Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages. Signs of pneumonia can include coughing, fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing or shortness of breath, chills, or chest pain. Certain people are more likely to become ill with pneumonia. This includes adults 65 years of age or older and children younger than 5 years of age. People up through 64 years of age who have underlying medical conditions (like diabetes or HIV/AIDS) and people 19 through 64 who smoke cigarettes or have asthma are also at increased risk for getting pneumonia.
Encourage friends and loved ones with certain health conditions, like diabetes and asthma, to get vaccinated against the flu and bacterial pneumonia.
When bacteria, viruses or, rarely, fungi living in your nose, mouth, sinuses, or the environment spread to your lungs, you can develop pneumonia or other infections. You can catch the bacteria or viruses from people who are infected with them, whether they are sick or not.
You may have heard of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). When someone develops pneumonia in the community (not in a hospital), it's called CAP.
Pneumonia developed during or following a stay in a healthcare facility (like hospitals, long-term care facilities, and dialysis centers) is called healthcare-associated pneumonia (HCAP), which includes hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP) and ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP).
Pneumonia can be prevented with vaccines. Following good hygiene practices can also help prevent respiratory infections. This includes washing your hands regularly, cleaning hard surfaces that are touched often (like doorknobs and countertops), and coughing or sneezing into a tissue or into your elbow or sleeve. You can also reduce your risk of getting pneumonia by limiting exposure to cigarette smoke and treating and preventing conditions like diabetes and HIV/AIDS.
In the United States, there are several vaccines that prevent infection by bacteria or viruses that may cause pneumonia. These vaccines include:
To acquire asthma, people seem to need to have been born with a predisposition to the disease. It may not reveal itself until they have been exposed to some asthma irritants.
A mother who smokes, low birth weight, a lack of exposure to infection in early life and traffic fumes have all been associated with the increase in asthma. Less draughty houses resulting in an accumulation of house dust mites and cooking gases may also be part of the problem.
Currently, a great deal of research is being carried out to look for the genes that allow asthma to develop. But until we can prevent asthma, the aim of treatment is to suppress the symptoms and try to avoid the triggers where possible.