Pneumonia - Symptoms

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What are pneumonia symptoms and signs in adults and children?

Most people who develop pneumonia initially have symptoms of a cold (upper respiratory infection, for example, sneezing, sore throat, cough), which are then followed by a high fever (sometimes as high as 104 F), shaking chills, and a cough with sputum production. The sputum is usually discolored and sometimes bloody. Depending on the location of the infection, certain symptoms are more likely to develop. When the infection settles in the air passages, cough and sputum tend to predominate the symptoms. In some, the spongy tissue of the lungs that contain the air sacs is more involved. In this case, oxygenation of the blood can be impaired, along with stiffening of the lung, which results in shortness of breath. At times, the individual's skin color may change and become dusky or purplish (a condition known as "cyanosis") due to their blood being poorly oxygenated.

The only pain fibers in the lung are on the surface of the lung, in the area known as the pleura. Chest pain may develop if the outer aspects of the lung close to the pleura are involved in the infection. This pain is usually sharp and worsens when taking a deep breath and is known as pleuritic pain or pleurisy. In other cases of pneumonia, depending on the causative organism, there can be a slow onset of symptoms. A worsening cough, headaches, and muscle aches may be the only symptoms.

Children and babies who develop pneumonia often do not have any specific signs of a chest infection but develop a fever, appear quite ill, and can become lethargic. Elderly people may also have few symptoms with pneumonia.

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Comment from: downtowntiger, Female (Patient) Published: May 09

I started off with the body aches and high fever (my normal temp is 97, so 102 was really high). No cough until 4 days later. I was treated with an antibiotic for secondary infection (sinus). I was first diagnosed with parainfluenza. Four days later, I had a chest x ray at my own insistence. Sure enough, the entire left lung had pneumonia. I doubled up on my antibiotic and actually felt better other than the fatigue. I ran out of sick days, so I finally went back to the doctor to check out the pneumonia. It was gone. I was given a shot of rocephin "JUST TO BE SURE" which hurt so much I didn't feel better. I was not getting better. No fever, but the coughing up junk was worse and worse. Then, my head became very congested and I couldn't breathe. Still, lungs were clear. It was determined that allergies caused all of my problems, even though I was on allergy shots for 3 months prior. Sickest I have ever been and still recovering 6 weeks later.

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Comment from: mallison, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: January 27

My sickness was a fever for days and sporadic coughing with chest pain and fatigue. The doctor said it was bronchitis but very close to being pneumonia. At the time I had no shortness of breath. I'm on erythromycin now. This was yesterday afternoon. Now I have the shortness of breath asked about and feel a little freaked out like I am suffocating. I can hear a squeak when I try to get my breath. Now no one at the doctor's is answering the phone and we are in a major blizzard.

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