Updated: October 14, 2017
Most people with pneumonia improve after 3 to 5 days of antibiotic treatment, but a mild cough and fatigue can last up to a month. Patients who required hospitalization, the treatment in a hospital may take longer to get improvement. Pneumonia can be fatal in the elderly or those with chronic medical conditions or a weakened immune system.
Pneumonia may cause complications, especially in people with weakened immune systems or chronic diseases such as diabetes, congestive heart failure and emphysema. Complications can include:
These are cavities in the lungs that contain pus.
A condition in which you may have trouble getting enough oxygen when you breathe. You may need to use a ventilator.
In this condition bacteria from the pneumonia infection may spread to your bloodstream. This can lead to dangerously low blood pressure, septic shock, and in some cases, organ failure.
This is a severe form of respiratory failure where a medical emergency will be required.
The pleura are thin membranes that line the outside of your lungs and the inside of your rib cage. If your pneumonia is not treated, you may develop fluid around your lungs in your pleura which may become infected and need to be drained.
Death: In some critical cases, pneumonia can be fatal.
There are a number of factors that increase the risk of developing pneumonia. These include:
Most types of bacterial pneumonia are not highly contagious. But it is possible to spread bacteria from one person to another. Breathing in infected droplets that come from patients who are coughing or sneezing can spread the disease to others.
Usually pneumonia occurs in people with risk factors or weakened immune defenses when bacteria that are normally present in the nose or throat invade the lung tissue. Any kind of bacterial or viral pneumonia has the potential to be contagious. Mycoplasma pneumoniae and tuberculosis are two types of bacterial pneumonia that are highly contagious.
Fungal pneumonia from the environment can be infectious, but it does not spread from person to person.
Since pneumonia varies according to the type of germ or organism that has caused it, it is unpredictable to say exactly how long an adult or child with pneumonia will be contagious.
This contagious period can range from one to two days to weeks. Usually when an infected person will be coughing or sneezing, contaminated droplets are released into the air.
If antibiotics are taken, after 24 to 48 hours many bacterial pneumonia becomes much less contagious. However, this time period may vary for some organisms. For example, with tuberculosis, the person will be no longer contagious after taking two weeks or more of antibiotics. With viral pneumonia, the patient becomes less contagious after the symptoms have improved, especially fever.