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Pneumonia

Also called: Bronchopneumonia

Summary

Pneumonia is an infection in one or both of the lungs. Many germs, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi, can cause pneumonia. You can also get pneumonia by inhaling a liquid or chemical. People most at risk are older than 65 or younger than 2 years of age, or already have health problems.

Symptoms of pneumonia vary from mild to severe. See your doctor promptly if you

  • Have a high fever
  • Have shaking chills
  • Have a cough with phlegm that doesn't improve or gets worse
  • Develop shortness of breath with normal daily activities
  • Have chest pain when you breathe or cough
  • Feel suddenly worse after a cold or the flu

Your doctor will use your medical history, a physical exam, and lab tests to diagnose pneumonia. Treatment depends on what kind you have. If bacteria are the cause, antibiotics should help. If you have viral pneumonia, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medicine to treat it.

Preventing pneumonia is always better than treating it. Vaccines are available to prevent pneumococcal pneumonia and the flu. Other preventive measures include washing your hands frequently and not smoking.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Start Here

  • (American Academy of Family Physicians)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • (American Lung Association)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Symptoms

  • (American Lung Association)

Prevention and Risk Factors

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology)

Related Issues

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health) Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in

Specifics

Statistics and Research

  • (National Center for Health Statistics)

Striking laughter

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Reference Desk

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Find an Expert

  • From the National Institutes of Health
  • From the National Institutes of Health

Children

  • (American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • (American Academy of Pediatrics) Also in
  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in
  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in

Teenagers

  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in

Patient Handouts