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Flu Complications


How Long Does Pneumonia Last?

Pneumonia generally lasts about two weeks, even longer in young children, elderly adults, and those who have compromised immune systems or another chronic illness such as COPD or asthma. Even healthy people may feel tired or weak for a month or more after the lungs clear up.

What Is the Pneumonia Vaccine?

To avoid getting bacterial pneumonia, ask your doctor about the pneumococcal vaccine. There are currently 2 types of pneumococcal vaccines: pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV) for adults and the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) for children.

The PPSV pneumonia vaccine is safe and provides immunity against 23 subtypes of bacteria that commonly cause pneumonia.

If you are a healthy adult over age 65, the PPSV pneumonia vaccine is recommended. In fact, some experts suggest that adults younger than 55 get this vaccine because the immune responsiveness is greater if they do.

The PPSV pneumonia vaccine is also recommended for people at increased risk for infection, such as those with heart disease, liver disease, lung disease, kidney failure, diabetes, a variety of cancers, sickle cell anemia and for adults 19 through 64 years of age who smoke cigarettes or who have asthma. The pneumonia vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women.

Four doses of the PCV13 pneumonia vaccine are recommended for all children under age 2. For children 2 to 4, who did not receive the pneumonia vaccine series, a single vaccine should be given. For children 6 to 18 with health problems, a single dose of the pneumonia vaccine PCV13 should be given regardless of whether they were previously vaccinated.


How Can the Flu Shot Protect Against Flu Complications?

The flu shot or influenza vaccine is the number one way to prevent getting the flu. Because the flu increases the chance of getting pneumonia and other flu complications, it makes sense to prevent catching the flu. Ask your doctor about a flu shot or influenza vaccine and the pneumonia vaccine today.

(For in-depth information, see WebMD's Flu Shot: Influenza Vaccine.)

When Should I Call the Doctor About Flu Complications?

If you have a high fever and difficulty breathing, call your doctor. Other symptoms that may be serious include the following:

  • Fever with shaking chills
  • Coughing with blood-tinged mucus from the lungs
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pains
  • Wheezing.

(For in-depth information, see WebMD's When To Call the Doctor About Flu.)

Can You Prevent Flu Complications?

While many flu complications can be managed, some, depending on the condition of your immune system, cannot be prevented.

If you do get the flu, call your doctor within the first 48 hours of getting flu symptoms and ask about a flu antiviral drug. Antiviral drugs may help stop flu symptoms if taken early enough.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Ann Edmundson, MD, PhD on June 21, 2012
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