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An in-depth report on the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of pneumonia.

Alternative Names

Antibiotics; Bronchitis: Acute


General Symptoms. The symptoms of bacterial pneumonia develop abruptly and typically include the following:

  • A single episode of shaking chills followed by fever.
  • Chest pain on the side of lung infection. (Severe abdominal pain occurs in some people with pneumonia in the lower lobes of the lung.)
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Rapid breathing and heart beat.
  • Cough. May be dry initially but it eventually produces more fluid (sputum).
  • Sometimes nausea, vomiting, muscle aches occurs.

Emergency Symptoms. Symptoms of pneumonia indicating a medical emergency include the following:

  • High fever.
  • A rapid heart rate.
  • Bluish-toned (cyanotic) skin.
  • Labored and heavy breathing.
  • Mental confusion.
  • Coughing up sputum containing pus or blood.

Symptoms in the Elderly. It is important to note that older people may have fewer or different symptoms than younger people. Symptoms may come on much more slowly. An elderly person who experiences even a minor cough and weakness for more than a day should seek medical help. Some may exhibit confusion, lethargy, and general deterioration.

Symptoms of Pneumonia Caused by Anaerobic Bacteria

Pneumonia caused by anaerobic bacteria such as Bacteroides can produce dangerous abscesses in the lungs. People with such pneumonias may have prolonged fever and productive cough, frequently showing blood in the sputum. Signs of blood may indicate dead lung tissue (necrosis). About a third of these patients experience weight loss.

Symptoms of Atypical Pneumonia

General Symptoms for Atypical Pneumonias. Atypical nonbacterial pneumonia is most commonly caused by Mycoplasma and usually appears in children and young adults.

Symptoms progress gradually and may have the following course:

  • General flu-like symptoms are often the first indications. They may include fatigue, fever, weakness, headache, nasal discharge, sore throat, earache, and stomach and intestinal distress.
  • Vague pain under and around the breastbone may occur, but the severe chest pain associated with typical bacterial pneumonia is uncommon.
  • Patients may experience a severe hacking cough, but it usually does not produce sputum.

Symptoms of Legionnaire's Disease. Symptoms of Legionnaire's disease usually evolve more rapidly and include high fever, a dry cough, and shortness of breath, often accompanied by headache, muscle pains, fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, and mental confusion.


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