Pneumonia can be a mild illness or it can be something much more serious. Quite often, people with pneumonia have previously had cold or flu symptoms for a few days or weeks that have got worse, not better.
The most common symptoms of pneumonia are:
- cough — can be dry or may produce thick mucus
- fevers (usually above 38.5°C), sweating and shivering — though in older people it can cause lower than normal body temperature
- difficulty breathing, or rapid breathing (especially in young children) or shortness of breath
- feeling generally tired and unwell
- loss of appetite
People with pneumonia may also:
- have a headache
- have pain in the chest that is worse with breathing
- cough up blood
- feel nauseous and maybe even vomit
- ache all over
- be confused or disorientated (especially in older people)
- have a blue colour around the mouth (cyanosis), due to by lack of oxygen in more serious cases
Even after the pneumonia has been treated successfully, the cough may last for several weeks. If you suspect that you or someone in your care may have pneumonia, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. If the person affected has trouble breathing, they should go to the nearest Emergency Department.
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Last reviewed: September 2018