Pneumonia - Outlook and Prevention

Authored by Dr Laurence Knott, 20 Jan 2015

Patient is a certified member of
The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Prof Cathy Jackson, 20 Jan 2015

If you are well enough to be looked after at home, your outlook (doctors may call this 'prognosis') is very good. Less than 1 person in 100 will die as a result of pneumonia. Those who die tend to be people who are older, or those who also have other health problems.

If you need to be looked after in hospital, the outlook is not quite so good. 5-10 people in 100 admitted with pneumonia to an ordinary ward rather than an intensive care unit may die. Again, these will usually be people who were unwell before they had pneumonia, or the elderly. For people who need to have a tube put into their windpipe (trachea) to help them breathe, the death rate rises to 1 in 4.

If the pneumonia is very severe, or caused by an aggressive type of germ (bacterium), such as legionella, you may need to be moved to an intensive care unit in the hospital. In these cases the outlook is much worse. Unfortunately, as many as half of these people may die.

If you are normally well but then develop repeated bouts of pneumonia, it may be the first sign of a problem of your lung or immune system. Some tests of your immune system may be advised if pneumonia happens again for no apparent reason.

Immunisation against the pneumococcus (the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia) and having the annual flu (influenza) virus immunisation are advised if you are at greater risk of developing these infections.

See separate leaflets called Pneumococcal Immunisation and Influenza Immunisation for further details.

Cigarette smoke damages the lining of the airways and makes the lungs more prone to infection. So stopping smoking will lessen your risk of developing lung infections.

Further reading and references

So, for about a month now, every time I take a breath, and especially walking outside in the cold (I live in Nova Scotia), I feel like someone has scrubbed the inside of my lungs with a brillo pad. I...

Meesha
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