Welcome to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler! Please read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write

Results 1 to 16 of 16

Thread: How long does it take to develop pneumonia?

  1. #1

    How long does it take to develop pneumonia?

    I have a character who has chronically weak health. I need him to come down with pneumonia. He pushes himself, ignores his heath, so he's going to end up passing out at some point. Anyway I'm wondering if this timeline is too fast:

    Monday - He is exposed to a sick person (flu or cold or something)
    Tuesday/Wednesday - Develops symptoms of the sickness, insists he is okay. May also have a severe urinary tract infection.
    Friday - Passes out and taken to the hospital, treated for pneumonia.

    Plausible? Or would it take longer than that? I'm thinking the UTI would help speed things along, and let's also say he's not really taking care of himself in terms of eating right, drinking fluids, etc.
    Last edited by JoNightshade; 04-21-2008 at 04:37 AM.
    Goodreads - Twitter - Website - Facebook

    Courting Greta has been released into the wide world!
    I have also entered the world of self-pubbing with a short story, Christmas in the Californios, 1833.

  2. #2
    Ooo! Shiny new cover! Absolute Sage Cathy C's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Hiding in my writing cave
    Posts
    9,744
    Depends. You can either have him get viral or bacterial pneumonia.

    A person can catch a cold, which turns to bronchitis and then worsens into viral pneumonia after the immune system weakens. That takes a while. Probably 5-7 days of feeling progressivly miserable.

    Or, you can catch a particularly nasty case of bacterial pneumonia as its own illness. I've had that and it nailed me to the point of near hospital stay (with no prior symptoms) after about three days from what I suspect was the source.

    Does that help?
    Want FREE reads? Click here!

    Smiles!
    Cathy Clamp
    USA Today bestselling author
    FORBIDDEN, coming 8/15!
    My Website
    Follow me: Twitter
    Now on Facebook! Come friend me!



    "An entertaining (and occasionally very dark) mystery." -- Locus

    "[Shapeshifter] fans are about to hit the jackpot as Clamp returns to re-energize this amazing series. Searching for layered plotlines and complex characters? Look no further, as Clamp truly delivers!" -- RT BookReviews

    "Cathy Clamp is a visionary author, creating new worlds that are both strong and vividly drawn. Adventure and excitement at its best." -- Yasmine Galenorn, New York Times Bestselling Author

    "A struggling community under attack, compelling action, characters struggling with dark secrets ... FORBIDDEN hit all my favorite notes, and I love the rich world of the Sazi!" - Rachel Caine, New York Times Bestselling Author

  3. #3
    I've seen worse. SuperModerator ColoradoGuy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    The City Different
    Posts
    6,370
    I agree with Cathy -- anything from 24 hours to a week is possible, depending upon the cause. There is also a fair amount of variability from person to person with the same cause, so you've got a lot of lattitude for your plot needs.
    "Think this through with me, let me know your mind.
    . . . what I want to know is, are you kind?"

    My books, website, and blog

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Cathy C View Post
    Depends. You can either have him get viral or bacterial pneumonia.

    A person can catch a cold, which turns to bronchitis and then worsens into viral pneumonia after the immune system weakens. That takes a while. Probably 5-7 days of feeling progressivly miserable.

    Or, you can catch a particularly nasty case of bacterial pneumonia as its own illness. I've had that and it nailed me to the point of near hospital stay (with no prior symptoms) after about three days from what I suspect was the source.

    Does that help?
    Indeed it does! I think I need the person he catches it from to be sick from a minor cold, so I guess number one is my best option. In which case my timeline has to be longer.

    But... could you tell me what your experience with bacterial pneumonia was like? Symptoms, etc?
    Goodreads - Twitter - Website - Facebook

    Courting Greta has been released into the wide world!
    I have also entered the world of self-pubbing with a short story, Christmas in the Californios, 1833.

