Pneumonia Symptoms – What You Should Know
Pneumonia symptoms can vary from person to person, but here are the most common signs of pneumonia that you should be aware of. If you think you or someone else has pneumonia, take them to the doctor as soon as possible and make sure you’re aware of all the symptoms of pneumonia.
What Is Pneumonia?
When one or both of your lungs is infected, that’s pneumonia. This inflammation causes fluid to build up, making it difficult for you to breathe. Pneumonia occurs when germs (usually bacteria) get into your lungs and cause infections. Depending on what type of pneumonia you have, symptoms can include a cough with phlegm, fever and/or chills, shortness of breath or rapid breathing (tachypnea), fatigue and poor appetite. In some cases, blood may be present in your sputum. About pneumonia is the most common cause of viral infection; bacterial infections are less common but more severe. In either case, treatment will include antibiotics to prevent complications from developing, including bronchitis and pleurisy if left untreated.
How To Prevent
There is no specific way to prevent pneumonia. However, it’s important to be aware of which factors put you at risk for developing pneumonia. Smoking, for example, dramatically increases your chance of getting pneumonia. Other risk factors include lung disease (like COPD or asthma), heart disease and immunosuppression from diabetes or HIV/AIDS. As a general rule, if you have a chronic health condition that puts you at risk for other illnesses, it also increases your odds of getting pneumonia.
This is a symptom of pneumonia in both adults and children. For children, it can happen at any age, but for adults it usually happens after age 40. The pain usually starts as shortness of breath, then turns into chest pain that worsens when you breathe deeply or cough. It’s different from a regular chest cold because it does not get better with rest or over-the-counter medications; instead, it gets worse or continues to linger. It can also be a symptom of heart failure so if you experience pain in your lungs alongside shortness of breath and fatigue, see your doctor immediately. (9)
Shortness of Breath
When you have pneumonia, it can cause your lungs to fill with fluid. It constricts your throat and hinders your breathing. Shortness of breath may be one of your first symptoms, and is one of its most common ones. Pneumonia often comes on suddenly or with a sudden onset, so if you’re feeling short of breath, make sure to see a doctor right away.
Cough, Fever and Sweats
Coughing is one of your body’s methods of expelling bacteria or other foreign objects that have been inhaled, so coughing is not a symptom of pneumonia in itself. However, if you have a fever and sweats along with that cough, it could be due to bacterial pneumonia. The Mayo Clinic recommends calling your doctor if you develop a sudden onset of fever along with dry cough for two or more days; chest pain and difficulty breathing; hoarseness; fatigue; loss of appetite; or confusion. These symptoms could mean you need immediate medical attention. If you suspect you might have come down with pneumonia—or another lung infection—visit your doctor as soon as possible.
Loss of Appetite and Nausea
Not only is unexplained weight loss a red flag for pneumonia, but it could also be a sign of cancer. For example, one symptom of lung cancer is coughing up blood (known as hemoptysis). It’s not uncommon for people with lung cancer to experience episodes of unexplained weight loss before their tumors are discovered. Losing weight quickly (more than 1/2 to 1 pound per week) is especially alarming and could be an indication that you should see your doctor right away. Your doctor may recommend tests like a chest X-ray or CT scan to help confirm whether you have pneumonia or another health issue.
General Weakness and Fatigue
Pneumonia is a lung infection that can cause you to feel extremely weak and fatigued. Pneumonia is often confused with flu, which causes similar symptoms, but they are not exactly alike. A fever and general fatigue caused by pneumonia won’t necessarily subside after a night of rest. Other symptoms include cough, chest pain and trouble breathing. If you experience these symptoms along with a high fever, chills or a rapid heartbeat you should see your doctor immediately as you may have contracted pneumonia. By getting prompt treatment your chances of recovery will be greater than if left untreated. It’s best to seek treatment sooner rather than later so any complications can be resolved as quickly as possible.
Unexplained Weight Loss
The most common symptom of pneumonia is sudden and unexplained weight loss. Your loved one may start losing weight for no apparent reason, or with very little effort. This will often make them tired and lethargic because they’re not receiving enough energy from their food intake. A person with pneumonia may also experience shortness of breath, coughing and/or fever, chest pain and/or pain when breathing in or out. If you notice that your loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, don’t delay in getting them to a doctor—it could be a sign of something far more serious than simple bronchitis or flu-like symptoms.