Pneumonia is lung inflammation. It is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., especially in the elderly.

Signs & Symptoms

  1. Chest pain when breathing in.

  2. Fever and chills.

  3. Cough, often with bloody, dark yellow, green, or rust-colored sputum.

  4. Shortness of breath. Rapid breathing.

  5. Appetite loss.

  6. Fatigue. Headache. Nausea. Vomiting.

  7. Bluish lips and fingertips, if severe.


Viral or bacterial infections are the most common causes. Other causes are fungal infections and chemical irritants like inhaled poisonous gases.

Risk Factors

  1. Having had pneumonia before.

  2. Being in the hospital for other problems.

  3. A suppressed cough reflex after a stroke.

  4. Smoking.

  5. Very poor diet, alcoholism, or drug use.

  6. A recent respiratory infection.

  7. Emphysema. Chronic bronchitis.

  8. Radiation treatments, chemotherapy, and any medication or illness that wears down the immune system.


Questions to Ask

Self-Care / Prevention

  1. Get vaccines for influenza and pneumonia. (See Immunization Schedule.)

  2. Don’t smoke. If you smoke, quit. Avoid secondhand smoke.

  3. Get plenty of rest.

  4. Use a cool-mist vaporizer in the room(s) in which you spend most of your time.

  5. Drink plenty of fluids.

  6. Take medicines as prescribed by your doctor. Take the medicine for pain and/or fever that your doctor advises. Over-the-counter pain relievers should be avoided for some types of bacterial pneumonia.

Common Health Problems  »  Respiratory Conditions

Do you have severe shortness of breath and/or blue or purple-colored lips and fingertips?

Do you have signs and symptoms of pneumonia listed above?

Treatment depends on its type (viral, bacterial, or chemical) and location. Treatment includes:

  1. Medications.

  2. Oxygen therapy. Hospitalization. Removing fluid from the lungs, if needed.