Historically, the term double pneumonia was used for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
- Single (unilateral) pneumonia affects one lung wing.
- Triple pneumonia is double pneumonia that has healed but recurred.
Any type of pneumonia can affect both lungs. Bacterial pneumonia most often affects only a part of one lung, though. Pneumonia caused by Pseudomonas, or by Staphylococcus after flu is often bilateral .
Viral pneumonia is usually bilateral .
Legionnaires’ disease, which is atypical pneumonia caused by the bacterium Legionella, often appears as double pneumonia, especially when severe [2,3].
In Mycoplasma pneumonia (walking pneumonia)  and aspiration pneumonia , one or both lungs ca be involved .
Septic pneumonia as a result of blood poisoning usually affects both lungs.
Symptoms of pneumonia can include a cough with or without mucus, fever, shortness of breath and fatigue. In double pneumonia, symptoms may be more severe and may include bluish discoloration of the lips and fingers (cyanosis) because of lack of oxygen in the blood.
A doctor can make a diagnosis of pneumonia from the results of a laboratory test of sputum and from the presence of white patches on an X-ray image.
How serious is it?
In general, bilateral pneumonia is more serious than unilateral pneumonia, it leads to more complications (sepsis) and has greater death rate. Bilateral lobar pneumonia is usually more severe than bronchial pneumonia. This is especially true for bacterial pneumonia in which 2 or more lung lobes (multilobar pneumonia) or all lobes (panlobar pneumonia) in both lungs are severely affected.
On the other hand, scattered infiltrates in both lungs in viral or atypical pneumonia do not already mean severe disease. The denser the infiltrates appear on X-ray, the more severe the pneumonia is.
Pneumonia by itself is not contagious but microbes that cause it are. This means if you contract microbes from a person who has single or double pneumonia you may not develop any disease or possibly some milder disease, like the flu, and only sometimes pneumonia, especially if you have weak immunity.
Recovery and Prognosis
In general, double pneumonia has longer recovery time and worse prognosis than single pneumonia and it more often causes death. But again, the term double pneumonia by itself does not mean that the disease is very serious. Recovery time in severe pneumonia may be longer than 6 weeks .
Double Pneumonia in Elderly
Hypostatic pneumonia means the collection of fluid on the back side of both lungs in bedridden and elderly persons .
Lung conditions that may look similar to bilateral pneumonia:
- Pulmonary edema– collection of fluid on the bottom of both lungs
- Pneumoconiosis and silicosis
Treatment of double pneumonia is similar than treatment of single pneumonia. In severe cases, it needs to be treated in hospital with intravenous antibiotics, oxygen mask or mechanical ventilation.
- Hypostatic pneumonia Merriam-Webster
- Cunha BA, Legionnaires’ disease, workup Emedicine
- Amanullah S, Atypical bacterial pneumonia imaging Emedicine
- Bono MJ, Mycoplasmal pneumonia, workup Emedicine
- Viral pneumonia, overview Emedicine
- Amanullah S, Typical bacterial pneumonia imaging Emedicine
- Zuger A, 2001, How Long Does Pneumonia Take to Go Away? NEJM Journal Watch
- Swaminathan A, Aspiration pneumonitis and pneumonia Emedicine