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Signs and Symptoms of Pneumonia

Pneumonia is one of the respiratory diseases that affect both adults and children. The condition is an infection that causes inflammation of one or both lungs. The illness’s seriousness ranges from life-threatening to mild, with children, individuals with weak immune systems, and people aging more than 65 years more susceptible to the infection (American Lung Association, 2020). Signs and symptoms related to pneumonia vary depending on such factors as the patient’s overall health, age, and type of germ causing the disease. The signs and symptoms, which can develop suddenly or gradually may include:

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The body temperature of a patient with pneumonia is higher than 37 degrees Celsius. Notably, a fever is not an illness but a sign that the body is trying to fight infection.

According to MedlinePlus (2021), most viruses and bacteria, including that causing pneumonia, does well when the body temperature is normal. However, fever makes it hard for them to survive and activates the body’s immune system.


Patients with pneumonia may also feel cold and shiver at the same time when they have a fever. Chills occur as the body attempts to regulate internal temperature (American Lung Association, 2020). As noted earlier, bacteria and viruses that cause infections such as pneumonia survive at an average body temperature. When these pathogens invade the lungs, the body shivers to raise the internal temperature as a defense mechanism against them.


Coughing is a reflex action that helps clear the throat (Blake & Murrell, 2019). When pneumonia-causing bacteria or viruses attack the lungs, fluids and mucus are secreted by alveoli and other parts of the respiratory system, interfering with the inhalation process. As a result, patients cough in an attempt to clear the mucus that clogs the airway and makes breathing easier.

Sharp or Stabbing Chest Pain

When bacteria and viruses invade the lungs and cause inflammation, the alveoli fill with exudates. The fluid in the lung membranes causes pain that feels like a stabbing sensation (American Lung Association, 2020). Notably, chest pain is the most common symptom of pneumonia, and it worsens when a patient coughs or breathes.

Shortness of Breath or Rapid, Shallow Breathing

The fluid that is filled in the lung membranes reduces the volume of oxygen that an individual can inhale and interferes with the diffusion of carbon dioxide and oxygen (American Lung Association, 2020). Consequently, the body is deprived of an adequate supply of oxygen. Therefore, patients with pneumonia take rapid and shallow breaths in an attempt to meet oxygen demand and minimize pain caused by inhalation.

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Nausea and Vomiting or Diarrhea

Feeling sick to your stomach or nausea is something that occurs to everyone sometimes. The problem can lead to vomiting or diarrhea, causing dehydration and malnutrition. Notably, nausea is a symptom commonly associated with bacterial and viral infections (MedlinePlus, 2021). According to American Lung Association (2020), this sign, together with vomiting and diarrhea, can be noticed in patients with pneumonia caused by Streptococcus pneumonia and influenza virus.

Loss of Appetite

The feeling of not eating in patients with pneumonia may be accompanied by nausea or occur alone. Initially, the sign is hard to notice, and one may fail to consume adequate nutrients needed to maintain health when the issue gets serious (MedlinePlus, 2021). As a result, the body becomes weak and unable to fight the germs causing the disease.

Fatigue and Confusion

Weakness in patients with pneumonia may be associated with fever, loss of appetite, and inadequate oxygen supply to the body. Notably, excessive energy is used to raise body temperature to help fight pathogens causing the infection. Mayo Clinic (2020) indicates that lack of enough oxygen in the body tissues confuses, especially in elderly individuals with pneumonia.


American Lung Association. (2020). What causes pneumonia? Web.

Blake, K., & Murrell, D. (2019). Why am I coughing? Healthline. Web.

Mayo Clinic. (2020). Pneumonia – symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Web.

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