The main symptoms of pneumonia—trouble breathing, chest pain, cough, and fever—are usually the same, no matter what type of pneumonia you have.

But there’s more than one cause of pneumonia, and figuring out what’s behind your illness can help a healthcare provider effectively treat your condition.

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that causes inflammation and fluid buildup in the alveoli, which are tiny air sacs in your lungs. Pneumonia can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages.

Still, you’re more likely to get pneumonia if you smoke or have underlying health conditions like diabetes or heart disease.

You can help protect against pneumonia. Some vaccines may protect against and lessen symptoms of some types of pneumonia. For example, being vaccinated against the flu can less your risk of being sick with the flu.

Therefore, your risk of pneumonia as a complication of the flu also lowers. Also, practicing good hand hygiene and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces are helpful.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 47,000 people died from pneumonia in the United States in 2020.3

Arming yourself with all the facts about pneumonia—including what most commonly causes the lung infection—can help you stay as pneumonia-free as possible.

Here, experts explained what you need to know about the three main causes of pneumonia.


Most commonly, the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae infects and colonizes in the upper respiratory tract in cases of bacterial pneumonia.4

Bacterial pneumonia causes symptoms such as:5

  • Fever and chills
  • Sweating
  • Coughing
  • Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain

Viral pneumonia causes symptoms that may include:11

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion (especially in older adults)
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can range from mild to severe. Different types of microorganism cause pneumonia, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. 

Treating your symptoms is essential if you’re experiencing typical signs of pneumonia, fever, chills, cough, and shortness of breath. Some types of pneumonia require antibiotics or antifungal medicines. Generally, mild cases of viral pneumonia usually subside with rest and fluids.

Sourced from Health

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