How Long Does It Take To Recover From Pneumonia
“Pneumonia is a serious illness that can take quite a toll on a person’s lungs and body. It can take anywhere from a week to several months to fully recover from it,” says Dr. Rayman Lee, pulmonologist at Houston Methodist.
The length of time it takes for you to recover from pneumonia is influenced by:
- Your age
- The severity of your illness
- Whether you have other health conditions
- The type of pneumonia
If you’re generally healthy and have only a mild case of pneumonia, your symptoms should begin to improve one to two days after starting treatment.
“Most people with mild pneumonia are able to return to their everyday activities in a week, although fatigue and cough can linger for an entire month,” says Dr. Lee.
Recovery timelines become more murky for people who have severe pneumonia.
“For more serious cases that require hospitalization, we’re not only focused on clearing the infection, we’re also focused on preventing or treating complications that can develop including difficulty breathing, fluid buildup in the lungs, sepsis, acute respiratory distress syndrome and lung abscesses,” warns Dr. Lee.
Pneumonia and its complications can wreak havoc on a person’s lungs and body. And, it can take anywhere from one to six months for a person to recover and regain strength after being hospitalized for pneumonia.
Who Is Most At Risk For Getting Pneumonia
People who have an increased risk of pneumonia include:
- People over the age of 65 and infants under age 2. The weakening immune system of older people makes them less able to fight off illnesses. Similarly, the immune system of infants is still developing and not at full-strength, making them more susceptible to infection.
- People with a health-caused weakened immune system. Examples include:
- People who are receiving chemotherapy
- Transplanted organ recipients
- People who have HIV/AIDS
- People with autoimmune disease and who are taking medications that suppress the immune system.
What Is A Balanced Diet
Okay we know it’s not a burger and fries or an entire bowl of queso and chips.
So, what does a balanced diet look like?
Here are the five principles to creating a balanced plate:
A balanced diet also means thinking about how you’re snacking between meals.
“Many on-the-go snack options are highly processed containing either unhealthy fats, refined sugar or excess salt that won’t keep you full until your next meal,” warns Snyder. “When choosing a snack, keep the above principles in mind and scale the portion back to snack-size.”
For instance, a well-balanced snack could look like:
- One cup of plain Greek yogurt topped with fruit
- Bell pepper slices with a quarter-cup of hummus
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What Are Complications Of Pneumonia
There are a number of potential complications of pneumonia. The infection that causes pneumonia can spread to the bloodstream, causing . Sepsis is a serious condition that can result in lowering of blood pressure and failure of oxygen to reach the tissues of the body, resulting in the need for intensive care management. Another complication is the accumulation of fluid in the space between the lung tissue and the chest wall lining, known as a pleural effusion. The organisms responsible for the pneumonia may infect the fluid in a pleural effusion, known as an empyema. Pneumonia can also result in the formation of an abscess within the lungs or airways.
What Are The Symptoms Of Pneumonia & How Soon Do The Symptoms Appear
Certain common symptoms of Pneumonia are fever, chills, cough, breathlessness, palpitations, fatigue, weakness, chest ache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Pneumonia is detected through chest X-rays, physical examination and other tests such as arterial blood gas test and is ideally treated with antibiotics. Nebulizers and inhalers are also administered to provide relief to pneumonia patients suffering from breathing problems.
Once the bacteria, virus or fungi that are responsible for causing Pneumonia enter the human body, it may take some time before the symptoms begin to appear. In certain cases, it can become apparent in the small duration of 1 to 3 days. For others, it may take weeks before the pneumonia infection manifests itself. How long before pneumonia symptoms appear is greatly determined by the organism that causes the Pneumonia. If Pneumonia is accompanied by flu, one may experience its symptoms within 12 hours post exposure to the flu virus. Sometimes it may even take up to 3 days for Pneumonia symptoms to surface. In case of walking pneumonia, symptoms may take weeks to show up.
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How Long Will It Take Me To Recover From Aspiration Pneumonia
Most people recover from aspiration pneumonia in a week or so with treatment. Although you might be ready to return to work or school, you might still be tired for some time after a week. Many people are still tired up to a month into recovery.
Recurrent aspiration due to underlying medical or neurological conditions can be difficult to treat and needs expert care from a multidisciplinary team.
How Is Bacterial Pneumonia Treated
Treatment depends on what caused your bacterial pneumonia and how bad your symptoms are. You may need any of the following:
- Antibiotics help treat a bacterial infection.
- Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctors order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams total of acetaminophen in one day.
- NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctors order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
- Airway clearance techniques are exercises to help remove mucus so you can breathe more easily. Your healthcare provider will show you how to do the exercises. These exercises may be used along with machines or devices to help decrease your symptoms.
