After you've been infected
with a pneumonia-causing organism, it takes as little as 1 to 3 days or as long
as 7 to 10 days for symptoms to appear. How severe
pneumonia is and how long it lasts depend on:
Your age and health. Older, sicker people
usually have more severe cases. And their cases of pneumonia are more likely to cause
complications, such as bacteria in the bloodstream
(bacteremia) or throughout the body (septicemia).
or a virus caused the pneumonia. Viral pneumonia usually is less severe than
How quickly you treat it. The sooner you treat
pneumonia, the sooner symptoms go away.
immune system. People who have
impaired immune systems are more likely to have more
severe pneumonia than people who have healthy immune systems.
In healthy people, pneumonia can be a mild illness that is
hardly noticed and clears up in 2 to 3 weeks. In older adults and in people
with other health problems, recovery may take 6 to 8 weeks or longer.
Recommended Related to Lung Disease/Respiratory Problems
The symptoms of viral pneumonia usually are:
Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck
Coughing that usually brings up only a small amount of mucus
Bacterial pneumonia usually has these symptoms:
Cough with thick greenish or rust-colored mucus
Shortness of breath
Sharp chest pain that is worse with deep breaths
You may also notice...
have severe pneumonia, you may have to go to the hospital:
In most cases of pneumonia you get in your daily life, such as at
school or work (community-based pneumonia), it is not necessary to go to the
About one-third of people with
community-based pneumonia are age 65 or older.1 Older
adults are treated in the hospital more often and stay longer for the condition
than younger people.1 Pneumonia is more serious in
this group, because they often have and may develop other medical
Spreading pneumonia to others
If your pneumonia is caused by a virus or bacteria, you may
spread the infection to other people while you are contagious. How long you are
contagious depends on what is causing the pneumonia and whether you get
treatment. You may be contagious for several days to a week.
If you get
antibiotics, you usually cannot spread the infection to others after a day of