Is pneumonia contagious when on antibiotics?

By: Emily Lunardo | Immune System | Friday, June 24, 2016 - 12:30 PM

Is Pneumonia Contagious When On Antibiotics?We know that pneumonia is contagious, but is it still contagious when you are on antibiotics? Before we answer that question, let’s first explore how long pneumonia is contagious for.

When beginning antibiotic treatment for pneumonia, patients may typically observe improvements in health within two to three days. If by chance you actually get worse during this time, your doctor will change your treatment – but only after at least three days.

Antibiotics have a high cure rate for pneumonia and are chosen based on a few factors, including the age of a patient, symptoms, severity, and the necessity of hospitalization.

Is pneumonia contagious after taking antibiotics?

Even when a person is being treated for pneumonia with antibiotics – and starts to feel better – they can still be contagious for up to two weeks. In this case, patients should be cautious about people around them, cover their coughs and sneezes, and exercise proper hygiene at all times.

The rising prevalence of antibiotic resistance is to blame here. The antibiotic treatment may not always work because the bacteria can develop resistance to the medication. This is also hard to detect because the patient may start to slowly feeling better, so they assume the treatment works when really it should have worked more quickly.

Furthermore, in a healthy person whose body can very well fight off less serious bacteria, catching pneumonia from a person who is on antibiotics is way less likely, compared to the odds for someone with a weakened immune system. The defense system in these individuals is compromised, so although they would normally not get infected, they actually become quite ill.

Antibiotics for pneumonia: What you should know

Antibiotics work to kill bacteria, so they are not successful against viruses. Because pneumonia can be caused by fungus or viruses, antibiotics should only be prescribed when it has been confirmed that the cause is bacterial. Taking unnecessary antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance.

In general, antibiotics have a high cure rate for pneumonia and patients can start noticing an improvement within two to three days.

Like other medications, antibiotics for pneumonia may cause side effects, but the benefits typically outweigh. If you experience troubled breathing or swelling of the face, tongue, and mouth, you should call 911 immediately. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, a metallic taste in your mouth, and dizziness. Along with your antibiotic treatment, ensure you are getting plenty of rest so your body can heal.

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