The signs and symptoms of pneumonia vary from mild to severe, depending on factors such as the type of germ causing the infection, and your age and overall health. Mild signs and symptoms often are similar to those of a cold or flu, but they last longer.

Signs and symptoms of pneumonia may include:

  • Fever, sweating and shaking chills
  • Cough, which may produce phlegm
  • Chest pain when you breathe or cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

Newborns and infants may not show any sign of the infection. Or they may vomit, have a fever and cough, appear restless or tired and without energy, or have difficulty breathing and eating.

People older than age 65 and people in poor health or with a weakened immune system may have a lower than normal body temperature. Older people who have pneumonia sometimes have sudden changes in mental awareness.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you have difficulty breathing, chest pain, persistent fever of 102 F (39 C) or higher, or persistent cough, especially if you're coughing up pus.

It's especially important that people in these high-risk groups see a doctor:

  • Children younger than age 2 with signs and symptoms
  • Adults older than age 65
  • People with an underlying health condition or weakened immune system
  • People receiving chemotherapy or taking medication that suppresses the immune system

For some older adults and people with heart failure or chronic lung problems, pneumonia can quickly become a life-threatening condition.

March 14, 2015