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What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia, also called Bronchopneumonia, is an inflammation of the lung, usually caused by an infection. Three common causes are bacteria, viruses and fungi. You can also get pneumonia by accidentally inhaling a liquid or chemical. People most at risk are older than 65 or younger than 2 years of age, or already have health problems. 


Symptoms of pneumonia include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • cough
  • fever


A physical exam and history can help determine if you have pneumonia. Chest x-rays and blood tests can help determine what is wrong.


In the young and healthy, early treatment with antibiotics can cure bacterial pneumonia.

There is not yet a general treatment for viral pneumonia, although antiviral drugs are used for certain kinds. Most people can be treated at home. The drugs used to fight pneumonia are determined by the germ causing the pneumonia and the judgment of the doctor.

Besides antibiotics, patients are given supportive treatment: proper diet and oxygen to increase oxygen in the blood when needed. In some patients, medication to ease chest pain and to provide relief from violent cough may be necessary.


The vigorous young person may lead a normal life within a week of recovery from pneumonia


The best preventive measures include washing your hands frequently, not smoking, and wearing a mask when cleaning dusty or moldy areas. There is a vaccine for pneumococcal pneumonia, a bacterial infection which accounts for up to a quarter of all pneumonias 

Pneumonia is managed by physicians, nurses and other clinical staff in the Division of Pulmonary Medicine at Hopkins Children’s.