  5. #5
    I've seen worse. SuperModerator ColoradoGuy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    The City Different
    Posts
    6,370
    Quote Originally Posted by JoNightshade View Post
    Indeed it does! I think I need the person he catches it from to be sick from a minor cold, so I guess number one is my best option. In which case my timeline has to be longer.

    But... could you tell me what your experience with bacterial pneumonia was like? Symptoms, etc?
    Most bacterial pneumonia isn't actually contagious as one would usually think of it--the standard organisms that cause it are normal inhabitants of the respiratory tract which, for unclear reasons (sometimes following a viral illness) invade the the lower respiratory tract, the lungs. So you don't exactly "catch" the most common forms of bacterial pneumonia from another person.

    ETA: Typical symptoms: high fever, shaking chills, rapid breathing, chest pain (pleurisy), productive cough. If it gets bad the person can need oxygen or even a mechanical ventilator machine.
    "Think this through with me, let me know your mind.
    . . . what I want to know is, are you kind?"

    My books, website, and blog

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by ColoradoGuy View Post
    Most bacterial pneumonia isn't actually contagious as one would usually think of it--the standard organisms that cause it are normal inhabitants of the respiratory tract which, for unclear reasons (sometimes following a viral illness) invade the the lower respiratory tract, the lungs. So you don't exactly "catch" the most common forms of bacterial pneumonia from another person.

    ETA: Typical symptoms: high fever, shaking chills, rapid breathing, chest pain (pleurisy), productive cough. If it gets bad the person can need oxygen or even a mechanical ventilator machine.
    Sooooo does that mean character #2 could have a normal cold or flu, character #1 catches that and immediately develops bacterial pneumonia? Or would there still be a lag time?

    ETA: I should add, character #1 is very, very stressed out. Which lowers immune response, right?
    Last edited by JoNightshade; 04-21-2008 at 04:49 AM.
    Goodreads - Twitter - Website - Facebook

    Courting Greta has been released into the wide world!
    I have also entered the world of self-pubbing with a short story, Christmas in the Californios, 1833.

  7. #7
    I've seen worse. SuperModerator ColoradoGuy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    The City Different
    Posts
    6,370
    Quote Originally Posted by JoNightshade View Post
    Sooooo does that mean character #2 could have a normal cold or flu, character #1 catches that and immediately develops bacterial pneumonia? Or would there still be a lag time?
    Figure an incubation time for the viral infection of 3-5 days (person #1 to person #2), then another couple of days before #2 gets the early signs of bacterial pneumonia (likely fever, malaise, and increasing respiratory rate), moving on to full-blown, horrible bacterial pneumonia (very short of breath, pleuritic chest pain, bad cough) about a day after that.
    "Think this through with me, let me know your mind.
    . . . what I want to know is, are you kind?"

    My books, website, and blog

  8. #8
    Hmmmmm, okay. Thanks!
    Goodreads - Twitter - Website - Facebook

    Courting Greta has been released into the wide world!
    I have also entered the world of self-pubbing with a short story, Christmas in the Californios, 1833.

  9. #9
    poll dancer samgail's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    giving lap dances at the BCS
    Posts
    770
    My son had a bacterial strain and the only symptoms were a stomach ache and fever. He was in school so we have no way of knowing when he was exposed. He was fine when i sent him to school in the AM but by the afternoon he was so sick they admitted him and called in a surgeon consult. They assumed it was appendicitis. They did a chest xray after they discovered he had zero tenderness in his abdomen. He was there for 6 days. Hope this helps.
    Red hair is caused by sugar and lust
    Still Life With Woodpecker

  10. #10
    Down Under Fan HeronW's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Rishon Lezion, Israel
    Posts
    6,399
    The person's state of health is a factor too: malnourished, shot-to-hell immune system, smoker, weak lungs can all bring on problems quicker than someone who's eaten properly, doesn't smoke, good immune system, etc.
    Sometimes the only thing between the lines is empty space--except for here: http://heronw.blogspot.com/

  11. #11
    ever seeking GeorgeK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    5,759
    Quote Originally Posted by JoNightshade View Post
    ...this timeline is too fast:

    Monday - He is exposed to a sick person (flu or cold or something)
    Tuesday/Wednesday - Develops symptoms of the sickness, insists he is okay. May also have a severe urinary tract infection.
    Friday - Passes out and taken to the hospital, treated for pneumonia.