- Respiratory support is given to help you breathe. You may receive oxygen to increase the level of oxygen in your blood. You may also need a machine to help you breathe.
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What Are The Types Of Pneumonia
Sometimes, types of pneumonia are referred to by the type of organism that causes the inflammation, such as bacterial pneumonia, viral pneumonia, or fungal pneumonia. The specific organism name may also be used to describe the types of pneumonia, such as pneumococcal pneumonia or Legionella pneumonia.
Other types of pneumonia that are commonly referenced include the following:
- Aspiration pneumonia develops as a result of inhaling food or drink, saliva, or vomit into the lungs. This occurs when the swallowing reflex is impaired, such as with brain injury or in an intoxicated person.
- Several types of bacteria, including Legionella pneumophila, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and Chlamydophila pneumoniae, cause atypical pneumonia. It is sometimes called “walking pneumonia” and is referred to as atypical because its symptoms differ from those of other types of bacterial pneumonia.
- Pneumonia that arises from being on a ventilator for respiratory support in the intensive care setting is known as ventilator-associated pneumonia.
I Recently Had Severe Pneumonia
I have recently been discharged from hospital after having severe pneumonia and have been recovering at home. I have a secondary infection of pleurisy for which I have been taking anti-inflammatory painkillers, which do seem to be helping. My sleep has been very badly affected, and since admission to hospital I stopped smoking and have not smoked or drunk alcohol since. I have elevated liver function results, which I am told is as a result of the large amount of intravenous antibiotics that I had in hospital, and I have been feeling some pain in my chest. I am having follow up blood tests tomorrow.The question that I cannot seem to get a good answer is about when to return to work, and what to avoid. I ventured out today and encountered people with colds, and this has made me exceptionally paranoid about getting sick again, so I am unsure what to do. I was planning on trying to return to work on Monday to see how it went, as I do get out of breath quickly. I want the flu jab, but I am told I have to wait a while before I can have this now. Any advice would be useful, as some doctors say return to work when you want, and those in hospital said I have to wait 6 weeks.
26 April 2021
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When To Call The Doctor
You should call your childs doctor if your child:
- Has trouble breathing or is breathing much faster than usual
- Has a bluish or gray color to the fingernails or lips
- Is older than 6 months and has a fever over 102°F
- Is younger than 6 months and has a temperature over 100.4°F.
- Has a fever for more than a few days after taking antibiotics
When your child should stay home and return to school or childcare
How Can You Prevent Pneumonia
Experts recommend immunization for children and adults. Children get the pneumococcal vaccine as part of their routine shots. If you are 65 or older or you have a long-term health problem, it’s a good idea to get a pneumococcal vaccine. It may not keep you from getting pneumonia. But if you do get pneumonia, you probably won’t be as sick. You can also get an influenza vaccine to prevent the flu, because sometimes people get pneumonia after having the flu.
You can also lower your chances of getting pneumonia by staying away from people who have the flu, respiratory symptoms, or chickenpox. You may get pneumonia after you have one of these illnesses. Wash your hands often. This helps prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria that may cause pneumonia.
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Is Pneumonia Treated Any Differently In Children
Essentially no. Just like adults, bacterial causes of pneumonia in children may be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics are not used to treat pneumonia caused by viruses. Flu-related pneumonia may be treated with antiviral medicine if caught early in the course of illness. Most cases of pneumonia are treated with comfort care measures that ease symptoms. These may include:
- Drinking more fluids.
- Getting more rest.
- Taking over-the-counter medicines for cough and acetaminophen for fever. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about giving medicines to your child.
- Using a cool mist humidifier in your childs room.
What Are The Symptoms
Symptoms of pneumonia may include:
- Cough. You will likely cough up mucus from your lungs. Mucus may be rusty or green or tinged with blood.
- Fever, chills, and sweating.
- Feeling very tired or very weak.
When you have less severe symptoms, your doctor may call this “walking pneumonia.”
Older adults may have different, fewer, or milder symptoms. They may not have a fever. Or they may have a cough but not bring up mucus. The main sign of pneumonia in older adults may be a change in how well they think. Confusion or delirium is common. Or, if they already have a lung disease, that disease may get worse.
Symptoms caused by viruses are the same as those caused by bacteria. But they may come on slowly and often are not as obvious or as bad.
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What Does Shortness Of Breath Mean
Shortness of breath occurs when you’re not getting enough oxygen, leaving you to feel like you need to breathe harder, quicker and/or deeper. And, if you feel like you’re not getting enough oxygen, your organs aren’t either which can have serious short-term and long-term consequences to your health.
