How Long Does It Take For Pneumonia To Go Away
The length of time that it takes for the symptoms of pneumonia to disappear depends on the type of lung infection you have and its severity.
Dr. Carol DerSarkissian says that you may not start feeling better for up to 3 weeks while recovering from pneumonia. However, some factors can also mean that it takes longer than usual to completely recover from pneumonia. Some of these factors can include:18
- Age and strength of immune system. If you are already ill or are a senior person, your symptoms of pneumonia can be more severe and take longer to go away. If you are elderly, you should see a doctor as soon as possible when you develop the first signs of pneumonia.
- Type of infectious pneumonia. Usually, bacterial pneumonia causes more severe symptoms and complications and takes longer to treat.
- Home care for pneumonia. Its important to get plenty of rest to allow your body to recover quicker from a lung infection. Making sure you avoid irritating your lungs and drinking plenty of fluids are good ways to make pneumonia go away quicker.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Pneumonia
Its important to recognize the symptoms and signs of pneumonia to make sure that the lung disease doesnt progress and cause further complications. Pneumonia can cause symptoms similar to bronchitis, but is usually more severe and leaves a person feeling fatigued.
According to doctors from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the signs and symptoms of pneumonia can include the following:5
- Coughing or breathing deeply causes chest pains
If any of your symptoms dont improve with treatment or suddenly get worse, you should see your doctor for a checkup.
If left untreated, pneumonia can cause complications that can even be life-threatening. Some serious pneumonia complications can include:5
- Bacteria from a bacterial lung infection enters the bloodstream and causes
- Pleurisy along with sharp chest pains when breathing deeply
- Kidney problems and serious respiratory problems
Diagnostic Tests And Procedures
If your doctor thinks you have pneumonia, he or she may do one or more of the following tests.
- Chest X-ray to look for inflammation in your lungs. A chest X-ray is often used to diagnose pneumonia.
- Blood tests, such as a complete blood count to see whether your immune system is fighting an infection.
- Pulse oximetry to measure how much oxygen is in your blood. Pneumonia can keep your lungs from moving enough oxygen into your blood. To measure the levels, a small sensor called a pulse oximeter is attached to your finger or ear.
If you are in the hospital, have serious symptoms, are older, or have other health problems, your doctor may do other tests to diagnose pneumonia.
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Are Vaccines Available To Prevent Pneumonia
Yes, there are two types of vaccines specifically approved to prevent pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria. Similar to a flu shot, these vaccines wont protect against all types of pneumonia, but if you do come down with pneumonia, its less likely to be as severe or potentially life-threatening especially for people who are at increased risk for pneumonia.
- Bacterial pneumonia: Two pneumonia vaccines, Pneumovax23® and Prevnar13®, protect against the most common causes of bacterial pneumonia.
- Pneumovax23® protects against 23 different types of pneumococcal bacteria. It is recommended for all adults 65 years of age and older and children over 2 years of age who are at increased risk for pneumonia.
- Prevnar13® protects against 13 types of pneumonia bacteria. It is recommended for all adults 65 years of age and older and children under 2 years of age. Ask your healthcare provider about these vaccines.
If you have children, ask their doctor about other vaccines they should get. Several childhood vaccines help prevent infections caused by the bacteria and viruses that can lead to pneumonia.
How You Catch Pneumonia
While anyone can catch pneumonia, some people are more likely to come down with illness when coming into contact with the germs. Like many other illnesses, pneumonia is caught through contact with the bacteria or virus that creates pneumonia.
Coughing and sneezing are the most common ways these germs spread.
Its also possible to catch the illness by touching something like a counter or door handle, sharing cups and utensils, and touching your face without washing your hands first.
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Favorite Orgs That Can Help Fight Pneumonia
Those over age 65 have a higher risk of getting pneumonia than younger adults. They may be especially susceptible to community-acquired pneumonia, spread among large populations of elderly people in settings such as assisted living facilities. This organization, devoted to finding the best products and services for seniors, publishes advice on how older adults should handle prevention and care.
Influenza is a common cause of pneumonia. Several national healthcare organizations and the CDC are collaborating in an effort called United Against the Flu to stress the importance of getting immunized. The groups website supplies resources and details on the vaccination.
Bronchitis Vs Pneumonia: Why Theyre Related And How Theyre Different
A pneumonia diagnosis is based on your medical history, a physical exam, and certain test results. Your doctor determines which type of pneumonia you have based on how you became infected, what your X-ray or lung exam reveals, and which kind of germ is responsible for your infection.
During a physical exam, your doctor will check your vital signs and listen to your lungs with a stethoscope. Decreased breath sounds is an indication of a lot of inflammation, says Michelle Barron, MD, a professor in the division of infectious diseases at University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora.