    Plausible? Or would it take longer than that? I'm thinking the UTI would help speed things along, and let's also say he's not really taking care of himself in terms of eating right, drinking fluids, etc.

    The incubation time is the length of time it takes the bug to replicate to high enough numbers to overload the immune system and start symptoms. The incubation times for common Respiratory diseases range from approximately 3 days to 3 weeks. The normal incubation times are not significantly shortened unless the patient is severely immunosuppressed or starving like Heron said, or if the contagion load is significantly increased. Unless the 1st sick person hocked a luggee into the throat of the MC who then inhaled it directly into the lungs, or if you are dealing with something exotic like ebola, then yes this is too fast.

    However, during flu season people have often blamed family or friends for this exact thing when in fact the person was already infected and simply nonsymptomatic (during the incubation period) and by a cooincidence of timing happened to develop symptoms the following day. That could even be a plot twist if you want where the MC blames the other character only to find out later it was just bad luck.

    As far as the UTI goes, generally those are bacterial whereas the Resp infections are usually Viral. That doesn't mean they don't happen during the same convalescence or incubation period. It's actually not all that uncommon. When you are already sick, your resisance is down. The patients normally don't know that they are taking antibiotics for the UTI and simply resting for the Respiratory infection. On the unfortunate times that bacterial infections start jumping to other organs, that's when they are septic or septicemic depending upon where one trained, and prone to further problems like heart attacks, mutisystem organ failure etc. Sepsis pretty much means a hospitalization, probably in the ICU, maybe a surgery to drain pus. Once in a while a young healthy person might be manageable with a multicourse of antibiotics on an out patient basis.

    When you are septic, you don't care. You don't care if there's a rat in the corner of the room. You don't care that the dishes haven't been washed in a week you don't care if you pee in the bed. Death feels preferable to living. Sepsis usually has a 3-6 month recovery period even though the antibiotics may only be 1-2 weeks. The people feel as if a truck has backed over them, lots of aches, feeling tired and weak, short of breath. It is definitely the opposite of a fun time. For just the respiratory infection, ColoradoGuy had a nice list of symptoms


    So the short answer is it's too fast, the long answer is that it is possible, but for different reasons than you probably suspected.
    Last edited by GeorgeK; 04-21-2008 at 08:28 PM.

  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW Mike Martyn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    432
    In my case, I developed pneumonia after being sick with the flu for a couple of weeks. I had a bad cough, an awful headache and I hadn't eaten or slept much in those two weeks so I suppose my immune system was down.

    Around day ten of the flu I felt a bit delusional and heard strange creaking noises inside my lungs which I took to be a team of tiny builders doing I know not what.

    I ran out of aspirin and so I drove to a nearby mall where, as luck would have it, there was a walk in clinic. So in I walked looking for a perscription for something stronger than aspirin.

    The doctor checked me out diagnosed a "mild" case of pneumonia which could be cured by bed rest and some antibitics. To be on the safe side though, she sent me to the hopital for an x-ray and said she'd call me with the results.

    Later that day the door bell rang and there stood the doctor. She told me that I had one lung collapsed and the other on the way. She drove me to the hospital saying I shouldn't be driving in my condition. Actually, my head ache had abated by that point and I felt pretty good and not really short of breathe which is surprising.

    I lay in emergency for what seemed a long time. I remember thinking, "I'm dying. Hey it's not so bad. Anyone can do it."

    I was in the hospital with bacterial and viral pneumonia for ten days. About day three I hit some sort of crisis point and I remember the resperoligist telling me that I was "going to make it". To tell you the truth, at that point, I was so low I didn't give a shit one way or the other.

