Why Pneumonia Is Dangerous for Diabetics

Pneumonia is nothing to ignore.


Summer will soon wind to a close, bringing with it an onslaught of golden-red leaves, cooler temperatures, and impaired immunity. As seasons change, immune responses fail to react as quickly and effectively as normal. This brings about a steady march of colds, the flu, and other bugs, including pneumonia.

In a healthy individual, pneumonia is not usually a matter of concern. Although it may be irritating and set you back for a couple of weeks, it is not typically a dangerous condition. Paired with diabetes, however, pneumonia has the potential to wreak havoc on your body.

Pneumonia: A Brief Overview

Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs, which can cause a host of symptoms, including difficulty breathing, coughing, fever, chills, chest pain, and nausea. In an infected patient, the normally clear sacs of the lungs are filled with fluid. The condition has both a viral and bacterial origin, with viral pneumonia typically carrying fewer symptoms and clearing up more quickly than a bacterial infection.

A consistent bout of pneumonia can occur with both viral and bacterial infections, which is typically called “walking” pneumonia. The illness can be contracted via work or school, or can be caught in a medical setting.

Pneumonia and Diabetes

Why does the fusion of these two conditions not bode so well? In short, the lungs of a
diabetic person are not as readily able to fend off attacks. Because the immune system of someone with diabetes is essentially always under attack from the body itself and the blood sugar imbalances lend themselves to a poor immune response and increased inflammation, having diabetes puts you at greater risk for developing complications with pneumonia.

One study found that the mortality rate of pneumonia patients was raised by 4-7% if you had diabetes, and even more so if your blood sugar was consistently high. The study found that blood glucose levels could actually predict the level of disease found in the diabetes patients. Patients with high sugar were less likely to recover from illness at all.

Avoiding Illness

Having diabetes is not a death sentence if you contract pneumonia. The possibility of serious complications or injury is significantly higher, however, so making sure your body is well taken care of and at its optimal level of health is essential.

To make sure your body is functioning properly, pay close attention to your glucose levels and adjust your diet accordingly. If you adore sweets and can’t imagine giving up your daily slice of pie, try to find lower-calorie, lower-sugar versions of the pie. If you love creamy milk chocolate, attempt to sate your sweet tooth with a square of rich dark chocolate. Making simple changes to your dietary habits can reap big rewards, including swift healing from pneumonia.


ADA. Accessed 8/4/17.

Medical News. 8/4/17.