Is Pneumonia Contagious

The answer to this question is determined by what kind of pneumonia is meant. The disease can be caused by a variety of pathogens, as well as by chemical fumes and other noxious substances. In this article, we will discuss what types of pneumonia there are, which of them are contagious, and what can one do to try to prevent contracting it.

Is Pneumonia Contagious?

The answer to this question is determined by what kind of pneumonia is meant. The disease can be caused by a variety of pathogens, as well as by chemical fumes and other noxious substances. In this article, we will discuss what types of pneumonia there are, which of them are contagious, and what can one do to try to prevent contracting it.

Are all cases of pneumonia the same?

Pneumonia is a disease which develops when pathogens invade lungs. This causes tissue inflammation, and the air sacs found in the organ become filled with pus. The most common cause of pneumonia is infections, either viral or bacterial ones. Both are contagious. So, in most cases, pneumonia is contagious, because the overwhelming majority of cases are the result of microorganism invasions.

However, not every pneumonia case has some germs behind it. Another possible cause is noxious gases and chemical fumes that can affect the lung tissue and cause inflammation. Such cases are rare, though, but becoming more frequent due to pollution. Chemical-induced pneumonia is not contagious.

As to medical terms, the range of pneumonia types is really wide. If only one lung is affected, it’s called single pneumonia, if both are, then it’s double pneumonia. If the inflammation is found in some lobe of the lung, then the case is termed lobar pneumonia.

Contagious pneumonias, i.e. the ones caused by infectious agents, fall into several categories, including viral pneumonia (caused by viruses), bacterial pneumonia (caused by bacteria), Mycoplasma pneumonia (atypical bacterial pneumonia), and kinds that have the pathogen name in the disease term, like in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus pneumonia.

Image Credit: unicef.org

There are also other terms which denote disease forms that are difficult to understand judging only by their names, such as walking pneumonia – a term used to call a mild form of Mycoplasma pneumonia. The terms can also contain information on where the disease is contracted, such as hospital-acquired pneumonia, aspiration pneumonia (it denotes an infection resulting from materials from mouth and stomach getting into lungs), and community-acquired pneumonia. All of the types mentioned above are contagious, but they are not as easy to contract as, for instance, the flu.

Is pneumonia contagious all the time?

Contracting pneumonia can occur when inhaling infected droplets expelled by a patient with the disease. The pathogens found in the liquids spread by the patient while sneezing or coughing can invade someone else’s respiratory system and mouth and cause pneumonia.

The period the disease needs to become contagious varies to a significant extent, ranging from one day to weeks. Besides, some disease types are easier to contract than others. For instance, pneumococcal pneumonia is weakly contagious, as the microorganisms behind the disease require certain conditions to spread. Mycobacteria and Mycoplasma are easy to catch, and so the diseases they cause are highly contagious.

What can I do to prevent contracting pneumonia?

Taking hygiene precautions can help you avoid contracting pneumonia, but it does not guarantee you will be safe. Here is what you can do:

  • Get vaccinated. There are vaccines that are used to reduce your chances of falling ill. Vaccines are especially recommended to seniors aged 65 or older, babies, children, and grown-ups that suffer from long-term conditions.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and on a regular basis. Use sanitizers when the risk of contracting the disease is high (when in hospitals, for example).
  • Do not share kitchen utensils and cups with those with the symptoms.
  • When sneezing, use a tissue to prevent bacteria and virus spreading. Dispose of it once you have used it. Do not forget to wash your hands afterwards.
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