Mortality rate for pneumonia

I had bacterial pneumonia at the age of 21 and I have to say it was the most physical suffering I’ve endured in my entire life. I was more or less bed ridden for three weeks, sick for 4 months total and lost 10 pounds, breathing and swallowing were painful, I was oxygen deprived to the point of being delirious and perhaps worst of all that awful musky smell and taste in my mouth that would not go away. A lot of people think of pneumonia as being no big deal, but truly I felt like I was dying and if my brother didn’t beg me to see the doctor I think I probably would have eventually suffocated as I was still hoping it would resolve on its own.

Are there any stats for what the mortality rate for a young otherwise healthy adult dying from pneumonia is? I know it often kills cancer/AIDS patients, old people and little kids but I haven’t heard of how commonly it kills young adults and middle aged people.

The mortality rate for pneumonia seems to be around 1%, which isn’t much. If you have to be taken into hospital, then the mortality rate more than triples to 3,4%.

So yeah, unless you belong to a specific risk group, pneumonia is not too deadly. Although I remember when my mother got it a couple of years ago, she was also in excruciating pain. Looking back at those two weeks, I can’t help but wonder how close she was to being part of that 1%.

“Pneumonia” is a loose term typically referring to an infection in the lower part of the lung versus the upper airways.

We usually don’t diagnosis it with certainty until there is some evidence that enough inflammatory debris has collected in the alveoli (air sacs) to produce consolidation (changes suggesting the air sacs are filled with something solid such as fluid and pus cells) on an XRay.

However in common clinical practice the diagnosis is often made casually based on patient presentation, and confirmatory diagnostic imaging to prove consolidation or damage in the lower respiratory tract is frequently not done.

Moreover, it’s very common in practice to treat a “pneumonia” empirically, without identification of the the pathogen. There is a marked difference in severity of illness depending on the particular organism, and those organisms in turn frequently reflect an underlying host deficiency.

For these reasons, an overall mortality rate for “pneumonia” would be meaningless in clinical medicine.

For what it’s worth, the typical illness diagnosed as “community-acquired pneumonia” in a healthy host has a very very low mortality rate. If one begins adding modifiers such as “bacterial,” or “lobar consolidation,” or “sepsis,” or “hospitalized,” and so on, the mortality rate begins to rise because those and many other terms suggest a more serious presentation.

If you just take all comers, the presentation and manifestations are protean, and it’s not very useful to talk about an overall “mortality rate.”

There are a number of indices to predict mortality from pneumonia. One of the first to be derived is the Pneumonia Severity Index (PORT score). The link is to a PORT score calculator and you’ll see that plugging in 21 years for age and male sex, but no other risk factors, yields a mortality risk of 0.1 to 0.4 percent.

By means of contrast, if someone has most of the risk factors, the likelihood of death resulting from pneumonia is around 30 percent.

Since it is also known as the “Old man’s friend”, I guess that at some point the mortality rate must be rather high.

That’s actually pretty high when you think about it. I mean the chance of dying from having a C-section (a major surgery) in an American hospital is something like 1 in 12,000. 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 100 is high enough it’s something you may need to worry about.

Yes, but note that many many clinical presentations get casually diagnosed by physicians as “pneumonia” and would not fit into that category measured by a PORT score.

The problem with any medical data is that on the front end of formal studies you have formal criteria so that we actually know what we are measuring. In clinical practice the diagnosis is made much more casually.

For a typical healthy young male seeing his primary physician and walking out of the office with a “clinical” diagnosis of “pneumonia” along with an oral antibiotic, the mortality rate is not 1 in a 1000. What they are trying to tell you is that the risk is low enough to treat that patient empirically, and as such confirmatory studies such as a chest xray are often not even undertaken for a straightforward symptom/sign complex that ends up with a presumptive diagnosis of pneumonia.

Hmmmm, well I had an Xray and was really very close to being hospitalized. And when I went to the clinic I looked so bad they put me in front of everyone else in line! :eek:

I had pneumonia twice many years ago and i can relate to your concerns about mortality stats.
I was also a grave digger when in my late teens and when we reviewed the Cemetery log book (if you will) the cause of death was listed or there might have been some unknowns but the overwhelming majority of death cause was Pneumonia!
But then again that might have been like the old Fire Marshal looking at a burned building and saying Electrical!
I say that because an old fire Marshal friend told of saying that once to many times and that time there was no electricity. :stuck_out_tongue: