Pneumonia 101

Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs. It is the most common complication of the flu in adults and can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages.

Pneumonia spreads when a person with pneumonia sneezes, coughs, talks, or laughs, spreading germs in the air. These germs can spread to people and surfaces up to 6 feet away, and you can also get them on your hands if you touch anything that has the germs on it. Then, if you touch your eyes, nose or mouth before cleaning your hands, the germs could get into your body and infect you with pneumonia.

Symptoms can include fever, chills, coughing, fatigue and difficulty breathing.

Who Is At Risk?

  • Adults age 65 years or older
  • Individuals with certain chronic illnesses or conditions including asthma, diabetes or heart disease
  • Individuals with a weakened immune system
  • Individuals who smoke
  • Children younger than 5 years of age

How Can I Prevent Pneumonia?

  • Get a flu shot every year. Pneumonia is the most common complication of flu.
  • Ask your health care provider if you need a pneumococcal vaccination. Pneumococcal bacteria can cause severe pneumonia.
  • Avoid contact with people who have a cold or flu.
  • Clean hands often.
  • Keep hands away from your face, eyes and mouth.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • If you are in a health care facility, it is OK to ask health care workers if they have cleaned their hands.
  • Stay home when sick and limit contact with others.
  • Ask your health care provider for help to stop smoking.
  • Avoid cigarette smoke.

If you suspect that you might have pneumonia, contact your health care provider.

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