Answers FAQ

Pneumonia FAQs

Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Take the Pneumonia Quiz First! Before reading this FAQ, challenge yourself and
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Q:Pneumonia is usually not contagious. True or False?

A:False. Pneumonia is extremely contagious and is caused by breathing in small droplets that get into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Pneumonia can also result when bacteria or viruses from the mouth, throat, or nose inadvertently enter the lung(s).

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Q:Walking pneumonia is generally deadly if not treated in a reasonable amount of time. True or False?

A:False. Walking pneumonia is a nonmedical term to describe a mild case of pneumonia. People who have walking pneumonia are seldom confined to bed or need to be hospitalized.

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Q:What is pneumonia?

A:A lung infection. Pneumonia is an infection of one or both lungs.

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Q:With pneumonia, sputum is sometimes bloody. True or False?

A:True. With pneumonia, sputum can sometimes contain visible blood. Pneumonia can be a serious and life-threatening infection. This is true especially in the elderly, children, and those who have other serious medical problems, such as COPD, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

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Q:What are symptoms of pneumonia?

A: Most people who develop pneumonia initially have symptoms of a cold, which are then followed by a high fever (sometimes as high as 104 degrees), shaking, and chills.

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Q:Patients with pneumonia may sometimes develop purplish skin. True or False?

A:True. At times, the skin and nail color of an individual with pneumonia may change and become dusky or purplish. This is a condition known as "cyanosis," which occurs as a result of low levels of oxygen in the blood.

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Q:Pneumonia is one of the top 10 causes of death in the United States. True or False?

A:True. Pneumonia is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

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Q:When pneumonia is present, infected areas of the lung(s) fill with fluid and pus. True or False?

A:True. Once organisms enter the lungs, they usually settle in the air sacs and passages of the lung and begin to multiply. The lung area then becomes filled with fluid and pus as the body attempts to fight off the infection.

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Q:Stiffening of the lungs can occur with pneumonia. True or False?

A:True. The spongy tissue of the lungs that contains the air sacs fills with bacteria and pus that can impair the flow of oxygen, which, along with stiffening of the lungs, results in shortness of breath.

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Q:How is pneumonia diagnosed?

A:Chest X-ray or bronchoscopy and Sputum samples or blood tests. Pneumonia is typically diagnosed through a chest X-ray, sputum samples, blood tests, or bronchoscopy.

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Q:There is no vaccine against pneumonia. True or False?

A:False. Two vaccines are available to prevent pneumococcal disease, which is one type of pneumonia. The vaccines are called Prevnar (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) and Pneumovax 23 (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine).

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Q:Antibiotics are prescribed to fight all types of pneumonia. True or False?

A:False. Antibiotics will not help patients with viral pneumonia. Antibiotics work only on bacterial pneumonia.

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Q:Pneumonia can be caused by a regular influenza virus. True or False?

A:True. Viral pneumonia can be caused by an influenza virus and may be remedied with an antiflu medicine. Three drugs are available: rimantadine (Flumadine), oseltamivir (Tamiflu), and zanamivir (Relenza).

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Q:Pneumonia can be serious, but it is rarely a life-threatening infection. True or False?

A:False. Pneumonia can be a serious and life-threatening infection. This is true especially in the elderly, children, and those who have other serious medical problems, such as COPD, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

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