    When I got out I'd lost about 35 pounds and was down to 140. I'm 6 ft 2 so you can imagine what a shambling bone rack I was.

    For me that was the most shocking part of the experience since back then, I was a 2nd degree black belt heavily into full contact tournament fighting.

    I convalesed for a month and a half of bed rest but it was easily six months before my strength was back.

  13. #13
    . Pup's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    371
    Quote Originally Posted by JoNightshade View Post
    I have a character who has chronically weak health. I need him to come down with pneumonia. He pushes himself, ignores his heath, so he's going to end up passing out at some point. Anyway I'm wondering if this timeline is too fast:

    Monday - He is exposed to a sick person (flu or cold or something)
    Tuesday/Wednesday - Develops symptoms of the sickness, insists he is okay. May also have a severe urinary tract infection.
    Friday - Passes out and taken to the hospital, treated for pneumonia.
    Here's my timeline for the one and only time I had pneumonia--very similar to what you describe.

    Started out Thursday with mild bronchitis (similar to your character with chronically weak health, though I was/am normally healthy).

    Friday - developed a bad sore throat, which was the first sign that I'd caught a cold in addition to the bronchitis. Yuck.

    Saturday through Monday - in a prison cell, cold temperatures, not much food, not much exercise (I think deep breathing would have helped), went through my normal cycle for a cold, from sore throat to stopped up nose.

    Monday - home, felt exhausted but could get around, symptoms of the cold were gone except for a bad cough

    Tuesday - suddenly felt much more exhausted, chills and fever, obviously very sick, had to spend most of my time in bed, no appetite, bad cough

    Friday - no better so finally went to the doctor, diagnosed with double pneumonia, got antibiotics, within a week was almost well except for a continuing cough, within about three or four weeks was good as new.

    The doctor told my wife that I probably hadn't caught the pneumonia from anyone, so she didn't have to worry about catching it from me. What I had done was catch a cold on top of the bronchitis, and then stressed my health, and all that together caused me to develop pneumonia.

  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    527
    I have asthma and weird immune issues.

    For me to develop pneumonia from a cold takes about 3-5 days. It's pretty quick from the first sniffle. If the doc puts me on prophylactic prednisone and antiobiotics, I'm fine. Otherwise, I tend to be out of commission for weeks. For what it's worth.

    And pneumonia hurts. You KNOW you're sick, as others have indicated.

    -- Leva

  15. #15
    minion kullervo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Princeville, Kauai
    Posts
    941
    I remember the pain as being unique. I felt I was being crushed by some weight. Not fun. I have also had pleurisy (a separate illness-- an infection of the lining between the lung and the chest cavity). That one hurt, too-- a scraping pain whenever you breathe.

  16. #16
    practical experience, FTW Tsu Dho Nimh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    West Enchilada, AZ
    Posts
    1,340
    Quote Originally Posted by JoNightshade View Post
    I have a character who has chronically weak health. I need him to come down with pneumonia. He pushes himself, ignores his heath, so he's going to end up passing out at some point. Anyway I'm wondering if this timeline is too fast:

    Monday - He is exposed to a sick person (flu or cold or something)
    Tuesday/Wednesday - Develops symptoms of the sickness, insists he is okay. May also have a severe urinary tract infection.
    Friday - Passes out and taken to the hospital, treated for pneumonia.

    Plausible? Or would it take longer than that? I'm thinking the UTI would help speed things along, and let's also say he's not really taking care of himself in terms of eating right, drinking fluids, etc.
    It can take a few hours from symptoms to death's door or some organisms (Hanta virus ) to a couple of weeks for others.

    And he could be healthy Wednesday and in ICU by Friday ... where and when does the plot take place and I can give you a disease to knock him over with, and tell you how long ago he had ot have been exposed.

    Heck: give him MEASLES! 2-week incubation period, starts out like a cold, and a select few end up in the hospital within a few days with pneumonia.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Custom Search