Pneumonia

Young girl with fever

Globally, pneumonia (an infection of the lungs) kills more children younger than 5 years old each year than any other infectious disease, such as HIV infection, malaria, or tuberculosis.

In the United States, more than 250,000 people have to seek care in a hospital due to pneumonia each year. Unfortunately, about 50,000 people die from the disease each year in the United States. Most of the people affected by pneumonia in the United States are adults.

Vaccines and appropriate treatment (like antibiotics and antivirals) could prevent many of these deaths—globally and in the United States.

Quiz

Key Facts

  • Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages.
  • Viruses, bacteria, and fungi can all cause pneumonia.
  • Common signs of pneumonia can include cough, fever, and trouble breathing.
  • Bacteria and viruses that commonly cause pneumonia in the community are different from those in the healthcare settings.
  • A common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus).

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Grandfather kissing grandson

Who Can Get Pneumonia

Certain people are more likely to become ill with pneumonia: adults 65 years or older; children younger than 5 years old; people who have ongoing medical conditions (like asthma, diabetes or heart disease); and people who smoke cigarettes. Encourage friends and loved ones to make sure they are up to date with their vaccines.

Lab technician

Causes of Pneumonia

Viruses, bacteria, and fungi can all cause pneumonia. In the United States, a common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). However, clinicians are not always able to find out which germ caused someone to get sick with pneumonia.

Woman placing wash cloth on head

Types of Pneumonia

Community-acquired pneumonia is when someone develops pneumonia in the community (not in a hospital). Healthcare-associated pneumonia is when someone develops pneumonia during or following a stay in a healthcare facility. Healthcare facilities include hospitals, long-term care facilities, and dialysis centers.

Man sneezing into sleeve

Pneumonia Prevention

Try to stay away from sick people. If you are sick, stay away from others as much as possible to keep from getting them sick. Wash your hands regularly and cough or sneeze into a tissue or into your elbow or sleeve. You can also help prevent respiratory infections by cleaning surfaces that are touched a lot and limiting contact with cigarette smoke. It is always important to manage and prevent conditions like diabetes.

Prevention Tips

  • Get vaccinated. Vaccines can help prevent infection by some of the bacteria and viruses that can cause pneumonia.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Clean surfaces that are touched a lot.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or into your elbow or sleeve.
  • Limit contact with cigarette smoke.
  • Manage and prevent conditions like diabetes.

 

More at CDC.gov

Page last reviewed: November 5, 2019