If your doctor suspects pneumonia, they may order further diagnostic tests, such as a chest X-ray to help determine the extent of the infection. Blood tests and an analysis of the patients sputum can pinpoint whats causing the pneumonia. Pulse oximetry measures the oxygen level in your blood .
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When Is Pneumonia Contagious
Pneumonia is contagious when the causative pathogens are expelled by an infected person by coughing out infected droplets. These expelled droplets contain the bacteria or virus that causes the pneumonia. These droplets contaminate the mouth or breathing tract of another individual to eventually infect their lungs.
The approximate time when pneumonia becomes contagious varies with the type of infecting agent and may range from one to two days to weeks. In addition, some pneumonias are more highly contagious than others. For example, Mycobacterium and Mycoplasma organisms are highly contagious, but other types, including pneumococcal pneumonia, require optimal conditions to spread to another person and are weakly contagious.
Other Ways To Prevent Pneumonia
You can take the following steps to help prevent pneumonia:
- Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers to kill germs.
- Dont smoke. Smoking prevents your lungs from properly filtering out and defending your body against germs. For information about how to quit smoking, visit Smoking and Your Heart and Your Guide to a Healthy Heart. These resources include basic information about how to quit smoking. For free help and support, you may call the National Cancer Institutes Smoking Quitline at 1-877-44U-QUIT .
- Keep your immune system strong. Get plenty of physical activity and follow a healthy eating plan. Read more about heart-healthy living.
- If you have problems swallowing, eat smaller meals of thickened foodand sleep with the head of your bed raised up. These steps can help you avoid getting food, drink, or saliva into your lungs.
- If you have a planned surgery, your doctor may recommend that you dont eat for 8 hours or drink liquids for 2 hours before your surgery. This can help prevent food or drink from getting into your airway while you are sedated.
- If your immune system is impaired or weakened, your doctor may recommend you take antibiotics to prevent bacteria from growing in your lungs.
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How Can You Get Aspiration Pneumonia
Aspiration means the entrance of fluid or solid material into your lungs. This can happen if you have an impaired gag reflex due to a neurological disease or if you vomit while unconscious, for example, while being severely drunk. When the material you have aspired is contaminated by bacteria , you can develop bacterial pneumonia .
There is a chance that you get bacterial pneumonia when you are in close contact with someone who has developed aspiration pneumonia and coughs and sneezes.
Rarely, you can get pneumonia after inhaling dust from the skin or feathers of cats, cattle, sheep, goats or birds .
How Is Pneumonia Spread From Person To Person
Pneumonia is spread when droplets of fluid containing the pneumonia bacteria or virus are launched in the air when someone coughs or sneezes and then inhaled by others. You can also get pneumonia from touching an object previously touched by the person with pneumonia or touching a tissue used by the infected person and then touching your mouth or nose.
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How Do You Prevent Pneumonia
Getting a flu shot and a pneumonia vaccine can help protect you against the bacteria, says Dr. Dass. “Our bodies can usually clear the virus or bacteria with lots of rest and good nutrition before it turns into pneumonia,” she explains. “However, with today’s increased stress levels and decreased sleep hours, our immune systems are not in optimal shape. Lack of rest, high stress, poor diet/nutrition, and sedentary lifestyle all help fuel the onset of pneumonia.”
Considering pneumonia is “one of the most common and lethal medical conditions doctors see,” it’s a very important topic to be aware of, adds Dr. Dass. “In the most recent National Health Statistics Report published in 2018, pneumonia accounted for 0.5 percent of all emergency room visits. If you take into account all emergency room visits or office visits where this was the main issue, this accounts for more than 4.5 million people.”
Both doctors agree that staying vaccinated and staying vigilant are crucial well beyond cold and flu season. Be sure to visit your doctor as soon as you feel something’s not quite right.
Can I Prevent Pneumonia
The routine vaccinations that most people receive as kids help prevent certain types of pneumonia and other infections. If you have a chronic illness, such as sickle cell disease, you may have received extra vaccinations and disease-preventing antibiotics to help prevent pneumonia and other infections caused by bacteria.
People should get a pneumococcal vaccination if they have diseases that affect their immune system , are 65 years or older, or are in other high-risk groups. Depending on the bugs that are likely to affect them, these people also may get antibiotics to prevent pneumonia, as well as antiviral medicine to prevent or lessen the effects of viral pneumonia.
Doctors recommend that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu shot. That’s because someone with the flu could then come down with pneumonia. Call your doctor’s office or check your local health department to see when these vaccines are available.
Because pneumonia is often caused by germs, a good way to prevent it is to keep your distance from anyone you know who has pneumonia or other respiratory infections. Use separate drinking glasses and eating utensils wash your hands often with warm, soapy water and avoid touching used tissues and paper towels.
