Pneumonia can quickly become a life-threatening condition for people over age 65 with heart failure or chronic lung problems.
The signs and symptoms of pneumonia vary from mild to severe, depending on factors such as the type of germ causing the infection, your age and your health. Mild signs and symptoms often are similar to those of a cold or flu, but they last longer. Your chances of recovery are much better the sooner you see your doctor. Don’t put it off.
The symptoms of viral pneumonia usually are:
- Low fever
- Muscle aches
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck
- Chest pain
- Sore throat
- Coughing that usually brings up only a small amount of mucus
Bacterial pneumonia usually has these symptoms:
- High fever
- Cough with thick greenish or rust-colored mucus
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid breathing
- Sharp chest pain that is worse with deep breaths
- Abdominal pain
- Severe fatigue
You may also notice chills, heavy sweating, a lower than normal temperature, or sudden changes in mental awareness that result in confusion.
Call Your Doctor if:
- You are older than age 65
- You have an underlying health condition or weakened immune system
- You are receiving chemotherapy or taking medication that suppresses your immune system
Your situation is most urgent if:
- Your shortness of breath gets worse
- Your sharp chest pain does not get any better
- You have a persistent fever of 102°F or higher
- You have a persistent cough, especially if you’re coughing up phlegm or blood
Most of the time, you will need immediate treatment to get better and avoid complications.
Important: Pneumonia can quickly become a life-threatening condition for people over age 65 with heart failure or chronic lung problems.