

The symptoms of Chlamydia pneumonia can differ depending on which one of the Chlamydia bacteria is causing the infection. In the case of C pneumoniae there may be no symptoms in mild cases, or the disease may at first appear similar to the common cold, with a runny nose, sore throat and hoarse voice. Pneumonia symptoms of cough, weakness and chest pain may follow, sometimes accompanied by headaches.

C psittaci pneumonia symptoms may develop up to two weeks after contact with infected birds. There is often a cough, without any phlegm, together with pain in the chest. In more severe cases, the person may have a high fever, and the infection may go on to affect the brain and the rest of the body, sometimes causing seizures.

At first, a stuffy or runny nose, breathlessness and a cough may be seen in babies infected with C trachomatis. Chlamydia pneumonia may develop later, and around half of babies will have associated eye or ear infections. In most cases the illness is only mild but, if it is left untreated, there is a small risk of complications resulting in serious breathing difficulties.

Treating Chlamydia pneumonia generally involves giving antibiotics, with different drugs used for each strain of Chlamydia bacteria. Depending on the severity of the pneumonia, it may be necessary for the person to be admitted to the hospital, and pain relief, fluids and oxygen may be required. For older, more frail people and those with other medical conditions, hospital treatment is more likely.

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Discussion Comments
By donasmrs — On May 23, 2013

Can chlamydia pneumoniae infections cause MS or other neurological conditions?

By discographer — On May 22, 2013

@MikeMason-- Chlamydia pneumonia is not very common, most pneumonia cases (around 90% if I remember correctly) are caused by a different type of bacteria or virus. It's usually not the first thing that comes to a doctor's mind when he sees a pneumonia case.

In X-rays though, chlamydia pneumonia looks a bit different than other types of pneumonia. And not every antibiotic is effective for this type of pneumonia and doctors will then suspect chlamydia bacteria.

This is why everyone who is sexually active should get a routine STD test. You don't want to wait until an infection has developed complications because it's more risky and harder to treat then.

By stoneMason — On May 22, 2013

I was shocked when I was diagnosed with chlamydia pneumonia. I didn't have any signs of chlamydia before I developed a lung infection. I didn't even know that a sexually transmitted bacteria can result in these kinds of complications.

Anyway, I took a lot of antibiotics and I'm better now.

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