Complications of Pneumonia

You might have heard cases of persons who died because of the pneumonia complications. Pneumonia is considered as a killer disease worldwide that can affect anyone. Thus, we should know about the various complications associated with Pneumonia that can lead to fatal conditions.

Let’s briefly discuss the common complications of pneumonia.

Abscesses: The abscesses are pus filled cavities that are formed due to damaged lung tissues. In severe untreated cases, they can lead to haemorrhage (bleeding) in the lungs. Abscesses are treated by using antibiotics.

It occurs due to aspiration pneumonia caused by various micro organisms that infect the lungs such as Staphylococcus Aureus or Klebsiella pneumonia. The abscesses caused by Streptococcus pneumonia are uncommon.

Respiratory Failure: It refers to the failure of the respiratory system in individuals infected with pneumococcal pneumonia. It is a fatal condition that poses great risk to patient’s life.

It includes the following conditions

                    ARDS (Acute respiratory distress syndrome) involves severe reduction in Oxygen levels due to compromised lung functions. It is a major cause of death in many patients.

                    Ventilatory failure involves mechanical changes in the lungs due to pneumonia

                    Hypoxemic respiratory failure involves loss of oxygen in the arteries.


Bacteraemia: This condition is characterised by the presence of bacteria in blood. It occurs due to infection caused by pneumococcus and other gram-negative organisms like Haemophilus influenza.

Pleural Effusion: In this condition the space present between the lung and chest walls witness the build up of fluid. Generally, the lungs are covered by visceral pleura and chest walls are covered by parietal pleura.

This build-up of the fluid between the pleural membranes results in breathlessness and sharp chest pain while inhaling.

Empyema: In this condition, the pus gets accumulated in region between the lung and chest wall.

Collapsed Lung: It is characterised by the accumulation of air in the space between the pleural membranes. It is a fatal condition that can arrest the functioning of the lungs.

It occurs due to the infection from Streptococcus pneumonia or as a complication of invasive procedures used for the treatment of pleural effusion.

Abscesses in the brain/other organs: In some cases, the infection present in the lungs get spread to the heart and eventually reached to various organs of the body via bloodstream. In severe cases, it results in abscesses in the brain and other organs.

Severe Haemoptysis (Coughing up blood): It is a potentially fatal complication of pneumonia that is more commonly found in patients with associated lung problems like cystic fibrosis.

Other Complications of Pneumonia

The other complications of Pneumonia result from the spread of infection to the various parts of the body.

                    Secondary bacterial lung infection

                    Infections of the digestive system

                    Septicemia characterised by presence of bacteria in various body organs

                    Meningitis (swelling of the spinal cord covering)

                    Septic Arthritis (infection of a joint due to spread of bacteria via the bloodstream)

                    Endocarditis (infection of the heart muscle) 

                    Pericarditis (infection of the sac surrounding the heart)