Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages. Depending on the cause, doctors often treat pneumonia with medicine. In addition, vaccines can prevent some types of pneumonia. However, it is still the leading infectious 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
Viruses, bacteria, and fungi can all cause pneumonia. In the United States, common causes of viral pneumonia are influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). A common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). Pneumonia can also result from being on a ventilator, which is known as ventilator-associated pneumonia.
Learn more below about the infections that commonly cause pneumonia.
Etiology of Pneumonia in the Community (EPIC) Study
Three U.S. children’s hospitals, five U.S. adult medical centers, and CDC conducted the EPIC study to better understand pneumonia. The study estimated the burden of community-acquired pneumonia hospitalizations among U.S. children and adults from January 2010 – June 2012.
Vaccines Can Help Prevent Pneumonia
Lower Your Risk of Pneumonia
You are more likely to get pneumonia if you smoke or have underlying medical conditions, like 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
The Management of Community-Acquired Pneumonia in Adults [46 pages]
The Infectious Diseases Society of America and American Thoracic Society developed these consensus guidelines.
The Management of Community-Acquired Pneumonia in Infants and Children Older Than 3 Months of Age [52 pages]
The Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society and Infectious Diseases Society of America developed these clinical practice guidelines.
Guidelines for Preventing Health-Care-Associated Pneumonia, 2003 [179 pages]
CDC and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee developed these recommendations.
Management of Adults with Hospital-acquired and Ventilator-associated Pneumonia, 2016 [51 pages]
The Infectious Diseases Society of America and American Thoracic Society developed these clinical practice guidelines.
Strategies to Prevent Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia in Acute Care Hospitals, 2014
The Society of Healthcare Epidemiology of America and Infectious Diseases Society of America developed these guidelines.
- Page last reviewed: July 14, 2016
- Page last updated: August 29, 2017
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