Five Facts You Should Know About Pneumonia

Pneumonia is more common than you think. It causes more than a million hospitalizations and more than 50,000 deaths each year. Pneumonia is an infection in one or both of your lungs, causing inflammation and fluid build-up. It may cause problems with oxygen exchange. Here's what you should know about this serious illness.

  1. The chances of getting pneumonia can be substantially reduced.
    Get a flu shot every year to help prevent seasonal influenza. The flu is a common cause of pneumonia, so preventing the flu is a good way to reduce your risk of pneumonia. In addition, those at risk can get vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia.
  2. Anyone can get pneumonia.
    While some people are at higher risk than others, anyone can get pneumonia. Symptoms of pneumonia include fever, wheezing, cough, chills, rapid breathing, chest pains, loss of appetite and malaise, or a general feeling of weakness or ill health.
  3. Pneumonia can have more than 30 different causes.
    Many germs, such as bacteria, viruses and fungi can cause pneumonia. Understanding the cause of pneumonia is important because pneumonia treatment depends on its cause.
  4. It can be deadly.
    Pneumonia can be very serious and can cause death. Complications from pneumonia include respiratory failure, sepsis and lung abscess and are more likely to affect older adults, young children, those with a weakened immune system and people with other medical problems.
  5. Good health habits can fight pneumonia.
    Washing your hands, following a healthy diet, getting adequate rest, regularly exercising and not smoking are all habits that can help you from getting sick from bacteria, viruses and other causes of respiratory illnesses. Good health habits also promote fast recovery when you do get sick.

Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel.

Page last updated: June 7, 2024

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