What is pneumonia, how is it caused, and how can it be prevented?

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Pneumonia can have many different symptoms. Sometimes people suffer several of them while sometimes they may experience only one. Some of these symptoms include cough, chills, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting. Usually when pneumonia is present mucus is coughed up from the lungs. People suffer from shortness of breath and sometimes an increased heart rate because of the infection. Pneumonia usually starts as an upper respiratory infection.

Chest x-rays are often used to find out if a person has pneumonia. Sputum cultures are also sometimes collected.

In addition to elderly people, young children under the age of one are especially at risk for developing more serious complications from the infection.

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Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites.  Bacteria and viruses are the primary causes of pneumonia, which is characterized by inflammation of the inveoli, microscopic sacs in the lungs that absorb oxygen.  These sacs fill with fluid, so the condition can become serious enough to cause death; often pneumonia is the cause of death in the elderly.

In the United States, more than 3 million people contract pneumonia, but only 5% succumb to death as a result of the infection.  One of the concerns of people who contract influenza is pneumonia.

There are several ways to prevent pneumonia:  Two vaccines exist to prevent the most common type, pneumococcal disease (Prevnar and Pneumovax).  Doctors recommend that people wash their hands regularly, do not smoke, avoid any spitum or cough particles from people with pneumonia, and eat healthy and exercise. 

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