Pneumonia: Possible Complications

elderly person with pneumonia

Pneumonia are more serious for infants and young children. Pneumonia can be very very serious and can cause death.


How Serious is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia can be very very serious and can cause death.

Pneumonia are more serious for infants and young children, older adults (people 65 years or older), people who have other chronic health problems, and people who have weak immune systems as a result of diseases or other factors.

If you develop pneumonia, your chances of a fast recovery are greatest if:

  •  you are young
  •  your pneumonia is caught early
  •  your immune system of your body’s defense against disease is working well
  •  the infection hasn’t spread
  •  you are not suffering from some other illnesses

With treatment, most patients will improve within two weeks. Elderly patients may need longer treatment.

If you have taken antibiotics, your doctor may want to make sure your chest x-ray becomes normal again after you finish the whole prescription. It may take 6 weeks for your x-ray to clear up.

Possible Complications of Pneumonia

People who may be more complications from pneumonia include:

  • Older adults or very young children
  • People whose immune system does not work very well
  • People with other, serious medical problems such as diabetes or cirrhosis of the liver

Possible complications include:

  • Respiratory failure, which requires a breathing machine or ventilator
  • Sepsis, a condition in which there is uncontrolled inflammation in the body, it will lead to widespread organ failure
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a severe form of respiratory failure
  • Lung abscesses – these are infrequent, but very serious, complications of pneumonia. They often occur when pockets of pus form inside or around the lung. It may be sometimes need to be drained with surgery.

Who Gets Pneumonia?

Anyone can get pneumonia, but other people are at a higher risk than others.

Risk factors (that increase your chances of getting pneumonia) include:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Recent viral respiratory infection a cold, influenza, laryngitis, etc.
  • Difficulty swallowing (due to stroke, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, or other neurological conditions)
  • Chronic lung disease such as bronchiectasis, COPD or cystic fibrosis
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Other serious illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes or liver cirrhosis
  • Living in a nursing facility
  • Impaired consciousness (loss of brain function due to stroke, dementia or other neurologic conditions)
  • Recent surgery or trauma
  • Having a weakened immune system due to certain medications, illness and autoimmune disorders
  • Learn more about preventing pneumonia.