You also can stay strong and help avoid some of the illnesses that might lead to pneumonia by eating as healthily as possible, getting a minimum of 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night, and not smoking.
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What Is Covid Pneumonia
Dr. Lee: Pneumonia occurs when a bacterial or viral infection causes significant damage and inflammation in the lungs. The resulting fluid and debris build-up makes it hard for a person to breathe sometimes to such an extent that oxygen therapy or ventilator support is required. Regardless of the bacteria or virus causing it, pneumonia can become very serious, even life-threatening.
In the case of COVID pneumonia, the damage to the lungs is caused by the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
When COVID pneumonia develops, it causes additional symptoms, such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Increased heart rate
- Low blood pressure
What’s more is that COVID pneumonia often occurs in both lungs, rather than just one lung or the other. Additionally, the widespread inflammation that occurs in some people with COVID-19 can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome a severe type of lung failure.
Like other respiratory infections that cause pneumonia, COVID-19 can cause short-term lung damage. In more severe cases, the damage can last a long time. In fact, early data is showing that up to a third of COVID pneumonia patients have evidence of scarring on X-rays or lung testing a year after the infection.
How Can You Get Pneumonia
Ways you can get pneumonia include:
What is the most common type of pneumonia?
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Caring For Your Symptoms At Home
Many chest infections aren’t serious and get better within a few days or weeks. You won’t usually need to see your GP, unless your symptoms suggest you have a more serious infection .
While you recover at home, you can improve your symptoms by:
- getting plenty of rest
- drinking lots of fluid to prevent dehydration and to loosen the mucus in your lungs, making it easier to cough up
- treating headaches, fever and aches and pains with painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
- drinking a warm drink of honey and lemon to relieve a sore throat caused by persistent coughing
- raising your head up with extra pillows while you’re sleeping to make breathing easier
- using an air humidifier or inhaling steam from a bowl of hot water to ease your cough
- stopping smoking
Avoid cough medicines, as there’s little evidence they work, and coughing actually helps you clear the infection more quickly by getting rid of the phlegm from your lungs.
Antibiotics aren’t recommended for many chest infections, because they only work if the infection is caused by bacteria, rather than a virus.
Your GP will usually only prescribe antibiotics if they think you have pneumonia, or you’re at risk of complications such as fluid building up around the lungs .
If there’s a flu outbreak in your local area and you’re at risk of serious infection, your GP may also prescribe antiviral medication.
Read more about treating bronchitis and treating pneumonia
How Do Bacteria Responsible For Causing Pneumonia Get Inside Your Airway
The short answer is: You breathe in droplets containing bacteria.
The bacteria that causes community-acquired bacterial pneumonia is very common in the community. Most people who inhale droplets containing this bacteria do not get pneumonia. The droplets simply settle down inside the nose and upper airway. The bacteria colonize the upper airway. Your immune system then attacks these bacteria. After that, your immune system either gets rid of them or prevents them from invading any further. If your immune system doesnt completely eliminate them, instead restricting them to your upper airway, you become a carrier of bacteria.
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Is Pneumonia Contagious After Antibiotics
The answer to the question: is pneumonia contagious after antibiotics? depends on the type of pneumonia that is causing your cough.
Doctors often prescribe antibiotics for bacterial infections of the lungs or for viral pneumonia that has turned into bacterial pneumonia. Doctors from the National Health Service say that usually pneumonia is no longer infectious about 24 hours after taking antibiotics. However, the length of time a person is infectious can vary.15
For example, some antibiotics take longer to work in some people than other people. This means that you could still spread bacterial pneumonia to another person more than 24 hours after starting antibiotics. Or, if you have viral pneumonia together with bacterial pneumonia, you may still pass on viral infections even though you are taking antibiotics.
Key Points About Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an infection of one or both of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
There are more than 30 different causes of pneumonia, and theyre grouped by the cause. The main types of pneumonia are bacterial, viral, and mycoplasma pneumonia.
A cough that produces green, yellow, or bloody mucus is the most common symptom of pneumonia. Other symptoms include fever, shaking chills, shortness of breath, low energy, and extreme tiredness.
Pneumonia can often be diagnosed with a thorough history and physical exam. Tests used to look at the lungs, blood tests, and tests done on the sputum you cough up may also be used.
Treatment depends on the type of pneumonia you have. Antibiotics are used for bacterial pneumonia. It may also speed recovery from mycoplasma pneumonia and some special cases. Most viral pneumonias dont have a specific treatment and just get better on their own. Other treatment may include a healthy diet, more fluids, rest, oxygen therapy, and medicine for pain, cough, and fever control.
Most people with pneumonia respond well to treatment, but pneumonia can cause serious lung and infection problems. It can even be deadly.
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