Pneumonia1 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. Jay Harold wrote this post, “3 Common Causes of Pneumonia: Lower Your Risk,” that gives you some good information to deal with this healthcare ordeal.
Common signs of pneumonia include cough, fever, and difficulty breathing. You can help prevent pneumonia and other respiratory infections by following good hygiene practices. These practices include washing your hands regularly and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces. Making healthy choices, like quitting smoking and managing ongoing medical conditions, can also help prevent pneumonia.
Pneumonia is a major cause of sickness and death in the Black American community. A post by Jay Harold states that over 5500 Black Americans2 died of Pneumonia and the Influenza in 2015.
Common Causes of Pneumonia3
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). However, clinicians are not always able to find out which germ caused someone to get sick with 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. Ventilator-associated pneumonia is when someone gets pneumonia after being on a ventilator, a machine that supports breathing. The bacteria and viruses that most commonly cause pneumonia in the community are different from those in healthcare settings.
Learn more below about the infections that commonly cause pneumonia.
HMPV is an important cause of upper and lower respiratory illness, such as pneumonia…
HPIVs commonly cause upper and lower respiratory illness, such as pneumonia, in children and adults…
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that can cause mild to severe illness…
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia caused by bacteria called Legionella
This generally mild illness, caused by the bacteria Mycoplasma pneumoniae, is a common cause of “walking pneumonia”…
The bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae, also known as pneumococcus, cause pneumococcal disease…
A fungus called Pneumocystis jirovecii can cause pneumocystis pneumonia, a serious illness in people with weakened immune systems…
RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1-year-old. But you can get RSV at any age…
Rhinoviruses frequently cause mild illness like the common cold, but they can also cause serious lower respiratory illness like pneumonia…
Each year in the United States, about 1 million people have to seek care in a hospital due to pneumonia. 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.
Often, people who have pneumonia can be successfully treated and do not have complications. Possible complications of pneumonia may include:
- Bacteremia and septic shock. is a serious complication in which bacteria from the initial site of infection spread into the blood. It may lead to , a potentially fatal complication.
- Lung abscesses. usually are treated with antibiotics. Sometimes surgery or drainage with a needle is needed to remove the pus.
- Pleural effusions, empyema, and pleurisy. These painful or even potentially fatal complications can occur if pneumonia is not treated. The pleura is a membrane that consists of two large, thin layers of tissue. One layer wraps around the outside of your lungs and the other layer lines the inside of your chest cavity. Pleurisy is when the two layers of the pleura become irritated and inflamed, causing sharp pain each time you breathe in. The pleural space is a very thin space between the two pleura. Pleural effusions are the build-up of fluid in the pleural space. If the fluid becomes infected, it is called empyema. If this happens, you may need to have the fluid drained through a chest tube or removed with surgery.
- Renal failure
- Respiratory failure
Lower Your Risk with Vaccines
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- Influenza (flu)
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Varicella (chickenpox)
These vaccines are safe, but side effects can occur. Most side effects are mild and go away on their own within a few days. See the vaccine information statements for each vaccine to learn more about the most common side effects.
Encourage friends and loved ones to make sure they are up to date with their vaccines.
CDC recommends two pneumococcal vaccines for adults 65 years or older.
- Get a dose of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) first. Then get a dose of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) at least 1 year later.
- If you’ve already received PPSV23, get PCV13 at least 1 year after receipt of the most recent PPSV23 dose.
- If you’ve already received a dose of PCV13 at a younger age, CDC does not recommend another dose.
Protect Your Health with These Healthy Living Practices
- Washing your hands regularly
- Cleaning surfaces that are touched a lot
- Coughing or sneezing into a tissue or into your elbow or sleeve
- Limiting contact with cigarette smoke or quitting smoking
- Managing ongoing medical conditions (like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease)
- Adults 65 years or older
- Children younger than 5 years old
- People who have ongoing medical conditions
- People who smoke cigarettes