Pneumonia - Symptoms 

Symptoms of pneumonia 

Pneumonia: Simon’s story

Simon developed pneumonia (an inflammation of the tissue in one or both of your lungs) in 2010. He describes the symptoms he experienced, the treatment he received and how the condition affected his ability to work on his farm. It can take up to six months to fully recover from pneumonia.

Media last reviewed: 10/09/2014

Next review due: 10/09/2016

Cold or flu?

Find out about symptoms of colds and flu and how to stop the viruses spreading

The symptoms of pneumonia can develop suddenly (over 24-48 hours) or may come on more slowly, over several days.

Pneumonia symptoms vary and can be similar to those of other chest infections, such as acute bronchitis.

Common symptoms of pneumonia

You are likely to have a cough. This can be dry, or may produce thick mucus (phlegm) that is yellow, green, brownish or blood-stained.

Other common symptoms include:

  • difficulty breathing  your breathing may be rapid and shallow, and you may feel breathless, even when resting
  • rapid heartbeat
  • fever
  • feeling generally unwell
  • sweating and shivering
  • loss of appetite
  • pain in your chest  which gets worse when breathing or coughing

Less common symptoms

Less commonly, symptoms of pneumonia can include:

  • coughing up blood (haemoptysis)
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • nausea or vomiting
  • wheezing
  • pain in your joints and muscles
  • feeling confused and disorientated, particularly in elderly people

When to see your GP

If you experience any symptoms of pneumonia, see your GP.

If you are experiencing severe symptoms – particularly rapid breathing, pain or confusion – seek urgent medical attention.

Read more about how pneumonia is diagnosed.

Page last reviewed: 19/06/2014

Next review due: 19/06/2016


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The 12 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

REILEYROO said on 18 February 2014

My 5 year old son starting taking really deep breaths every now and again, like a sudden gasp. He had no other symptoms and was generally well in himself. I figured that maybe this was just a habit that he was getting into to. He then started to get a high fever that just wouldn't budge and I got an appointment with a "on the day" doctor. He checked him all over and he checked his chest etc and when asked about the "sudden gasp" situation he sent us home with the virus explanation. I do not know why but something was still bugging me, I couldn't rest. On my return home I made an appt with his own doctor but could not get in to see him until 8 days later. After his own doctor saw him and listened to his chest we were sent straight to hospital for a chest X-ray, he said it sounded a bit dull on one side. The X-Ray was done and he got admitted there and then. He had fluid in his lung and chest cavity and was put on antibiotics. We were very close to being transferred to have this drained at another hospital but luckily, the antibiotics worked. Please anybody that feels their children's breathing etc are a little strange/different etc... see your own doc asap. I had no idea he had pneumonia and he was so poorly. Now I know the signs, I won't be hanging around.

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Julia Thompson said on 03 November 2012

Hi everybody

My dear Grandad died in 1959 from double pneumonia

I spent the last few hours with him.
He was hallucinating, verbally and mentally confused.
The sweat was dripping of him.
He was 62 years ld.
At my age of 65 years old I have gratefully agreed to have theflu/pneumonia jab to which I am entitled
That says it all for me
All the best everyone with your decisions!

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User697513 said on 13 July 2012

I have just got out of ITU due to pneumonia. I phoned my gp as I had bad flu symptoms and was 20 weeks pregnant he came out to see me and said I had a chest infection and gave me antibiotics the next day I was finding it hard to breath and phoned the gp back he didn't see me again just prescribed inhalers, that evening I ended up at a&e as my breathing got worse. The last thing that I remember was being admitted to the assessment unit that night, from what I have been told since I got admitted to ITU the next day and got worse over the following couple of days and ended up on a ventilator as my blood gases had dropped so low.
I don't remember any of this the next thing I knew I was in ITU with a traciostomy.
The staff informed me that I am lucky to be here and they didn't think I was going to make it, and it was a good job that I took myself to a&e of I might not have been so lucky.
I understand that gp are busy, but I have been there once in the past year for reasons other than routine pregnancy appointments and was still treated like a time waster.
Although I did get a phone call from my gp after I was discharged to see how I was and to offer me the flu jab this year and the pneumonia jab.

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jmacd said on 09 July 2012

why will you not allow me to print "ALL PAGES" on the website relative to silent pneumonia ie:- the comments by other contributors in respect of mis-diagnosis by medical practitioners in regard to this illness?

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Haveygirl said on 15 June 2012

My Partner was ill in March with what started as a cold/viral illness. He got worse very quickly with a fever, pain in one side of his back and general lethargy and rapid breathing. His GP dismissed it as a virus and 24 hrs later he was admitted via A&E and diagnosed with pneumonia. He also had a kidney infection at the same time which he knew nothing about and after 3 days on intravenous antibiotics he was discharged and is fine now. It was very scary as despite his symptoms the Consultant said they would never have known until they did a chest xray and they didn't think it was that serious! The week before he took ill I noticed during his sleep he was making very strange breathing noises/snoring that I had never heard before and if I ever hear them again he will be whisked to A&E with no question!!!

