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Eosinophilic Pneumonia

Last updated Sept. 8, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Eosinophilic Pneumonia occurs when there are abnormal amounts of a type of white blood cells, called eosinophils (that fights allergic reactions caused by pathogens) in the lungs, causing swelling of the lungs, which then progresses to pneumonia.

What are the other Names for this Condition? (Also known as/Symptoms)

  • Loeffler Syndrome
  • Pulmonary Eosinophilia
  • Pulmonary Infiltrates with Eosinophilia

What is Eosinophilic Pneumonia? (Condition/Background Information)

  • Eosinophilic Pneumonia occurs when there are abnormal amounts of a type of white blood cells, called eosinophils (that fights allergic reactions caused by pathogens) in the lungs, causing swelling of the lungs, which then progresses to pneumonia
  • This condition is more common in men than women. Also, certain drugs and medications, as well as some infections (fungal, parasitic, and bacterial), can predispose an individual to Eosinophilic Pneumonia
  • An allergic reaction to any agent, whether a drug, pathogen, or parasite, is the leading cause of Eosinophilic Pneumonia. Individuals with the condition could show symptoms of breathing difficulties, fever, cough, etc.
  • Treatment options depend on severity of the condition. While some cases may not need any treatment, others might need antibiotic, antiparasitic, or steroidal treatment. Discontinuing certain medications that cause allergic reactions could also help prevent Eosinophilic Pneumonia, as can reducing smoking, which tends to affect the lungs
  • Prompt treatment of the condition usually leads to a complete recovery, although Eosinophilic Pneumonia is a condition that can recur

Who gets Eosinophilic Pneumonia? (Age and Sex Distribution)

  • Eosinophilic Pneumonia can affect any individual of any age
  • Although both genders are affected, men are 4 times more likely to be affected with the condition than women
  • All races and ethnic groups are equally susceptible to it; Eosinophilic Pneumonia is observed worldwide

What are the Risk Factors for Eosinophilic Pneumonia? (Predisposing Factors)

The following are certain risk factors that could predispose an individual to Eosinophilic Pneumonia:

  • Certain medications, such as amiodarone
  • Drug use (heroin)
  • Infections caused by bacteria, fungus, or parasites

It is important to note that having a risk factor does not mean that one will get the condition. A risk factor increases ones chances of getting a condition compared to an individual without the risk factors. Some risk factors are more important than others.

Also, not having a risk factor does not mean that an individual will not get the condition. It is always important to discuss the effect of risk factors with your healthcare provider.

What are the Causes of Eosinophilic Pneumonia? (Etiology)

The causes of Eosinophilic Pneumonia may include:

  • An allergic reaction, which may develop from the use of medications, such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Bacterial or fungal infections
  • Parasites (such as worms): These small organisms enter the body and begin to feed and grow, affecting various organs. Eventually, when the lungs are targeted, a cascade of adverse reactions begin, damaging the lungs

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Eosinophilic Pneumonia?

Individuals with Eosinophilic Pneumonia may be present with:

  • Fever
  • Complaints of chest tightness
  • Difficulties with breathing; gasping for air and wheezing
  • Increase in the respiratory rate
  • Cough, which may have mucus that is stained with or without blood

How is Eosinophilic Pneumonia Diagnosed?

A physician usually has several tools at his disposal to diagnose Eosinophilic Pneumonia, and these may include:

  • Checking for the presence of any abnormal noise within the chest region using a stethoscope
  • Blood tests to get a complete blood count (CBC) to assess the levels of eosinophils
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Chest X-rays to detect the presence of shadowing, which could indicate infiltration that may have occurred due to an infection

Many clinical conditions may have similar signs and symptoms. Your healthcare provider may perform additional tests to rule out other clinical conditions to arrive at a definitive diagnosis.

What are the possible Complications of Eosinophilic Pneumonia?

There are no known complications of Eosinophilic Pneumonia other than developing a more severe form of the condition.

How is Eosinophilic Pneumonia Treated?

The treatment for Eosinophilic Pneumonia is based on the severity of the condition.

  • In some individuals with the condition, it may disappear on its own and may not require any medication
  • If the condition resulted from an infection, such as due to a bacteria, parasite, or fungus, a physician could prescribe antibiotics or anti-parasitic medications, as suitable
  • If the condition presents as a chronic form, then steroids may be given in order to reduce swelling
  • If certain drugs are the reason for the condition, then the individuals may be asked to discontinue these medications

How can Eosinophilic Pneumonia be Prevented?

The following are some preventive measures to avoid Eosinophilic Pneumonia:

  • Decreasing exposure to risk factors that increase the chances of getting the diseases (Example: the use of certain medications)
  • Smoking cessation
  • There is also a pneumococcal vaccine that is recommended for adults, especially those over the age of 65 years

What is the Prognosis of Eosinophilic Pneumonia? (Outcome/Resolutions)

  • Mild Eosinophilic Pneumonia usually disappears on its own and may not require the use of any medication
  • Those who require medications are advised to complete the full course, for a better outcome
  • In some individuals, Eosinophilic Pneumonia can recur

Additional and Relevant Useful Information of Eosinophilic Pneumonia:

The following DoveMed website link is a useful resource for additional information:


What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Oct. 24, 2015
Last updated: Sept. 8, 2018