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Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lung, usually caused by an infection. Three common causes of pneumonia are bacteria, viruses and fungi. Pneumonia can also be caused by accidentally inhaling a liquid or chemical. Individuals at risk are older than 65 and younger than 2 years of age, or individuals with other health conditions.

Individuals with pneumonia may have difficulty breathing and/or have a cough or fever. A physical exam and medical history can help determine if an individual has pneumonia. Chest x-rays and blood tests can also help determine if pneumonia is the correct diagnosis. Treatment for pneumonia depends on the cause. If bacteria is the cause, antibiotics may be prescribed. Viral pneumonia may get better with rest and drinking liquids.

The best measures for preventing pneumonia include washing 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 25% of all pneumonias.

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