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Here’s a quick primer on pneumonia

33134664_MPneumonia is a lung infection that can affect a patient’s breathing. It is most often treated successfully with antibiotics. But what causes pneumonia, and how do you know if you are at risk? Take a look below.

Causes of pneumonia

Bacteria, viruses, and even fungi may lead to pneumonia. Bacteria are the most common cause of pneumonia in the adult population.

So how do these bacteria and viruses spread? Well, you already have them living in your nose, sinuses, and mouth. It doesn’t take much for them to spread to your lungs as well. You can either breathe in these germs directly, or you may develop aspiration pneumonia. Aspiration pneumonia is caused when you inhale solids or liquids from the mouth into the lungs.

Are you at risk for pneumonia?

Certain risk factors can mean you have a greater chance of getting pneumonia than other people. Such factors include:

• A smoking habit

• Having surgery recently

• A pre-existing lung disease, such as cystic fibrosis or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

• Another type of pre-existing disease, such as diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver and certain heart conditions

• Brain disorders or injuries, including dementia, cerebral palsy or head trauma

• Problems with your immune system