Pneumonia symptoms: Colour of your skin could determine if it’s a more than a severe cold

Covid: ‘Three times’ more deaths than flu and pneumonia

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The symptoms of pneumonia can develop suddenly over 24 to 48 hours, may come on more slowly over several days and can affect people of any age. The colour of your skin could determine whether it is in fact pneumonia rather than just a bad bout of a cold. What to spot?

Medical News Today lists the lesser-known signs of pneumonia which include:

  • Cough
  • Rusty or green phlegm, or sputum, coughed up from lungs
  • Fever
  • Fast breathing and shortness of breath
  • Shaking chills
  • Chest pain that usually worsens when taking a deep breath, known as pleuritic pain
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Confusion or delirium, especially in older adults
  • Dusky or purplish skin colour, or cyanosis, from poorly oxygenated blood.

A person’s skin colour may become bluish or purplish if there are insufficient levels of oxygen in the blood.

One study from the National Library of Health found that cyanosis of pneumonia patients is due to the incomplete saturation of venous blood with oxygen in the lungs.

This caused various shades of blue in the distal parts caused by a mixture of reduced haemoglobin and oxyhaemoglobin.

At-home tips for recovering from pneumonia quicker include:

  • Plenty of rest
  • Stop smoking
  • Stay away from smoke and other irritants
  • Prevent lung infections
  • Practice correct handwashing
  • Use pain medicine as directed
  • Eat a light diet as needed
  • Drink plenty of water and fluids
  • Finish all prescription medicine
  • Try to stay away from air pollution.


Pneumonia in older adults can be difficult to diagnose. Your doctor will first request your medical history in which you may be asked things such as:

Your symptoms

Any underlying health conditions

Medications or supplements that you’re taking

Your smoking history

Whether you’ve received your pneumococcal or influenza vaccinations.

Your GP will then perform a physical examination. They will assess vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rate, and blood oxygen levels.

They may also use a stethoscope to listen for crackling sounds in your lungs.

The NHS advises that if you experience any of the symptoms listed you should contact your GP immediately.

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