Pneumonia is an infection in one or both of the lungs that is frequently caused by germs such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. You can also get pneumonia by inhaling a liquid or chemical. People most at risk are older than 65, younger than 2 years of age or those that already have health problems.
Symptoms of pneumonia vary from mild to severe and may include:
- high fever
- shaking chills
- a cough with phlegm
- shortness of breath
- chest pain or feeling suddenly worse after cold or flu
Pneumonia is diagnosed using your medical history, a physical exam and lab tests. Treatment depends on the type of pneumonia. Pneumonia that is bacteria-related is treated with antibiotics; viral pneumonia may be treated with an antiviral medication.
Preventing pneumonia is always better than treating it. Vaccines are available to prevent pneumococcal pneumonia and the flu. Other preventive measures include washing your hands frequently and not smoking.