Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages. Depending on the cause, it can often be treated with medicine or prevented with vaccines. However, it is still the leading cause of death in children younger than 5 years old worldwide. Common signs of pneumonia include cough, fever, and difficulty breathing. You can help prevent pneumonia and other respiratory infections by following good hygiene practices, such as washing your hands regularly and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, taking good care of your medical problems, and quitting smoking.
Common Causes of Pneumonia
Pneumonia can be caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungi. In the United States, common causes of viral pneumonia are influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and a common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). Pneumonia can also be caused as a result of being on a ventilator, known as ventilator-associated pneumonia.
Learn more below about the infections that commonly cause pneumonia.
Human Metapneumovirus (HMPV) InfectionHMPV was recently recognized as an important cause of mild upper respiratory illness, and lower respiratory illness such as pneumonia...
Human Parainfluenza Virus (HPIV) InfectionHPIVs commonly cause upper respiratory illness such as colds, and lower respiratory illness such as pneumonia, in children and adults...
Influenza (Flu)The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that can cause mild to severe illness…
Legionnaires’ DiseaseLegionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia that is caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella...
Mycoplasma pneumoniae InfectionThis generally mild illness, caused by the bacteria Mycoplasma pneumoniae, is a common cause of "walking pneumonia"…
Pneumococcal DiseasePneumococcal disease is caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae, also known as pneumococcus…
Pneumocystis pneumoniaPneumocystis pneumonia is a serious illness in people with weakened immune systems that is caused by the fungus Pneumocystis jirovecii…
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) InfectionRSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year old. But you can get RSV at any age...
Rhinovirus InfectionRhinoviruses frequently cause mild illness like the common cold, but they can also cause serious lower respiratory illness like pneumonia...
Vaccines Can Help Prevent Pneumonia
Lower Your Risk of Pneumonia
You are more likely to become ill with pneumonia if you smoke or have underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease. However, you can lower your chances by taking good care of your medical problems, and quitting smoking.
Management and Prevention Guidelines
- IDSA and ATS Consensus Guidelines on the Management of Community-Acquired Pneumonia in Adults [46 pages]
- PIDS and IDSA Clinical Practice Guidelines on the Management of Community-Acquired Pneumonia in Infants and Children Older Than 3 Months of Age [52 pages]
- CDC and HICPAC Guidelines for Preventing Health-Care-Associated Pneumonia, 2003 [179 pages]
- IDSA and ATS Guidelines for the Management of Adults with Hospital-acquired and Ventilator-associated Pneumonia, 2016 [51 pages]
- SHEA and IDSA Strategies to Prevent Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia in Acute Care Hospitals, 2008
Etiology of Pneumonia in the Community (EPIC) Study
The Etiology of Pneumonia in the Community (EPIC) study conducted by CDC, and three U.S. children’s hospitals,and five U.S. adult medical centers estimated the burden of community-acquired pneumonia hospitalizations among U.S. children and adults from January 2010 – June 2012.
- Page last reviewed: July 14, 2016
- Page last updated: August 24, 2016
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