British Lung Foundation
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Bad episode of Pneumonia, and now I am wondering if I will ever be the same again. Is there any way to find out if I have permanent damage?

I am a 47 year old male non smoker. I went to hospital having trouble breathing, and was diagnosed as having bacterial bilateral pneumonia. My blood oxygen kept dropping and I was put on a ventilator for two nights. The first night I was on maximum peep at 100% oxygen. I was in intensive care for 11 nights, and spent another 5 nights on a respiratory ward.

I also picked up a secondary bacterial lung infection while on the ventilator (a super bug). About two weeks later after leaving hospital I suffered bilateral Pneumothorax as well as a burst lung and my lungs had to be inflated in hospital. I returned to work 9 weeks after leaving hospital, and about 6 weeks after my lungs collapsed.

I have been back at work for almost two weeks and I suffer a lot of chest pain and feel very tired, like I am a clock winding down. I have trouble concentrating and my vision is blurred sometimes. I feel odd sensations like I am about to faint from time to time.

When will things resolve? I am slower than I used to be and tire very easily. Everything is difficult and I just want to sleep and I ache and have pain all the time.

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20 Replies

I am sorry to hear about your illness and that you are not feeling right yet. I have never had pneumonia but I think the recovery process can be quite long so maybe you need a bit more time off work. It is possible you have a bit of scarring on your lungs but I wouldn;'t worry too much about that. My advice is to go back to your doctor and ask him/her. We are not medically qualified here and and your gp is the one you need to speak to. You might need a chest x-ray. Good luck with it.

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Hi there milleniumtoday goodness me havnt you been through the mill you poor thing.Im wondering if youve recovered enough for work just yet,you have been proper poorly and this takes time to heal and for you to build yourself back up.Or maybe can you do part time for a little while ease you in more gently.As coughalot says a trip to the doc and explain exactly how you feel.Please take care of yourself seek some pro advice. Keepin touch and let us know how things go. :) Janexx

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Welcome to this forum .

You sound to have had not just 1 but 3 serious illnesses . I've not had pneumonia ( well not since age of five ) but have read many posts on here where people say it takes a long, long time to feel totally right.

I did however once return to work too early after fairly major surgery when i was in my thirties. I think your mind tells you that you are ready and you want to get on with life. However the reality is somewhat different. You have used up much of your reserves fighting infections and the trauma of the lung collapse that the rest of your recovery could take longer.

It is very good advice from the previous posters about going back to see your g.p . Maybe they could check that you are totally clear of all infection

Best of luck. Cheers Coastal

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With regards to knowing if there has been permanent damage that may be one to ask hospital specialist if and when you have a follow up appointment.Perhaps request an x ray . However many people on this site and elsewhere have made a total recovery from similar experiences.Hopefully they will be along soon to offer advice.

Cheers Coastal.

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After pneumonia I had a 'phased return to work' which meant I worked a few hours to start and gradually built up to full time again. It takes months to get over pneumonia - till you feel like your old self, I mean. Doing too much too soon just means it'll take longer to get to full capacity. Maybe you could ease up on your working hours for a few more weeks till you get more of your strength back?


Hi, I too had bacterial pneumonia in both lungs when I was 47, but I didn't have the other problems that you had. I went back to work too early, while I still had chest pain. Unfortunately the hospital did not tell me that I had had pneumonia at the time, I was only told later. This was 20years ago, and things were different then. So I struggled on not knowing what was wrong. So please go back to your gp and tell him your symptoms.


Oh gosh that sounds a very traumatic period. I am sorry but I have no experience with pneumonia - I would suggest you ring the BLF helpline (click on the red balloon in the corner) and they might be able to give some accurate medical advise. Good Luck and wishing you a speedy recovery TAD xxx


That sounds dreadful, no wonder you are worried. Whilst in hospital did you have a ct scan?

I had pneumonia 5 times in 18-20 months and it does totally knock you for six. I felt like a weak invalid for many weeks afterwards - but I had nothing as badly as you have.

I had the pneumonia jab 3 years ago and not had it since. Chronic chest infections but not the pneumonia.

I could not rest until I'd had a ct scan (many X-rays showed clear). I was greatly relieved to be shown the ct scans, the damage is minimal and the lovely registrars words were "a beautiful pair of lungs" so there is hope for yours too my friend.

