All About Pneumonia

Asian woman walking in snow and coughing
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What Is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection or inflammation of the lungs. It can affect just one section of your lungs (lobar pneumonia) or sections throughout both lungs (bronchopneumonia). When you have pneumonia, air sacs in your lungs fill with pus or other liquid and oxygen has trouble reaching your blood.


Year round, more common in winter months.

Who is Affected?

People of all ages. Those at highest risk include:

  • Elderly
  • Children
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • Smokers
  • People with other chronic illnesses, especially lung problems

Causes of Pneumonia

Pneumonia can be caused by a virus, bacteria, fungus, mycoplasmas or chemicals.

Often follows another illness, such as a cold or the flu.

How Pneumonia is Spread

In most cases, people get pneumonia because they had an illness such as the flu. When a person's body defenses are weakened by the flu, bacteria can invade the lungs and cause pneumonia. In some cases, bacteria can be passed from person to person causing pneumonia to be spread through the air.

There are steps you can take to protect yourself from these and other germs that cause common illnesses. Taking these every day precautions and living a healthy lifestyle will minimize your chances of getting sick.

    What to Expect

    The symptoms of pneumonia may differ depending on what is causing it, but some common symptoms may include:

    Most cases of pneumonia require prescription medications for treatment so you must see a doctor to be diagnosed with and treated for pneumonia.

    Some people need extra oxygen when they have pneumonia and some cases may require hospitalization.

    Is There a Cure for Pneumonia?

    Pneumonia is typically treated with antibiotics. Rest, proper diet and adequate fluids are also extremely important.

    Pneumonia is diagnosed by x-ray and the x-ray is usually repeated a month or two after treatment to be sure the lungs are clear.

    Some people are hospitalized with pneumonia, especially those patients at high risk. Pneumonia can be fatal. In fact, when combined with the flu, pneumonia is the 8th leading cause of death on the United States. The risk of contracting pneumonia and having serious complications can be greatly reduced by getting a flu vaccine and - for those who are at high risk - a pneumonia shot.


    "Pneumonia." American Lung Association June 2007. 01 Oct 08.

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