5 Important complications associated with pneumonia that you should be aware of

Pneumonia is frequently encountered, yet it has the potential to escalate in severity and trigger diverse health complications.

5 Important complications associated with pneumonia that you should be aware of

Pneumonia, a respiratory ailment, can be instigated by bacteria, fungi, or viruses. Although the condition can improve within days or weeks, it can also precipitate additional health concerns. Even after recovering from pneumonia, there may be lingering complications. Seeking medical advice is crucial to prevent these complications. Additionally, it’s important to be vigilant for signs and symptoms beyond pneumonia, which could indicate underlying issues. In this article, we will delve into 5 significant complications of pneumonia.

5 Important complications associated with pneumonia that you should be aware of

Bacterial bloodstream infection and severe septic response

Pneumonia can be instigated by viruses, fungi, and bacteria. If bacterial pneumonia occurs, the infection can enter the bloodstream, leading to a condition known as bacteremia. This can progress to septic shock, signaling a severe bacterial infection in the bloodstream. During septic shock, blood pressure rapidly decreases to dangerous levels. This becomes life-threatening as the heart struggles to operate effectively with low blood pressure, potentially resulting in heart failure. Symptoms of septic shock include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
Bacterial bloodstream infection and severe septic response

Lung Abscesses

Lung abscesses occur when pus accumulates in the lungs. Pneumonia often triggers this condition, especially in individuals with weakened immunity, bacteremia, or gum disease. Older individuals and men face a higher risk of developing lung abscesses. It’s crucial to seek medical attention if you experience the following symptoms of lung abscesses:

  • High fever
  • Coughing up pus
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Unintentional and sudden weight loss

Effusions within the pleural space, pleuritis, and empyema

The two layers of tissue surrounding the lungs, collectively known as the pleura, facilitate smooth breathing. However, untreated pneumonia can inflame these layers, causing them to swell and become painful. If this swelling goes untreated, it can lead to the accumulation of fluid, known as pleural effusion. Moreover, if this fluid becomes infected, it may result in empyema. Here are some symptoms to recognize these issues:

  • Acute chest pain when breathing, sneezing, and coughing
  • High fever
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain in the shoulder and back

Various treatments are available for each condition.

Effusions within the pleural space, pleuritis, and empyema

Respiratory Failure

Severe pneumonia can lead to fluid buildup in the lungs, impairing oxygenation. This hampers the lungs’ ability to supply oxygen to the blood, potentially depriving vital organs of sufficient oxygen to function. While uncommon, this complication poses a greater risk to individuals with weakened immune systems. Here are some symptoms to watch for:

  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sweating

Heart Failure

Research indicates that approximately 20% of pneumonia patients report experiencing heart issues. It is hypothesized that bacterial pneumonia can impact oxygenation, potentially increasing strain on the heart. This leads to heightened cardiac workload and may result in complications. Elderly individuals or those with pre-existing heart conditions are particularly susceptible to developing heart issues following pneumonia. Therefore, it’s crucial to be well-informed about heart failure.