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.
How Do You Treat Pneumonia
Treatment for pneumonia depends on the cause. If pneumonia is caused bya bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed to kill the harmfulbacteria. If pneumonia is caused by a viral infection, time and restare best for recovery. Fever reducing medications and cough medicationscan help relieve symptoms and aid sleep.
What Are The Complications Of Pneumonia
Anyone can experience complications from pneumonia. However, people in high-risk groups are more likely to develop complications, including:
- Breathing difficulties: Pneumonia can make breathing difficult. Pneumonia plus an existing lung disorder can make breathing even more difficult. Breathing difficulties may require a hospital stay to receive oxygen therapy or breathing and healing assistance with the use of a breathing machine .
- Fluid buildup in the lungs : Pneumonia can cause a buildup in the fluid between the membranes that line the lungs and the inside of the chest cavity. It is a serious condition that makes breathing difficult. Pleural effusion can be treated by draining excess fluid with a catheter, chest tube or by surgery.
- Bacteria in the bloodstream : The bacteria that cause pneumonia can leave your lungs and enter your bloodstream, spreading the infection to other organs. This condition is treated with antibiotics.
- Lung abscess. A lung abscess is a pus-filled cavity in the lung that is caused by a bacterial infection. It can be treated by draining the pus with a long needle or removing it by surgery.
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Viral Vs Bacterial Pneumonia Symptoms
Although viral and bacterial pneumonia symptoms can be very similar, there are some key differences between the two. The section below outlines some examples.
- Lungs affected: Bacterial pneumonia tends to affect one particular part, or lobe, of a lung, whereas viral pneumonia typically affects both lungs.
- Symptom onset: The symptoms of bacterial pneumonia can develop either suddenly or gradually, whereas symptoms of viral pneumonia typically develop over several days.
- Symptoms: People with bacterial pneumonia usually experience a higher temperature and a wet cough, whereas people with viral pneumonia
Other Possible Causes Of Tiredness To Rule Out
It is important to first rule out that your fatigue is being caused by your illness, not the medication. Talk to your doctor about the symptoms of your illness to see if this could be a possibility. Also, be sure your doctor is well aware of any other medications you are taking. This is important information for your doctor to know because your antibiotic treatment could potentially react with other medications you are taking. Here are some other medications that antibiotics have been known to clash with:
- Cough medications
One last to consider is whether or not you are taking your medications properly. To reduce side effects, ask yourself the following questions to make sure you are properly taking your prescribed antibiotic medications:
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When Should I See My Doctor
Pneumonia can be life-threatening if left untreated, especially for certain at-risk people. You should call your doctor if you have a cough that wont go away, shortness of breath, chest pain, or a fever. You should also call your doctor if you suddenly begin to feel worse after having a cold or the flu.
Things People Dont Tell You About Pneumonia
While many of you mightve thought I have been on a hiatus due to winning the lottery and spending the past month enjoying my new home in Italy, Ive actually just been sick. Really, really sick. How sick, you ask? So sick that I couldnt even read. THAT sick.
You see, I went home to Texas for a quick, early Christmas visit with family in mid-December and came back with the worst gift ever: H1N1 flu.
Its an evil, evil virus, folks. As in fetal position for six days. And then for me, it quickly turned into pneumonia, with a side of kidney and liver failure. I spent many days in the hospital. Christmas and New Years never happened, really.
Basically, you know those stories you read in the newspaper about previously healthy people who get the flu and die unexpectedly? Well, that was ALMOST me. I was one of the lucky ones who pulled through.
Its been two weeks since I got out of the hospital now, and Im still on oxygen. Which makes me feel about 90 years old, and is something that I never dreamed Id need in my 40s.
Here are a few other things that no one ever told me about pneumonia.
1. When you are in the throes of pneumonia, before the antibiotics start to kick in, every time you cough, you will feel as though someone is reaching down through your lungs and pulling out your soul. And the sound will be violent. Horribly violent.
Have you ever had H1N1 and/or pneumonia? Whats been your experience?
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How To Regain Strength After Pneumonia
If you have pneumonia, the first priority is clearing the infection causing it.
This means following your doctor’s treatment plan very closely. Yes, getting plenty of rest. And, yes, taking every single pill in the bottle of antibiotics your doctor prescribed you if your pneumonia is bacterial in nature.
But, even after your primary symptoms fade away, you may be left feeling lousy, with low energy and/or dealing with a cough that just won’t quit. In some cases, you may feel weak for months.
What Can I Do About Fatigue
Recognise that the fatigue is real and be kind to yourself. Explain to your family, friends, and colleagues at work the impact the fatigue is having. Because fatigue is invisible, sometimes it is not properly understood. Until it is experienced it can be hard to understand the impact of fatigue and how debilitating it can be.
Get a good nights sleep. Fatigue feels much worse if your sleep pattern is also disturbed. Try to improve your sleep pattern by reading the sleeping well section.
Try relaxation techniques. These can help with fatigue as they promote a good sleep pattern, and can help reduce stress. Consider trying techniques such as mindful meditation, aromatherapy, yoga, tai chi, and other activities you find relaxing, such as reading or having a long shower or bath.
Plan, prioritise and delegate.
Eat well. A healthy diet can help. See the section on eating well.
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Treating Pneumonia In The Hospital
Some people have to be treated in the hospital. Whether you need hospital treatment depends on:
how bad your lungs are infected whether you have other health conditions like COPD, heart, or kidney disease if you have someone who can care for you at home how old you are if you need IV antibiotics
What Can I Do At Home To Feel Better
In addition to taking any antibiotics and/or medicine your doctor prescribes, you should also:
- Get lots of rest. Rest will help your body fight the infection.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Fluids will keep you hydrated. They can help loosen the mucus in your lungs. Try water, warm tea, and clear soups.
- Stop smoking if you smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. Smoke can make your symptoms worse. Smoking also increases your risk of developing pneumonia and other lung problems in the future. You should also avoid lit fireplaces or other areas where the air may not be clean.
- Stay home from school or work until your symptoms go away. This usually means waiting until your fever breaks and you arent coughing up mucus. Ask your doctor when its okay for you to return to school or work.
- Use a cool-mist humidifier or take a warm bath. This will help clear your lungs and make it easier for you to breathe.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Bacterial Versus Viral Pneumonia In Adults
Symptoms of pneumonia can range from mild sometimes called walking pneumonia to severe. How serious your case of pneumonia depends on the particular germ causing pneumonia, your overall health, and your age.
Bacterial pneumonia: Symptoms of bacterial pneumonia can develop gradually or suddenly. Symptoms include:
- High fever
Additional symptoms appearing about a day later include:
- Higher fever
- Shortness of breath
Does The Pneumonia Shot Have Side Effects
The pneumonia shot is a vaccination given to prevent illness caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, also known as pneumococcus. Infection with this bacteria can cause serious problems, including pneumonia, blood infection or meningitis — infection of the coverings surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Two forms of pneumococcal vaccines, PCV13 and PPSV23 , are available and used in specific circumstances. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends pneumococcal vaccination for all children younger than 2 years of age, all adults 65 years and older and people between these ages who smoke or have certain medical conditions 56. Although generally very safe, pneumonia shots may produce side effects, which are usually mild and transient.
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What To Expect By Age And Health
Here is how age can affect your recovery from pneumonia:
- Infants under the age of 6 months are typically hospitalized for pneumonia out of an abundance of caution.
- Children over the age of 6 months are more likely to be treated at home, provided they are typically healthy.
- Older adults may take longer to bounce back from pneumonia since our immune system naturally weakens the older we get, especially if you have a preexisting health condition. Its also more common for the elderly and chronically ill to be hospitalized for pneumonia since the rate of complications and mortality increases for those over the age of 65.
Is Pneumonia Contagious
Certain types of pneumonia are contagious . Pneumonia caused by bacteria or viruses can be contagious when the disease-carrying organisms are breathed into your lungs. However, not everyone who is exposed to the germs that cause pneumonia will develop it.
Pneumonia caused by fungi are not contagious. The fungi are in soil, which becomes airborne and inhaled, but it is not spread from person to person.