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CarrieA said on 31 May 2012

in June 2011 my little boy (5 year old) was quite poorly with what started off as sickness and a high temperature. Through the day he would seem lethargic with a slight temp but still managed to potter around but on the evening his temperature would soar. My son is autistic, epileptic, has TSC with severe learning difficulties so was unable to tell me how he was feeling or if he had any pain. After a few days of being poorly he had a static grand mal seizure, and fitted for 7 hours. he was rushed to hospital wheret he only outward signs of pneumonia he had was a breathing rate of 80 breaths per minute and a high temperature, doctors listened to his chest which sounded clear, he did not have a cough but due to the rapid breathing a chest xray was done. this showed pneumonia in one lung which had collapsed. After the seizures were under control he was put on an antibiotic and spent 4 days in hospital. It took over 6 weeks for my son to fully recover his strength. When ever he is poorly now i pay close attention to have fast he is breathing when at rest. If my son had not had that static grand mal i would never had known he had pnemonia. It scares me to think of just what could have happened to him. More awareness of the signs of it needs to be made to the general public.

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naida4 said on 15 April 2012

In August 2011 I was ill with a very high temperture I had
a slight cough pains in my chest and fever of hot and cold I was in bed for two days nothing to eat ordrink could not get out of bed my partner decided it was time to
call the emergency services by the time they came which was'nt long I was in a bad way my eyese rollingand I could not focus. They took me straight to Truma were I was there for 6 hours I had no oxygen in my blood and also had x-rays done which showed as me having double pneumonia both lungs. I was put on a drip and oxygen, I was in hospital for 17 days. I had no really
symptons but do suffer with bronchitis and have been hospitalised with this before. I call pneumonia a slient killer and I now have an autoimmune disease Rheumatroid Arthritis. I still feel unwell and had to give my job up as I get very breathless and tired. My mother died of pneumonia and now my father has it lets hope he makes a recovery.

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marky71 said on 18 February 2012

on 17 october 2008 i was admitted to hospital after enduring 4 days of what i can only describe as total pain in my back,sweating going hot and cold,urinating alot and dizzyness and hallucinating,all horrible.
On having blood tests in hospital i was admitted to a surgical ward and put on a drip and administered morphine and anal liquid slow release diclofenac.
I was not well at all but given all the treatment i need and discharged the next day and made a full recovery.
If you have any symptoms dont delay this is a killer and if goes untreated will in some severe cases will be fatal,not all though,get your self to a hospital if your unsure.

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Ruthie1 said on 19 August 2011

On 1st August 2011 I developed a fever and was very tired. During that night I was woken by a very bad pain on the right side of my chest. This prevented any more sleep that night. The following morning I saw my GP who could not hear anything wrong with my chest and arranged a blood test. The following day I was admitted to hospital as my blood test showed my white cells were fighting an infection. I had now developed a cough and the pain in my chest was unbearable. A chest x ray diagnosed pneumonia. I had not had a virus or infection prior to attending my GP. I have just completed my second 7 day course of antibiotics (first set did not clear my symptoms). I feel much better but a slight pain still exists. Neither my GP or Consultant could hear anything wrong with my lungs. I have a follow up X ray in 4 weeks. My GP is my saviour for arranging the blood test. Pneumonia in my case was 'silent'. I've been advised that it could be many months before I fully recover.

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plymgreen said on 10 August 2011

In early august 2011. My partner and I were doing some gardening. I thought I'd pulled a muscle in my shoulder and had gel applied to the shoulder blade. It relieved the pain. But pain kept coming back, stronger and stronger. Breathing had also became inpaired. After seeing a nurse practioner, she refered me to the Doctor, who whilst I told I was struggling to breath gave me a prescription for the antibiotics to address the infection. After a helish night of not being able to breath, or find a place to settle. I couldn't sleep. I just sat on a wooden chair rocking, in uncomfortable pain. No matter where I put myself, i was in a mess. Next morning my partner took, one look at me and said hospital. I said yeah. I walked to the abulance just. I am writing this following the seven days antibiotics, where I am just regaining my breath. I spent four days in hospital. I am still a little dizzie. I am guessing its the side affects of the drugs. I have not driven yet, but know I got to soon. This ilness has left me scared of losing my breath. I have been an outside worker all my life and not smoked. I have coughed up a little blood and phlem. But hoping this will come to an end soon. My advice is any of these symptoms, get to see your Doctor. If you don't or unable to get in. Go to the hospital.

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tighsamhradh said on 24 May 2011

After two trips on two consecutive days to my local doctors surgery each time seen by a locum with (as I now know) the symptoms of Pneumonia, I was sent away with no treatment or apparent concern. The second one even refused to discuss my symptoms, and told me to leave. I had to demand to be seen again the second day by my usual doctor despite the receptionist telling me I could not be seen for another 3 days. Finally I was reluctantly granted another appointment the same day, and seen by my usual doctor. He immediately diagnosed Pneumonia and Bronchitis, and gave me a prescription for the relevant treatment. If I had waited for a second appointment, my condition would have only worsened without treatment. If you feel ill, make sure that the doctor you see has actually bothered to listen to your symptoms and fight for your right for a quick and correct diagnosis.

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mrhoodwink said on 15 October 2010

In august 09 I had pneumonia - and symptoms that I had was pain in both sides of my chest, - and also pain both sides of my back - back of my shoulder blades. I was given more than one lot of antibiotics, - The pain continued on and off for at least 12 months, - my GP said it does take a long time to get over. - even now I feel some pain in the same spot - at the back of my shoulder blades. - I am not coughing as much as I was 12 months ago, - but I do suffer with asthma so I normally cough due to this condition.

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