Pneumonia is an infection to one or both of your lungs. How severe its symptoms are depends on several factors, like the organism that caused it, your general health status, and how immediately you got treatment for it. But, how exactly is pneumonia contagious? Find out here.
Is Pneumonia Contagious?
When you hear that someone has developed pneumonia, your immediate concern would be: nakakahawa ba ang pneumonia?
The short answer is yes, some types of pneumonia are contagious. To be specific, viral and bacterial pneumonia can spread from person to person.
Fungal pneumonia, on the other hand, is generally not contagious. The fungi originally came from the soil, and then they become airborne.
When a person inhales the fungi, they may develop fungal pneumonia, but they wouldn’t be able to spread it to another person.
However, please note that not all people who get exposed to the pneumonia-causing organism will develop pneumonia.
How Does Pneumonia Spread?
Now that we have answered the question, is pneumonia contagious?, let’s talk about how the infection spreads.
In general, the organisms that cause pneumonia are inhaled.
The bacteria or virus then stays in the person’s nose and throat, which they can spread via:
- Coughing or sneezing. When a pneumonia-infected person coughs, sneezes, or even talks, they launch tiny droplets that contain the pathogen. Anyone close to them may inhale the organism and get infected as well.
- Transferring it to an object. When the person with pneumonia touches an object, they could transfer the bacteria to its surface. Other people then might touch the contaminated object and get the organism on their hands. If they touch their mouth and nose, the infection could set in.
- Sharing of utensils. Pneumonia can easily spread if one member of the family is infected and they share spoons or cups with others. This transmission route is also common among close friends or roommates.
Who’s More at Risk of Developing Pneumonia?
After learning that pneumonia is contagious, it’s time to re-examine how not all people who get exposed to the pneumonia-causing organism will develop pneumonia.
Hence, it’s important to understand the factors that make a person more at risk of getting the infection.
Generally, you have a higher risk if you have:
- A weakened immune system. People who are under the age of 2 and over 65 are vulnerable. The same thing is true for people who have conditions that decrease their immunity (HIV, chemotherapy, autoimmune diseases). Pregnant women also have a weaker immune system as their body focuses on supporting the growing baby.
- Conditions that affect the lungs. For instance, if you’ve just been recently sick with flu or cold, you may be more at risk of developing pneumonia.
- Smoking and Drinking Habits. Alcohol could weaken the immune system and smoking causes damage to the lung tissues, compromising their ability to fight off pneumonia.
- Exposure to Toxic Fumes. Regular or prolonged exposure to second-hand smoke, chemicals, and other air pollutants might weaken the integrity of the lungs, making it easier for the infection to set in.
- Recently been admitted to the hospital. You become more at risk if you spent a lot of time lying down. This particular position allows the accumulation of mucus, fluids, and germs in the lungs.
How to Prevent the Spread of Pneumonia
Since pneumonia is contagious, it’s crucial to take measures to reduce its spread.
If you develop pneumonia symptoms like coughing, fever, shortness of breath, and chest pain when coughing or breathing, consider the following steps:
Seek Medical Help Right Away
According to reports, you are still considered contagious until the 2nd day of your antibiotic therapy, granted that you no longer have a fever. This is the reason why going to the doctor as soon as you develop the symptoms is important.
If you have viral pneumonia, remember that you may still be contagious until your symptoms have improved and you no longer have a fever for a couple of days.
Stay at Home
To reduce the spread of pneumonia, do your best to limit social interaction. If it’s possible, stay at home until you have recovered.
If you can’t help but be with people, try to stay as far away from them as possible. Additionally, wear a face mask and practice cough etiquette.
Wash Your Hands Frequently
Since pneumonia can spread through contaminated objects, avoid touching things without washing your hands first.
Similarly, encourage all the members of your family to frequently and thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Disinfect Frequently-touched Surfaces
At home, try to disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces, such as:
- Remote control
- Fridge handle
Avoid Sharing Personal Items
Don’t share utensils, especially if you suspect that you or a family member is suffering from pneumonia or any respiratory disease.
Additionally, consider doing the laundry more often to reduce the spread of infection.
Consider Getting Pneumonia or Flu Vaccine
Nakakahawa ba ang pneumonia? Since the answer to this concern is generally yes, why not consider getting your entire family vaccinated annually?
This step may not protect you from all types of pneumonia, but it might be able to protect you from life-threatening pneumonia complications.
Keep Your Immune System Strong and Your Lungs Healthy
Finally, a good way to reduce the spread of pneumonia is to keep your immune system strong and your lungs healthy.
Maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, cut back on alcohol, and avoid or quit cigarette smoking.
Pneumonia is a common respiratory infection, but it’s also preventable.
Consider the measures outlined above to reduce its spread. And of course, go to your doctor right away if you develop pneumonia symptoms.
Learn more about Pneumonia here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.