7 Signs Your Upper Respiratory Infection is Actually Pneumonia

Upper respiratory infections typically clear up within two to three weeks, but they can develop into pneumonia. If you are experiencing one or more of these pneumonia symptoms, it’s time to consult your doctor.

Previous
1/7 View as List
Next

Fever

iStock/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

You may develop a low-grade fever with an upper respiratory infections (URI); it’s not common, but also not impossible. If, however, that fever reaches 101 degrees or higher, there's a greater chance that URI has developed into pneumonia. (Related: Could it be a sinus infection? Here are common sinus infection symptoms.)

Rapid heart rate

iStock/Voyagerix

If during your illness you notice your heart beating faster than normal, take a moment to check your heart rate. Anything over 100 beats per minute is considered a rapid heart rate. If a rapid heart rate persists, seek medical attention.

Chest pain

iStock/pixelheadphoto

When an URI moves down into the lungs, a tightening of the chest and pain may occur. Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs and not just the upper respiratory system. The pain is a signal that the URI has developed into something more serious. (Related: These little habits can boost your immunity all winter long.)

Wet cough

iStock/lisafx

A persistent cough is common with a URI. (Related: Find out these natural cough remedies.) Eventually, that cough becomes productive and allows for the body to push out mucus. However, if that cough is consistently wet and rattly, this could mean that the URI has turned into pneumonia. If you have a cough that keeps bringing up mucus and doesn’t bring relief, you may have pneumonia.

Blood-tinged mucus

iStock/monkeybusinessimages

If the mucus being produced by your cough is tinged with blood or has a rusty color, this is a potential sign that the discharge is coming from deep in the lungs, which indicates a lower respiratory infection such as pneumonia. Let your doctor know about this change as it may require a different course of treatment. Here's what else your mucus can say about your health.

Chills

iStock/George Clerk

Patients with pneumonia often report teeth-chattering chills that cannot be remedied. Chills are a sign of fever and that the body is working overtime to regulate temperature. This is a sign that an upper respiratory infection has developed into pneumonia.

Difficulty breathing

iStock/Wavebreakmedia

If you have been suffering a cold or upper respiratory infection and your breathing becomes shallow or labored, you may have pneumonia. This is a serious symptom that may require a nebulizer breathing treatment in order to open the lungs. Consult your physician immediately to avoid further issues from oxygen deprivation such as lightheadedness, blood flow issues, or losing consciousness.

Previous
1/7 View as List
Next

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.