Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"How does a person get pneumonia?"

ZocdocAnswersHow does a person get pneumonia?


My friend just got diagnosed with pneumonia. He is only 27 and I don't understand how he got it. Is it just in the air like a cold or the flu? If he got it should I also be tested for pneumonia before I get sick?


Pneumonia is a term used to describe an infection of the air spaces within the lung. This can be an infection with bacteria, viruses, or fungus. When most people get really sick from pneumonia, it is because of a bacterial infection. You can get pneumonia from many different sources. Some types of pneumonia are from breathing in airborne bacteria or from droplets of water with the bacteria. Other types of bacteria come from breathing in bacteria that live in the mouth and nose. If someone you know has pneumonia, it is probably best to avoid close contact with that person until the source of the pneumonia is known and a doctor says its not contagious. Many forms are not contagious and develop in people that have imperfect defenses. The answer to your last question is no, you shouldn't be tested for pneumonia if you do not have any symptoms. Symptoms of pneumonia include cough, fever, shortness of breath, muscle aches. These symptoms, along with findings on a chest x-ray diagnose pneumonia. The chest x-ray isn't usually done without some of those symptoms. If you are worried about any symptoms you may be having, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care physician for further evaluation and treatment if necessary.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.