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What To Expect At Home
You will still have symptoms of pneumonia after you leave the hospital.
- Your cough will slowly get better over 7 to 14 days.
- Sleeping and eating may take up to a week to return to normal.
- Your energy level may take 2 weeks or more to return to normal.
You will need to take time off work. For a while, you might not be able to do other things that you are used to doing.
What Does Pneumonia Feel Like
Not everyone feels the same when they have pneumonia, but there arecore signs you can look out for, such as feeling like you’re out of breath,generally feeling tired or sleepy and sharp, stabbing chest pain. Note, however,that “walking pneumonia” might not have obvious symptoms or justsymptoms of a common cold.
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How Long Does It Last
It takes a certain amount of time to start to feel sick after getting exposed to a germ. This length of time is called the incubation period, and it depends on many things, especially which bug is causing the illness.
With influenza pneumonia, for example, someone may become sick as soon as 12 hours or as long as 3 days after exposure to the flu virus. But with walking pneumonia, a person may not feel it until 2 to 3 weeks after becoming infected.
Most types of pneumonia clear up within a week or two, although a cough can linger for several weeks more. In severe cases, it may take longer to completely recover.
The Case Against Antibiotics
Not only can antibiotics make you sleepy, but there are many other potential side effects of antibiotics. There is a long list of serious side effects for each medication. You need to determine whether the potential side effects are worth the benefits of the medication. Here are a few other common side effects that occur with antibiotics:
- Digestive problems
- Fungal infections, such as yeast infections
- Allergic reaction sometimes life-threatening
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When To Contact A Doctor
It is important to contact a doctor if a person believes that they or a member of their family is experiencing symptoms of pneumonia. While some people may be able to recover at home without medical assistance, others may need medication or hospitalization.
People should seek immediate medical attention if they experience any of the following symptoms:
- breathing difficulties
How Is Pneumonia Diagnosed
Sometimes pneumonia can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are so variable, and are often very similar to those seen in a cold or influenza. To diagnose pneumonia, and to try to identify the germ that is causing the illness, your doctor will ask questions about your medical history, do a physical exam, and run some tests.
Your doctor will ask you questions about your signs and symptoms, and how and when they began. To help figure out if your infection is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, you may be asked some questions about possible exposures, such as:
- Any recent travel
- Exposure to other sick people at home, work or school
- Whether you have recently had another illness
Your doctor will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope. If you have pneumonia, your lungs may make crackling, bubbling, and rumbling sounds when you inhale.
If your doctor suspects you may have pneumonia, they will probably recommend some tests to confirm the diagnosis and learn more about your infection. These may include:
- Blood tests to confirm the infection and to try to identify the germ that is causing your illness.
- Chest X-ray to look for the location and extent of inflammation in your lungs.
- Pulse oximetry to measure the oxygen level in your blood. Pneumonia can prevent your lungs from moving enough oxygen into your bloodstream.
- Sputum test on a sample of mucus taken after a deep cough, to look for the source of the infection.
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What Should You Do If You Think Mold Is Making You Tired
If you are suffering from unexplained fatigue, see your physician. Numerous conditions can cause exhaustion in addition to mold exposure, including simply not getting enough sleep at night, sleep apnea, nutritional deficiencies like iron deficiency and vitamin B12 deficiency, bacterial or viral infections, thyroid disorders, heart problems, liver or kidney problems, depression, fibromyalgia and more. Your doctor may order tests, including blood tests, to help determine whats making you so tired.
Let your doctor know about any other symptoms youre experiencing, including other mold exposure symptoms, and let your doctor know if youve been exposed to mold or think mold might be causing your low energy level. Its possible that several factors are working together to cause your exhaustion and it may take some time for your doctor to sort it out.
In the meantime, if youve discovered mold in your home, you need to get it removed as soon as possible. Exposure to mold can lead to all sorts of health problems, some of them quite serious. Even if your doctor isnt certain the mold is causing your exhaustion, you want to remove it before it leads to additional health problems. It can also cause structural damage to your home if allowed to get bad enough.