What Happens If Pneumonia Is Left Untreated?

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If bacterial pneumonia is not treated, the bacteria can enter the circulatory system, causing a widespread infection called sepsis. Viral pneumonia usually goes away on its own, but antiviral drugs are available to treat the infection.

Experts from the Mayo Clinic say pneumonia is one of the most likely causes of sepsis. Sepsis causes signs and symptoms such as a respiratory rate greater than 20 breaths per minute; a fever below 95 F or above 101.3 F; and a heart rate greater than 90 beats per minute.

Someone with untreated bacterial pneumonia can also spread the disease to others. Doctors treat bacterial pneumonia with antibiotics to kill the bacteria. The type of antibiotic prescribed depends on the type of bacteria causing the infection.