What are possible complications of pneumonia?
Severe cases of pneumonia may require treatment in the hospital. Your doctor may give you oxygen to help you breathe or antibiotics through an IV.
Complications of pneumonia include pleural effusion and bacteria in the bloodstream. Pleural effusion is when fluid builds up in the layers of tissue between your lungs and the wall of your chest and becomes infected. This can make breathing very difficult. To drain the fluid, a tube may need to be placed between your lungs and your chest wall, or you may need surgery.
Bacteria in the bloodstream occur when the pneumonia infection in your lungs spreads to your blood. This increases the risk that the infection will spread to other organs in your body. Bacteria in the bloodstream are treated with antibiotics.
People who have heart or lung problems, people who smoke, and people who are 65 years of age and older are more likely to experience complications from pneumonia.
This information was developed as part of an educational program made possible through support from Wyeth Vaccines.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff