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How do you get pneumonia?

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Quick Answer

Individuals contract pneumonia when their noses and airways or immune systems fail to filter germs and those germs enter and infect the lungs. The American Lung Association points out that pneumonia is not a single disease and can have multiple causes, including the flu virus and respiratory syncytial virus.

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According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae or pneumococcus is the most common cause of pneumonia in the United States. Additionally, respiratory viruses are the most common cause of pneumonia in young children ages 5 and under. Fungal pneumonia is caused by three types of fungi found in the soil in some parts of the United States.

The symptoms of pneumonia include a high fever, chills, a cough with mucus, shortness of breath, chest pain when breathing or coughing and feeling worse after having had a cold or the flu. The American Lung Association warns that pneumonia can be dangerous and potentially fatal. Older adults and young children are the most at risk, as are individuals with current health problems and weakened immune systems.

Pneumonia caused by bacteria is treated with antibiotics. According to WebMD, respiratory therapy is recommended for individuals with lung conditions to help discharge mucus from the lungs.

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