Pneumonia is a lung infection that can make you very sick. You may be more likely to get the disease after having a cold or the flu. These illnesses make it hard for your lungs to fight infection, so it is easier to get pneumonia. Having a long-term, or chronic, disease like asthma, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes also makes you more likely to get pneumonia.
Symptoms of pneumonia caused by bacteria usually come on quickly and may include:
Fever or Cough. You will likely cough up mucus (sputum) from your lungs. Mucus may be rusty or green or tinged with blood. Fast breathing and feeling short of breath, shaking and "teeth-chattering" chills, chest pain that often feels worse when you cough or breathe in, fast heartbeat, feeling very tired or very weak, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea.
Older adults may have different, fewer, or milder symptoms. They may not have a fever. Or they may have a cough but not bring up mucus. The main sign of pneumonia in older adults may be a change in how well they think. Confusion or delirium is common. Or, if they already have a lung disease, that disease may get worse.
Call a doctor immediately if you have: a cough that produces blood-tinged or rust-colored mucus from the lungs, a fever with shaking chills, difficult, shallow, fast breathing with shortness of breath or wheezing, or a sudden onset of confusion.
Call a doctor if your cough: frequently brings up yellow or green mucus from the lungs and lasts longer than 2 days, occurs with a fever of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher and brings up yellow or green mucus from the lungs (not postnasal drainage), causes you to vomit a lot, continues longer than 4 weeks.
To help prevent pneumonia, Healthy People 2020 recommends that adults aged 65 and older receive a pneumonia vaccine. There are two different types of pneumococcal vaccine, pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Check with your physician to see if you need one or both of these vaccines. With flu season on us, now is a good time to receive the vaccine.