8 Symptoms of Pneumonia that You Shouldn't Ignore

05 January, 2020
Pneumonia is a condition that can cause a range of different symptoms, including fever, a productive cough, chest pain when breathing or coughing, and nausea, among other things.

Being able to recognize the symptoms of pneumonia will mean that you’re able to seek help from a doctor sooner, so that they can start the appropriate course of treatment. In turn, this will reduce the number of risks to your health, and help you to recover more quickly.

Pneumonia is an infection that directly affects the lungs. This can lead to a number of serious health issues, so it’s important to diagnose and treat it as soon as possible.

This condition more often affects those who have a weakened immune system. 

What exactly is pneumonia?

The lungs carry out one of the most important processes of the human body: respiration. They distribute oxygen and expel the carbon dioxide from our body.

Pneumonia is an infection that can affect one or both of the lungs. It causes the lungs to fill up with liquid and pus, making it considerably harder for the person to breathe. Because of the decrease in oxygen and the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the body, it can be life-threatening.

You might be interested in: 10 Signs that Your Lungs May Be Failing

What are the causes of pneumonia?

Microbes, bacteria, viruses and fungi usually cause pneumonia. They can be contracted through a wide range of different ways such as:

  • Inhaling microbes.
  • Flu complications.
  • A pneumococcal or fungal infection.
  • Inhaling certain foods, liquids or secretions, among other things.
  • Bacteria and viruses originating in the nose, mouth or paranasal sinuses can move towards the lungs.

What are the symptoms of pneumonia?

The symptoms of pneumonia can vary according to each case and the severity of the condition in that particular patient. The most common symptoms include:

1. Chills

Normally, people suffering from pneumonia experience repeated chills throughout the day. These chills can last from anywhere between thirty and sixty minutes.

2. Fever and cough

These are the most common symptoms seen in those suffering from pneumonia. They can show consistent fevers that reach up to 40º C (104ºF), general sickness and cough.

Mucus and phlegm may also be present in coughs. They may be brownish-red or yellow-green in color. In some cases, blood might be present. Likewise, the fever and cough might be preceded by a throat infection.

This also might interest you: Home Remedies for When You Have a Fever

3. Breathing difficulties

Breathing difficulties occur due to the little oxygen that the body receives when it suffers from a disease like pneumonia. It’s more apparent when undertaking activities that require physical exertion, such as climbing stairs, walking quickly or lifting heavy objects. In addition to making it harder to breathe, this condition can also lead to quick, shallow breaths.

4. Pain when inhaling

People suffering from pneumonia usually experience pain when breathing in. The pain results from an inflamed pleura, better known as pleuritis.

5. Numbness and color changes in limbs

As a result of the lack of oxygen in the blood, other symptoms of pneumonia include coldness, inflammation and numbness of the lips, tongue, extremities, fingers and nose. These areas may even appear blue or purplish in color.

We recommend that you read: Why Do We Get Cold Hands and Feet?

6. Joint pain

Some people suffering from this disease can experience constant joint pain due to the little amount of oxygen flowing through the body.

7. Confusion

In some cases involving elderly patients, confusion or disorientation can be a symptom of pneumonia. Investigators have also discovered that some infections increase the risk of strokes and Alzheimer’s disease.

8. White nail syndrome

Also known as leukonychia, this syndrome can result from chemical poisoning, cardiac diseases, pneumonia or hypoalbuminemia.

In addition to those mentioned previously, other symptoms of pneumonia include excessive sweating and clammy skin, little energy and fatigue.

Pneumonia: prognosis

When it comes to pneumonia, the prognosis can vary depending on a number of different factors. Age, the underlying pathogen, the reaction of the immune system, and the type of treatment will all determine how the condition progresses.

However, in the majority of cases, those suffering from pneumonia should start to recover within two weeks, if they respond well to treatment. Pneumonia can be more serious when it involves older patients, or those suffering from cardiac or pulmonary problems.


If you show several of these symptoms, you should talk to your trusted physician, who can carry out the necessary tests. In doing so, they’ll be able to determine whether or not you’re suffering from pneumonia, and start the most appropriate course of treatment for your particular case.

Featured image courtesy of © wikiHow.com

  • Faraaz Ali Shah, et al.Bidirectional Relationship between Cognitive Function and Pneumonia. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2013 Sep 1; 188(5): 586–592.
  • Prina E, et al. New aspects in the management of pneumonia. Critical Care 2016 20:267.
  • Stupka J, et al. Community-acquired pneumonia in elderly patient.Aging health.2009; 5(6): 763–774.
  • Tate J, et al. Infection hospitalization increases risk of dementia in the elderly.Crit Care Med. 2014 May;42(5):1037-46.