“As mentioned, shortness of breath can be caused by a variety of conditions, ranging from asthma and COPD to heart failure. Your doctor can run the tests needed to help make a diagnosis, as well as offer lifestyle recommendations or prescribe medications that can help treat the underlying cause of your shortness of breath,” explains Dr. Safdar.
For instance, if you are diagnosed with asthma, your doctor may prescribe an inhaler and recommend you quit smoking and avoid other lung irritants.
“One thing to note is that smoking includes anything that results in smoke leaving your mouth vaping and hookah included,” adds Dr. Safdar.
If shortness of breath continues to progress despite lifestyle modifications and treatment, your doctor may refer you to a pulmonologist or cardiologist, depending on the source of your shortness of breath.
How Can I Prevent Aspiration Pneumonia Or Reduce My Risk Of Getting Aspiration Pneumonia
Things that you can do to reduce your risk of aspiration pneumonia include the following:
- Avoid drinking alcohol to excess and using recreational drugs. These can affect your ability to swallow.
- Stay upright when you are eating.
- Chew slowly and completely.
- If you have problems swallowing , talk to your healthcare provider. They might need to change or adjust your diet or medication. They can also order tests or refer you to a speech professional or swallowing specialist.
- Dont smoke or use nicotine products.
- Take good care of your teeth.
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When Can I Return To Work School And Regular Activities If I Have Pneumonia
You typically can resume your normal activities if your symptoms are gone, mild or improving and you do not have new or worsening:
- Shortness of breath or tiredness
- Chest pain
- Mucus, fever or cough
If you are generally healthy, most people feel well enough to return to previous activities in about a week. However, it may take about a month to feel totally back to normal.
What Increases Your Risk
You are more likely to get pneumonia if you:
- Smoke. Cigarette smoking is a strong risk factor for pneumonia in healthy young people.
- Have another medical condition, especially lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma.
- Are younger than 1 year of age or older than 65.
- Have an impaired immune system.
- Take medicine called a proton pump inhibitor that reduces the amount of stomach acid.footnote 3, footnote 4
- Drink excessive amounts of alcohol.
- Recently had a cold or the flu.
You are more likely to have complications of pneumonia and need to go to the hospital if you:
- Are older than 65.
- Have some other illness , or have gone to the hospital for a medical problem within the last 3 months.
- Have had your spleen removed or do not have a working spleen .
- Have an alcohol use problem.
- Have a weak immune system.
- Reside in a place where people live close together, such as a university dorm or nursing home.
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Symptoms Of Chest Infections
Pneumonia is more common in winter and spring. It can strike suddenly or come on slowly over a few days. The symptoms will depend on your age, the cause and severity of the infection, and any other medical problems you may have. Symptoms include:
- Fast or difficult breathing
- Coughing with brown or green-coloured phlegm
- Blue colour around the lips
- Stomach pain
- A child may vomit, have diarrhoea and be irritable or lethargic.
Can Pneumonia Be Prevented Or Avoided
There are many factors that can raise your risk for developing pneumonia. These include:
People who have any of the following conditions are also at increased risk:
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- sickle cell disease
You can help prevent pneumonia by doing the following:
- Get the flu vaccine each year. People can develop bacterial pneumonia after a case of the flu. You can reduce this risk by getting the yearly flu shot.
- Get the pneumococcal vaccine. This helps prevent pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria.
- Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Dont smoke. Smoking damages your lungs and makes it harder for your body to defend itself from germs and disease. If you smoke, talk to your family doctor about quitting as soon as possible.
- Practice a healthy lifestyle. Eat a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables. Exercise regularly. Get plenty of sleep. These things help your immune system stay strong.
- Avoid sick people. Being around people who are sick increases your risk of catching what they have.
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Returning To Everyday Activities
Regardless of whether you could treat your pneumonia at home or you were hospitalized for pneumonia, the best thing you can do is take care of yourself as you recover. Here are some recovery tips:
- Stay home:Be sure you stay home until your fever breaks and your coughing is at least minimal. Staying home and resting not only improves your recovery, it also protects anyone you come into contact with from getting sick.
- Get plenty of rest:Take naps when you need to, and hang low while recovering.
- Drink plenty of fluids:This will help keep your body hydrated as it works to flush out your illness.
- Complete prescription medication: Make sure to complete the full course of any antibiotics, even if youre feeling better.
- Pace yourself:Ease into your typical everyday life.
Pneumonia is a serious infection capable of damaging your lungs. While many people seem to recover from pneumonia fully, its possible your lungs will not be able to return to the same level of activity as before.
This possibility is just one reason why its important to slowly ramp up your activity level as you heal, and practice any breathing techniques your healthcare provider may recommend.