How Long Can A Person Have Pneumonia (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 1-6 weeks

Pneumonia is one of the most common diseases all around the globe. It is an infection that inflames air sacs in one or both lungs. They may fill with pus or fluid and cause coughing with phlegm, fever, chills, etc. This infection may originate from bacteria, viruses, or even fungi.
People of all ages can contract pneumonia. The severity of infection may range from mild to life-threatening. Infants, young children, people older than 65 years, and those with pre-existing medical conditions /weakened immune systems are affected more strongly if they contract pneumonia. It is transmitted via air/ contact with contaminated surfaces.

How Long Can A Person Have Pneumonia?

Type of pneumoniaDuration of infection (in weeks)
Normal pneumonia 1
Walking pneumonia (a milder form)around 6

There are two types of pneumonia that a person may be infected with. The first is normal pneumonia caused by viruses/fungi/bacteria. The other is walking pneumonia, called so as it is a milder form of pneumonia. It is caused mainly by bacteria called Mycoplasma pneumonia. Risk factors and methods of diagnosis in both forms are the same. Curiously, walking pneumonia while a milder form of pneumonia, takes longer to go away. The latter goes away fairly quickly, in a week or so. However, walking pneumonia usually takes around 6 weeks to completely clear away.

Pneumonia can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi. Most commonly, we breathe in the offending bacteria or viruses from the air. While our immune system usually prevents infection from these germs, sometimes it may lose the fight and you could contract pneumonia.

Hospitalized people are at high risk as to pneumonia they might catch there would more resistant to antibiotics and wreak more havoc on an already weakened body. Apart from age, smoking excessively may also put you at higher risk of contracting the disease.

Symptoms of pneumonia are –

  1. Chest pain while breathing or coughing
  2. Coughing with phlegm or pus
  3. Fever accompanied by sweating and chills
  4. Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  5. Shortness of breath

Apart from the above, older adults may experience confusion or loss of mental awareness too. If you are experiencing any of the listed symptoms it is imperative to check in with your doctor immediately.

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Why Does A Person Have Pneumonia For That Long?

The treatment for pneumonia is primarily decided based on what kind of pneumonia the person has contracted. If it is bacterial pneumonia, your health practitioner will prescribe you antibiotics. If it is viral pneumonia, antibiotics won’t work and you will be prescribed antivirals. In case of fungal infection, you will be prescribed antifungal medication.

In cases of mild pneumonia, the doctor may simply recommend OTC (over the counter) medicines to relieve fever and pain. You can simply take these as needed and rest at home for a week or so. You will recover faster if you keep drinking a lot of fluids, and not prevent any cough from arising as that is what will clear phlegm from the lungs.
If symptoms exhibited are very severe and /or the patient has existing medical conditions, you may need to be hospitalized, where treatment may involve intravenous antibiotics, respiratory therapy, or oxygen therapy.

Sometimes, complications may arise alongside the infection. These include respiratory failure (which necessitates breathing devices), sepsis (uncontrolled inflammation in the body leading to multiple organ failure), lung abscesses (pus pockets forming in and around the lung), and fluid buildup (fluid collecting between layers of tissue lining lungs or chest cavity).

The good news is that pneumonia is preventable via vaccination. There are different kinds of vaccines that protect against different types of pneumonia, so you have to be careful not to be lax in other areas of prevention. Keeping good hygiene and maintaining a healthy lifestyle strengthens the body against pneumonia.

Conclusion

We can conclude that pneumonia, a preventable disease may last from 1- 6 weeks depending on the kind contracted. It is necessary to note that pneumonia is contagious, and patients must take care of themselves, but also ensure they do not contaminate a lot of surfaces where other people may come in contact with the germs responsible. People who smoke a lot are at higher risk and should consider healthier life choices.

An active and healthy lifestyle protects the immune system against many different diseases, including pneumonia.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673610614596
  2. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199512143332408
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