When people discover that another individual has pneumonia, their first instinct is to stay away and avoid physical contact with the affected individual. However, not all pneumonia is contagious — whether or not it can be transmitted to others depends on the organism that caused the illness.1
How Will You Know if Your Pneumonia Is Contagious?
Viral and bacterial pneumonia are usually contagious, and can be passed on to other people through exposure. However, they are not contagious throughout the entire course of the illness — only during a certain period. Bacterial pneumonia, which is contagious, becomes less so after a few days of antibiotic treatment.2
On the other hand, pneumonia caused by fungi or chemicals is not contagious. Chemical pneumonia, which is caused by inhalation of toxic fumes or gases, often manifests either because of chemical injury to the lung tissue or aspiration of gastric contents (such as gastric or stomach acid),3 for example, in people with altered levels of consciousness, such as comatose patients or inebriated individuals.4 So, unless a virus or bacteria infects the lung tissue that is injured, this type is usually noncontagious.5
Factors That Increase Your Pneumonia Risk
Children below the age of 5 and adults over the age of 65 have a higher risk of pneumonia, as their weakened immune systems make them more susceptible to this illness. There are also certain risk factors that make people more likely to acquire pneumonia. These include:6
- Having a weakened immune system due to medications
- Having a pre-existing medical condition, such as heart or lung disease, asthma, AIDS/HIV, cancer, or damaged or removed spleens
Contagious pneumonia cases can spread quickly, so if someone you know has bacterial or viral pneumonia, make sure to take extra precautions to avoid becoming infected. Here are some strategies to remember:
Wash your hands frequently with water and a nonantibacterial soap.
Do not share eating utensils and glasses with people infected with pneumonia.
Avoid smoking, as tobacco can weaken your lungs and hinder your ability to fight infections.7
Strengthen your immune system by consuming a healthy diet composed of fresh, organic whole foods. Avoid processed foods at all costs.
Get enough exercise, which not only will help reduce inflammation, but bolster your immune system as well.
Avoid stress. Stress and anxiety can impair your immune system and make your body more susceptible to infections.
Get plenty of rest and high-quality sleep.