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How serious is pneumonia and why does it seem like older adults get it most often?

Pneumonia can range from either mild to life-threatening. Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in either one or both lungs. Once this occurs, those sacks may fill with fluid or pus, causing symptoms of cough in addition to fever, chills and difficulty in breathing.

While pneumonia is not contagious, the germs that cause pneumonia can spread from person-to-person. When these bacteria enter the lungs, they can overpower the immune system, which is very delicate. The most serious cases tend to occur with older adults, children and those with chronic diseases like emphysema, asthma and heart disease.

Most commonly, pneumonia is a secondary complication of a milder respiratory infection like bronchitis or especially with those who are afflicted with the flu.