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What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is swelling (inflammation) of the tissue in one or both lungs and is usually caused by a bacterial infection.

At the end of the bronchi (breathing tubes) in your lungs there are clusters of bronchioles (tiny air sacs). If you have pneumonia, these bronchioles become inflamed and fill up with fluid making it feel like you are drowning.


  • Each year, approximately 1 in every 100 adults in the UK develops pneumonia and the consequences can be serious.
  • More than 50,000 adults in the UK die of pneumonia each year.
  • In the UK, pneumonia is one of the most common causes of death due to infection in both men and women.
  • Over 172,000 adult hospital admissions are due to pneumonia; over 1 in 5 occur in people under 65.

Facts on pneumonia

  • Mild cases of pneumonia can leave sufferers with a cough that lasts 2-3 weeks after antibiotic treatment and they can feel tired for even longer.
  • More serious cases often lead to hospitalisation and can even be fatal.
  • If you have a heart condition and have pneumonia, you are four times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
  • Developing pneumonia may also lead to sepsis.
  • Pneumonia can affect people of any age but it’s more common and can be more serious in certain groups of people, such as the very young or elderly.

Common symptoms

  • A cough – which may be dry or produce thick yellow, green, brown or blood-stained phlegm (mucus).
  • Difficulty breathing – breathing may be rapid and shallow and they may feel breathless even when resting.
  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • Fever, Sweating and shivering.
  • Feeling generally unwell.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Chest pain – which gets worse when breathing or coughing.

Those who are more at risk include:

  • Adults over 45 years.
  • Patients with long term medical conditions – cardiovascular (heart) disease. Diabetes or respiratory diseases such as asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
  • Patients who have weakened immunity – underlying health conditions, such as chronic heart, lung, liver or kidney disease, and long-term steroid use.
  • Smokers.
  • Flu sufferers, as this increases the chances of catching pneumonia by 100 times.

How long does pneumonia last?

Mild pneumonia can usually be treated at home with rest, antibiotics and by drinking plenty of fluids. More severe cases may need hospital treatment.


How quickly you improve will depend on how severe your pneumonia is.


Most people will recover fully after treatment, but pneumonia can lead to serious complications such as pleurisy, a lung abscess or blood poisoning (Septicaemia).


As a general guide, after:

One week – fever should have resolved.

Four weeks – chest pain and mucus production should have substantially reduced.

Six weeks – cough and breathlessness should have substantially reduced.

Three months – most symptoms should have resolved, but you may still feel very tired (fatigue).

Six months – most people will feel back to normal.


How does the service work?

  • Step 1: Contact your local Rowlands Vaccination Pharmacy.
  • Step 2: Drop into your local pharmacy complete patient consent form and discuss any questions with your specially trained pharmacist.
  • Step 3: Have the vaccination.

To find your nearest Rowlands Pharmacy simply enter your postcode into the store finder.

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