Pneumonia? Can Pneumonia Be Contagious?

01 Nov 2022

While very common, pneumonia is a serious and life-threatening infection of the lungs. In this guide, let’s look at the answers to the most commonly asked pneumonia-related questions.

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a bacterial, virus, or fungi infection in one or both lungs. The infection leads to inflammation in the alveoli (the air sacs of the lungs). The air sacs may fill with pus, phlegm, or fluid, leading to difficulty breathing and other symptoms.

These symptoms can vary depending on factors such as the cause of the infection, overall health, and age. The signs of pneumonia can be mistaken for a cold or flu, but they tend to last longer.

These signs can include:

  • Cough that produces phlegm
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain when coughing or breathing
  • Confusion or changes in mental awareness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating, fever, and shaking chills
  • Very low body temperatures
  • Vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea

Infants and very young children may not show any signs of an infection. They can show symptoms like:

  • Vomit
  • Fever and cough
  • Restless and tiredness
  • Difficulty breathing and feeding

Is pneumonia contagious?

Yes, pneumonia can be contagious. Since pneumonia is caused by viruses, viruses, and fungi, which can be transmitted from one person to person. However, not all types of pneumonia can be transmitted. Similarly, not everyone exposed to the germs will develop pneumonia. People at greater risk include:

  • Adults over 65 years
  • Pregnant people
  • Children under two years
  • People with a weakened immune system
  • People undergoing chemotherapy
  • People who smoke
  • People with illnesses like heart disease and diabetes
  • People with lung conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

What types of pneumonia are contagious?

Fungal pneumonia is caused by inhaled germs or fungi from the environment, commonly from the soil. Therefore, it can’t spread from one person to another, meaning it’s non-contagious. It’s more common in people with chronic health issues or weakened immune systems.

Also, aspiration pneumonia isn’t contagious since it occurs when you inhale liquid or food into the lungs. It is common in people who have had neurological conditions like stroke.

Bacteria is the most common cause of pneumonia and can trasmit from person to person. Forms of bacterial pneumonia include:

  • Walking pneumonia
  • Streptococcus pneumonia
  • Chlamydia pneumoniae
  • Mycoplasma pneumonia
  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • Legionella pneumophila

Like bacteria, viruses are common causes of pneumonia. They can easily pass from person to person. Viral pneumonia is often mild and can go away in a few weeks. Since they can become serious and makes you vulnerable to bacterial pneumonia, it’s always best to seek medical attention.

Types of virus pneumonia include:

  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  • SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19
  • Certain common flu and cold viruses

How is pneumonia passed from person to person?

The most common types of pneumonia that are contiguous are caused by viruses or bacteria. These can trasmit through:

  • Exposure to particles of sneezes or coughs that
  • Sharing utensils like cups and spoons
  • You are not washing your hands regularly, especially after outdoor visits, blowing the nose, sneezing, or coughing.
  • Touching exposed items that someone infected had touched or used

Fortunately, there are several steps to reduce your exposure to viruses and bacteria that cause pneumonia, including:

  • Washing your hands regularly
  • Getting vaccinated
  • Avoiding or quitting smoking
  • Managing existing health conditions like diabetes
  • Taking a balanced diet and exercises
  • Limiting or avoiding contact with infected people
  • If you have it, seek medical help and stay at home.

Can pneumonia be contagious to babies?

Yes. Unfortunately, contagious pneumonia can be transmitted from adults to babies. To limit this, cover your mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing, limit close contact, and wash your hands regularly.

How long do I remain contagious if I have pneumonia?

The time it takes to spread pneumonia primarily depends on the type of pneumonia and how it was acquired. For instance, Mycoplasma and mycobacterium strains are highly contagious.

Generally, pneumonia is contiguous for about 2 – 14 days. Fortunately, seeking medical care will help limit the spread of infections. An infected person will stop being contiguous after 1 – 2 days of taking medication.

How is pneumonia treated in the Houston ER?

Typically, pneumonia treatment depends on the type of pneumonia, overall health, and severity of the symptoms. The doctor can recommend the following:

Prescription medications. The doctor can prescribe oral antibiotics to treat certain types of bacterial pneumonia. Please note that antibiotics won’t work on viruses and fungi.
While most viral pneumonia can clear independently, the doctor can prescribe an antiviral. The doctor can also prescribe antifungal medications for fungal pneumonia.

Along with these medications, the doctor can prescribe certain OTC medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen to relieve pain, fever, and cough.


Patients with severe symptoms of pneumonia or underlying symptoms can be hospitalized. The doctor will occasionally monitor the patient’s temperature, breathing, and heart rate. Treatments may include:

  • Antibiotics injections
  • Respiratory therapy
  • Oxygen therapy

When should I go to the nearest emergency room for pneumonia?

Visit a pneumonia emergency room or a 24 – ER near you if you experience the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Ongoing cough that lasts more than one week
  • Worsening or persistent symptoms
  • A high fever of over 100.4°F or 38°C that lasts more than three days

Contact our Houston Emergency Room

Are you looking for a pneumonia urgent care or ER near you? Visit or call Memorial Village Emergency Room.

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