Pneumonia Complications that Impact Seniors

Pay Attention to These Factors

Nick Rosen, MD
Medically reviewed by Nick Rosen, MDFebruary 1st, 2022
Older adults wearing surgical mask and coughing into hand

People of any age can contract pneumonia, an infection where the tiny air sacs in the lungs (alveoli) become inflamed. However, pneumonia can be more serious in certain groups of people such as older adults. Not only can increased age cause someone to experience more severe pneumonia symptoms, but it can also lead to potential complications, which are secondary diseases or conditions aggravating an already existing one. Therefore, it’s especially important for people who are 65 or older to promptly receive a proper diagnosis and treatment for pneumonia. Here are some examples of pneumonia complications that can impact seniors:

Bacteremia & Sepsis

Pneumonia can be caused by different types of germs including bacteria. In fact, bacteria are one of the most common causes of pneumonia in adults. If this bacteria leaves the lungs and enters the bloodstream, it is known as bacteremia. And your body’s own response to the infection can lead to sepsis and organ failure.

Lung Abscess

Pneumonia may cause pus to collect in the cavity of the lungs, creating an abscess. A lung abscess can be life-threatening, especially for older adults. Treatment options include antibiotics, or in more severe cases, a needle or tube can be inserted into the lungs to drain pus from the abscess.

Pleural Effusion

In addition to pus, fluid can also fill the lungs as a result of pneumonia. When fluid builds up in the thin space between layers of tissue that line the lungs and chest cavity (pleura), it is known as pleural effusion. If the fluid causes an infection, it may need to be drained through a chest tube or removed with surgery.

Respiratory Failure

Patients who have underlying respiratory conditions like COPD are especially vulnerable to complications of pneumonia. The inflammation from pneumonia can limit airflow and cause further damage to the lungs. If the lungs can’t function properly and exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen, respiratory failure can occur.

DispatchHealth Comes to You For Pneumonia Treatment

To prevent any of these or other complications from developing, it’s important to receive prompt pneumonia treatment. More severe symptoms like trouble breathing and persistent pain or pressure in the chest should be addressed by calling 911 or going to the emergency room. However, mild to moderate pneumonia symptoms can be treated in the comfort of your own home by DispatchHealth.

We make it easy to receive the right care by offering comprehensive in-home testing and treatment for pneumonia. Many people dread leaving the house when they’re sick, and going to a doctor’s office or urgent care clinic can be especially difficult for seniors and individuals with a compromised immune system. We can send a detailed report to a patient’s primary care physician after the visit and call in any necessary prescriptions.

Don’t leave pneumonia undiagnosed and untreated. Schedule an appointment easily with DispatchHealth through our website or over the phone.

For life-threatening and time-sensitive injuries and illnesses, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. DispatchHealth shouldn’t be used in a life-threatening emergency and doesn’t replace a primary care provider.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:


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