It usually takes three to five days before a person with pneumonia starts to feel better. It can take three weeks or more before a person feels well enough to go back to his or her normal routines. Fatigue and a mild cough can last for a month or more.
The exact amount of time that pneumonia lasts, however, varies. Many of the same conditions that increase a person's risk for pneumonia (see Pneumonia Risk Factors) also increase the time that it takes for the person to feel better. Age, the severity of initial symptoms, and the germ causing the illness also play a role in how long it takes before people start to feel better, along with when they feel back to normal.
Several vaccines are available to prevent certain types of pneumonia. These vaccines can't prevent all cases, but they definitely help. Some of these products include:
- Pneumococcal vaccine. These vaccines include the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (Prevnar®, Prevnar 13™) and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (Pneumovax®).
- Hib vaccine.
- Influenza vaccine (the flu shot). The flu vaccine is important because pneumonia is a common complication in people with the flu.
- DTaP vaccine. Whooping cough (pertussis) is a less common, but more severe cause of pneumonia in infants under four months of age. This vaccine helps prevent pertussis.
(Click Pneumonia Prevention to learn more about these vaccines.)