You must take care of yourself, pace yourself and above all take action in rebuilding your immune system.

You must go back to your GP ASAP to have a check up in case the infection has come back, or possibly a new one. You will be very vulnerable to bugs so take precautions, get to work on that immune system. Good luck, Peeg

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Agree - back to GP or telephone consultant's sec. Wonder too did you have a ct scan. Let us know how you get on.

love cx


hi milenuimtoday, really sorry youve been through so much, i had pneumonia and left collapsed lung in june past, i had much the same treatment as yourself. i can imagine well what you went through, and feel for you so much,,,. unfortunately, and to be perfectly honest, i have to say, i havent been the same since, that may sound very blunt, ,,, now in saying that,,, im an oap and have severe copd,with underlying illnesses you are a lot younger,a non smoker,and because of this i believe you will over come this given time, i know that i tried to do too much too early, i would say, do what your body tells you to do, even if it means staying off work [your health is more important] but you MUST have a word with your g.p about your concerns,, catching that second infection has not helped, but i believe that given time,and hopefully getting better "healing" weather soon,your age , being a non smoker,,,,,,you will make a great recovery,please remember, many people have made a perfect recovery, i certainly hope you do,,, all the very best,,,,kindest regards,,jimmy


Nice to see you again, Jimmy. x


Lovely reply Jimmy. Lovely to see you and hope you're on the mend xxx

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Agree with all advice . Im recovering from really bad lung infec ive been off work since 9th dec and wont go back till after easter on phased return. I had pneumonia when i was 27 and it took me a year to fully recover so you need to pace yourself and look after your health xx take care

You have certainly been throughthe mill and have probably returned to work too soon, but much depends on what kind of work you do and how you are coping with it. My GP used to insist on signing me off, no arguement, as he knew I was always keen to get back to work.

Having said that you have chest pains, tiredness, trouble concentrating and blurred vision so I would recommend you see your GP and discuss these symptoms. You may need a blood test to check your o2 etc levels.

Thank you everyone for your replies.

I had a cross sectional CAT scan on Tuesday and I am seeing my GP for a complete psychical and to get the pneumonia vaccine on Saturday. I will also hear the results of the CAT scan then.

Sadly I had no choice but to return to work. After twelve weeks out sick, there was no chance of making the next mortgage payment unless I went back to work. I have a two year old son and need to make sure he has a roof over his head.

Another reason for going back to work is life insurance. I do not hold any life insurance other than what I have through the company I work for, and I was on special leave, which would have invalidated any claim as I need to make payments through payroll. this way, if things get worse, my life insurance should make sure the mortgage is paid still.

I currently work as a programmer. I work between 12-14 hours a day weekdays, but only work about 4 hours a day at the weekend. The long hours at the terminal are not a problem, but the walk to work is about a mile and a half each way and his is tough after a long day.

I'm not that up to date with current employment law but don't your current hours of work exceed the maximum that people are supposed to work.? I realise you are in a very difficult situation and wish you all the best at your medical tomorrow.

Cheers Coastal

Sort of. But I have a choice. slow down and get fired. But perhaps the sun may come up soon. Next week I have an interview at a company who only want 9-5 Monday to Friday. If I could land that, I would be a lot better off.

Hi there again milleniumtoday Im really hoping you land this new job so it takes some of the pressure off you,such a shame bliddy money.What were your scan results hope it was encouraging,Please rest when you can.Keep in touch :) Janexx

Hi again, hopefully shorter hours would take some of the pressure off you. I was wondering if you had contacted your mortgage provider about your situation to see if a payment could be deferred, do you have any family who could help? Good luck and take care

Hi, milleniumtoday. I think (personal non expert opinion!) that you can recover completely from pneumonia. I've heard a doctor who had a collapsed lung (pneumothorax) and was teaching about it, showing photos of his own chest!

It's other diseases like bronchiectasis, emphysema which damage the lungs in a more permanent way.

But, although I have damaged lungs due to bronchiectasis, it doesn't prevent me from going on, more slowly, especially walking, but going on with determination. This is a factor fro progress, determination.

Do exercises, don't smoke and manage yourself with reasonable care, eating well, sleeping well and adapting to whatever is thrown at you! Take care.

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