Symptoms of pneumonia

If you have pneumonia, you’ll have symptoms that are similar to having flu or a chest infection.

Symptoms may develop gradually over a few days or progress much faster.

The main symptom is coughing. You’ll feel weak and tired, and you’ll probably have at least one of these symptoms too:

  • coughing up mucus
  • a high temperature – you might also sweat and shiver
  • difficulty breathing or getting out of breath quicker than normal
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • loss of appetite

Even if you have pneumonia, you may not have all these symptoms.

More severe cases may also cause:

  • quick breathing
  • confusion
  • low blood pressure
  • coughing up blood
  • rapid heartbeat
  • nausea and vomiting

Some people get a sharp pain in their chest when they breathe in and out. This may be because the thin outer covering of the lung has become infected and inflamed. This inflammation, called pleurisy, stops your lungs moving smoothly as you breathe.

The symptoms of pneumonia are often very similar to those of other chest infections, such as bronchitis, COPD flare-ups or bronchiectasis flare-ups. To get a proper diagnosis you’ll need to visit your GP.

What to do if you have these symptoms

If you feel unwell with these symptoms, see your GP or call 111. If you have severe symptoms, especially chest pain, a rapid heartbeat, quick breathing, shivers or confusion, get urgent advice from your GP or call 999. Take extra care if you’re over 65.

Next: Diagnosis and treatment for pneumonia >


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Last medically reviewed: October 2016. Due for review: October 2019

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.