Is Pneumonia Contagious?

November 12, 2012

Is Pneumonia Contagious?

If a person has pneumonia some germs can spread to other people. These germs may cause a mild infection. But the big question remains. Is pneumonia contagious?

These germs don’t actually cause pneumonia. Normally symptoms of a cold or other mild infection appear. The answer to the question is pneumonia contagious is unclear. Pneumonia is contagious for about a two week period. But when the symptoms are at their most severe, normally between the second and fourth day, this is when they are at their most contagious.

When is pneumonia contagious? To answer this we must address if the patient has bacterial pneumonia or viral pneumonia. Each case has a different cause but both can be considered as contagious to varying degrees. But rather than these germs causing pneumonia, it is more than likely for the other person to develop upper respiratory infections such as flu or the common cold. This is because the bacteria and viruses which cause pneumonia are the same types which are present in infections of the upper respiratory tract. The germs are normally located in the nose and mouth of the person who is infected. These germs may be airborne so can be passed on very easily. They can also be spread if a contaminated surface is touched. The germs tend to enter the body via the eyes, nose or mouth. The body’s immune system then aims to destroy these germs at the same time the germs are trying to multiply. The body tries to stop any of the germs from spreading to other areas, e.g. blood and lungs. Usually the body is successful in preventing the spread of germs.

When asking, “Is pneumonia contagious?” we must all decide if contagious means further onward transmission of the illness or if it can lead to other conditions.

The body’s defense system is used to dispose of the substances which can cause harm if they travel to the lungs. But at times the defense system becomes overloaded with viruses and bacteria and so cannot perform as well as it should.

If a patient is suffering from diseases which affect the workings of the immune system they may be more prone to pneumonia developing. Diseases such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), diabetes, HIV or AIDS may reduce the body’s immunity to fight viruses and bacteria. Top of Form

Again the question is pneumonia contagious depends on the exact germ which is the cause of infection. Many scientists are still unsure of when the period of contagion begins and finishes. Particular viruses become contagious up to three days before symptoms develop. Theoretically this means a person who has pneumonia can be contagious for approximately two weeks. But the contagion is worse when the person is suffering with serious symptoms. This normally occurs in the first two to four days.

To help reduce the risk of being ill, practice good hygiene such as:

  • If you can, keep away from people who are infected

  • Keep hands away from eyes, nose and mouth area

  • Regularly wash hands

  • Do not share drinking glasses or utensils

  • If sneezing or coughing always cover the mouth area with a handkerchief


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