The symptoms of pneumonia can develop suddenly over 24 to 48 hours, or they may come on more slowly over several days, according to the NHS. Pneumonia can affect people of any age, but it’s more common in the very young or the elderly. Although most cases of pneumonia are bacterial and are not passed on from one person to another, ensuring good standards of hygiene will help prevent germs spreading.
Common symptoms of pneumonia include a cough, difficulty breathing, a high temperature and chest pain.
The signs and symptoms of pneumonia may also include loss of appetite, according to the American Lung Association.
“How your body responds to pneumonia depends on the type of germ causing the infection, your age and your overall health,” the organisation states.
Other symptoms of pneumonia may include nausea and vomiting, especially in small children, as well as confusion, especially in older people.
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Less common symptoms also include wheezing, as well as joint and muscle pain, the NHS adds.
If you have a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, it could be COVID-19.
A doctor may be able to diagnose pneumonia by asking about your symptoms and examining your chest.
Complications of pneumonia are more common in young children, the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes.
The pneumococcal and flu vaccines can help prevent pneumonia. These vaccines are offered on the NHS for some people at high risk.
A healthy lifestyle can also help prevent pneumonia. For example, you should stop smoking as it damages your lungs and increases the chance of infection.
Most of the time, pneumonia is treated at home, but severe cases may be treated in the hospital.
An ambulance should be called for if a person is struggling to breathe, coughing up blood or feels cold and sweaty, with pale or blotchy skin.
There are more than 30 different causes of pneumonia, and they’re grouped by the cause.
The main types of pneumonia are bacterial, viral, and mycoplasma pneumonia, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Fungal pneumonia is rare in the UK, and more likely to affect people with a weakened immune system.
People can also get it whilst in hospital, and people in intensive care on breathing machines are particularly at risk of developing ventilator-associated pneumonia.
Hospital-acquired pneumonia can develop while a patient is being treated for another condition or having an operation.
Pneumonia can be difficult to diagnose because it shares many symptoms with other conditions, such as asthma.
Complications from pneumonia include respiratory failure, sepsis and lung abscess.
“If you have a long-term lung condition, or care for someone who does, it’s a good idea to have a flu jab every year. Flu can be very serious, and cause complications such as pneumonia,” advises the British Lung Foundation.