The symptoms of pneumonia may vary from one person to another. They can be mild to severe, depending on certain factors, such as the type of germ that caused the infection, your age, and the overall state of your health.
Often times, these symptoms mimic those of a cold or a flu, but last longer. They can develop slowly, over several days, or manifest suddenly, over 24 to 48 hours after being exposed to the disease-causing organism.1 Some of the most common signs of pneumonia include:2
• Fever, shaking chills, and sweating
• Cough that may or may not have greenish or yellowish mucus
• Shortness of breath (usually when you do strenuous activity, such as climb stairs)
• Nausea and vomiting
• Rapid heartbeat
• A stabbing chest pain when you cough or breathe in deeply
Bacterial Versus Viral Pneumonia May Have Hallmark Symptoms
There are also specific differences in the symptoms you experience depending on whether you have bacterial or viral pneumonia.3
If your disease comes from bacteria, your temperature may rise up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and may come with profuse sweating, rapid breathing, and increased pulse rate. Your nailbeds and lips may appear bluish due to lack of oxygen in the blood, and you may appear delirious or confused.
On the other hand, viral pneumonia symptoms may mimic that of influenza: fever, dry cough, muscle pain, headache, and weakness. After 12 to 36 hours, increasing breathlessness may occur, and the cough may worsen, and may come with mucus. Your lips may also turn bluish.
Pneumonia Symptoms in Children and the Elderly
This illness may be particularly dangerous for infants or very young children, as they do not show signs of the infection sometimes. Other symptoms of pneumonia in children or infants include vomiting, fever and cough, restlessness, fatigue. Babies may also appear lethargic, may cry more than usual, feel irritable or restless, and feed poorly.
However, if you notice your child’s or baby’s nostrils flaring while breathing or that his or her muscles below and between the ribs and above the collarbone are working hard to help him or her breathe, then he or she may need immediate medical attention. These are symptoms of severe pneumonia that may be lethal if not treated immediately.4
As for seniors, it’s common for pneumonia to come with delirium, confusion, or sudden changes in mental awareness. They may have a lower than normal temperature and fewer or milder symptoms. But this does not mean that pneumonia in the elderly should be taken lightly – in fact, it is one of the most common causes of mortality among seniors, as it tends to compound other illnesses, like lung disease.
Just like in young children, pneumonia can also be extremely life threatening for the elderly and people with chronic heart or lung problems, so if any of these symptoms manifest, consult a physician immediately.