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Leah McCabe

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About Author — Leah likes writing about health and science subjects. Through her writing she hopes to help people of all backgrounds have equal access to information and quality healthcare.

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog.

How Long Does Pneumonia Last?

Pneumonia recovery time depends on the severity, the type of pneumonia and the individual.

It is also important to note that even after pneumonia is gone, your body’s still working to get back to normal. This means you may feel tired as your energy is used to strengthen your immune system. You will also have a cough for several weeks to clear your lungs of remaining mucus.

How Long Does Pneumonia Last?

Below is a rough outline of what to expect for typical cases of pneumonia in otherwise healthy individuals:

1 week: Fever subsides
4 weeks: Mucus production down and chest feels some relief
6 weeks: Reduced coughing and improved breathing
3 months: Symptoms should be gone, although fatigue may linger
6 months: Full recovery

Remember, recovery varies drastically depending on who is infected and the type of pneumonia, the timeframes above do not apply to all cases.

Read on to learn more about pneumonia and how long pneumonia lasts.

Types of Pneumonia

There are 4 types of pneumonia. Each is contracted and spread differently. They also differ in severity and therefore recovery time. The different types of pneumonia include:

Bacterial Pneumonia: This is pneumonia caused by bacteria. If antibiotics are prescribed quickly it usually subsides within a week. However, your body will still be working to clear the mucus from your lungs and a cough may linger for several weeks.

Without antibiotics this type of pneumonia can have terrible health risks as the bacteria multiply and spread from the lungs. Lack of treatment can lead to hospitalization and even death.

  • Viral pneumonia: This is pneumonia caused by a virus. Typically respiratory viruses are the cause, as they infect the lungs. This type of pneumonia is rarely serious and with proper treatment typically goes away faster than bacterial pneumonia. That said, a cough could remain for several weeks as your body clears the lungs and returns back to normal.

  • Mycoplasma pneumonia: Mycoplasma pneumonia, also called walking pneumonia, is an atypical form of bacterial pneumonia. However, it usually presents a milder case and shorter recovery time. This is because it typically infects older children and young adults who have stronger immune systems than the elderly and babies.

  • Fungal pneumonia: Fungal pneumonia occurs when fungus typically from bird droppings or soil is inhaled. It is rare and usually affects those who work around fungus, and those who have chronic diseases or weakened immune systems such as HIV/AID patients. Patients with weakened immune systems will have a much harder time fighting off pneumonia and will likely be hospitalized for round the clock treatment and monitoring.

Who is at Risk of Pneumonia?

Some groups of individuals are much more susceptible to pneumonia than others. These groups include:

  • Infants to 2 year olds
  • People 65 and older
  • Stroke survivors who have swallowing problems or are bedridden. (Small amounts of liquids in the lungs from improper swallowing can build up and lead to pneumonia.)
  • Those with weakened immune systems due to disease or medications
  • People who smoke, abuse drugs and alcohol
  • People with asthma, cystic fibrosis, diabetes or heart failure

For individuals who fall into any of these categories pneumonia can be seriously debilitating and recovery can take months. Early diagnosis combined with proper treatment is crucial to prevent pneumonia from worsening. In some cases patients may be hospitalized to receive intensive treatment and have their progress monitored.

Regardless of your general health and age, if you believe you are suffering from pneumonia it is crucial you get an official diagnosis and treatment plan from your doctor as soon as possible so you can start feeling healthy again.

Think you might be experiencing symptoms of pneumonia? Book an appointment with a PlushCare physician and get a prescription treatment today.


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