This information has been reviewed and approved by Patrick Stendel, MPH, Infection Preventionist (October 2023).
Things to Know About Pneumonia Summary:
What is Pneumonia?
When viruses, bacteria or chemical irritants cause the lungs to become inflamed, it can result in pneumonia. Pneumonia is a severe infection in which the air sacs of the lungs are filled with pus and other liquids.
Common Causes of Pneumonia
Human metapneumovirus (HMPV)
Influenza (the flu)
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
Rhinovirus (the common cold)
How Common Is Pneumonia?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.4 million people are hospitalized with pneumonia every year.
In rare cases, pneumonia can be deadly. By last count, 41,309 people died of pneumonia in 2021.
Who’s Most Affected?
People are more likely to be at risk for severe pneumonia outcomes if they are:
Over 65 years old
Younger than 2 years old
Loss of appetite
Shortness of breath
When Is Peak Season?
Pneumonia case rates typically peak right after the height of respiratory virus season, since pneumonia results from lung damage caused by respiratory infections. While infection rates are usually at their highest during the winter months, pneumonia can surge during the spring and fall as well.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you think you have pneumonia, seek medical attention immediately, as cases can become serious. Most of the time, pneumonia is diagnosed either through an X-ray or CT scan.
Pneumonia treatments can vary widely, depending on symptoms. Talk to your doctor about the treatment plan that’s right for you.
How To Take Precaution
Stay up to date on your vaccines:
Make sure to wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. You can check the CDC for the most current information.