Health & Wellness

Is pneumonia contagious?

A phlegmy cough with chest pain when your breathe. Fever and chills. These are the hallmark symptoms of pneumonia.

Bacteria and viruses are the most common causes of pneumonia. A severe case of influenza can develop into the severe lung infection, which may be why it's believed that pneumonia is contagious, too.

So, if someone with pneumonia coughs on you, are you going to catch it? Watch NBC medical correspondent Dr. Natalie Azar in the video above for more.

Viral pneumonia can develop from, and has similar symptoms, to a cold or flu. Viral pneumonia can lead to the more serious bacterial pneumonia, which can cause a fever as high as 105 degrees Fahrenheit. A common cause of bacterial pneumonia is the pneumococcus germ — but doctors aren't always sure where a pneumonia infection comes from, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most people recover from pneumonia after several weeks, but the infection kills about 50,000 people a year in the U.S. It can strike anyone, at any age, but the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk. There are several vaccines that can help prevent it.

Related: When to take antibiotics for a respiratory infection — and when to say no

Symptoms of bacterial pneumonia, include:

  • fever
  • sweating
  • shaking
  • chills
  • Cough, which may produce phlegm
  • Chest pain when you breathe or cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • vomiting or diarrhea
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