6 Signs Your Cough Could Be Pneumonia

woman coughing

Pneumonia is a common and very serious lung infection that can affect people of all ages. Cold and flu season is prime time for pneumonia to strike. That’s because the same viruses that cause cold and flu symptoms can also infect your lungs. And if you’re already sick with the cold or flu, you are also more susceptible to infection with bacterial pneumonia.

An estimated 400,000 people are hospitalized with pneumonia each year in the United States. In 2016, nearly 50,000 people died from this disease.

Signs of Pneumonia to Watch For

  • Duration. One of the most important indicators is duration. Cold and flu viruses generally last seven to 10 days, so if your cough lingers and you don’t improve after a week or two, you could have pneumonia. If your symptoms don’t lessen or they improve but suddenly get worse, you should be seen at your nearest RediClinic.
  • Phlegmy (wet) vs. dry cough. Bacterial pneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia, so it’s important to pay attention to your cough. A phlegmy cough is most common with bacterial pneumonia, while a dry cough is typically associated with viral pneumonia.
  • Fever. Fever is associated with both types of pneumonia, though absence of a fever doesn’t rule out the disease. The fever may be accompanied by severe chills and shivering.
  • Shortness of breath. When pneumonia interferes with your lung function and you cannot get enough oxygen to your blood, you may feel breathless.
  • Chest pain. The strain of coughing and breathing can exhaust the muscles, causing discomfort and even pain in the chest. You may also feel some chest discomfort from the infection in your lungs. In extreme cases, pneumonia can lead to heart attack, so call 911 if you have sharp chest pain or any symptoms of a heart attack.
  • Dizziness or confusion. This can be a very serious sign that the pneumonia infection in the lungs has spread to the bloodstream. If you experience dizziness or confusion in conjunction with some of the other above symptoms, you need to seek care immediately.

Protect Against Pneumonia With a Vaccine

If you are a smoker, one of the best ways to prevent contracting pneumonia is to stop smoking. Those who are also at greatest risk of contracting pneumonia should be immunized against the disease with pneumonia shots. If you are at risk and have not yet received a pneumonia vaccine to help protect yourself from pneumonia, visit your nearest RediClinic today. Our board-certified clinicians can administer pneumonia shots seven days a week at your convenience. Walk-ins are also welcome.

Make an online appointment to be seen at RediClinic!