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Can A Person Have Pneumonia Without Cough?

Topic Overview

Pneumonia is a pulmonary condition in which the lungs get inflamed. It is normally caused by a viral, bacterial, or a fungal infection. There are various forms of pneumonia that one can get. If a person develops pneumonia in a hospital setting then it is termed as hospital acquired pneumonia. This type of pneumonia typically occurs in people who develop this condition immediately after a hospital stay or during treatment in a hospital.[1, 2, 3]

If Pneumonia develops at home then it is termed as community acquired pneumonia. Pneumonia can also be classified as typical and atypical. An atypical pneumonia is one in which there are no symptoms or very less symptoms. A typical pneumonia on the other hand has all the classic symptoms seen with this condition.[1, 2, 3]. The article below highlights as to whether a person can have pneumonia without cough.

Can A Person Have Pneumonia Without Cough?

Can A Person Have Pneumonia Without Cough?

Cough is the primary symptom of pneumonia. However, according to American Thoracic Society it is quite possible to have pneumonia without cough. This is seen mostly in young children, the elderly, or people with other underlying medical conditions. Generally a person with pneumonia will experience a dry or wet cough with production of mucous or blood.[1, 3]

The reason why cough is the primary symptom of pneumonia is the condition causes inflammation of the air sacs in the lungs. It is the air sacs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place. The inflammation caused by pneumonia results in these air sacs to be filled with pus or fluid. This is what results in continuous coughing which is the body’s way to expel the mucous out of the air sacs. The phlegm that is produced is the expelled fluid from the air sacs.[1, 3]

However in young children or the elderly, cough may not be the primary symptom. However, there may be other indicators for pneumonia like weakness, confusion, and low body temperature. For babies who do not have cough as a primary symptom of pneumonia there will be other symptoms like vomiting, fatigue, irritable mood, restlessness. The baby’s nostril will flare up when breathing. The ribs will also move inward with every breath. The respiratory rate of babies with atypical pneumonia will also be high. At times, there is also bluish discoloration of the skin.[1, 3]

In typical cases of pneumonia, the primary symptoms are coughing with breathing or any activity. Shortness of breath is also one of the common symptoms of pneumonia.

Some people will also experience alternating bouts of extreme heat and cold. Additionally fever and low energy are also some of the symptoms of pneumonia.[1, 3]

Pneumonia is a preventable condition and below mentioned are some of the strategies that can help prevent this condition. These strategies include:[3]

  • Frequent handwash especially after coming home from outside, especially during these times of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Wearing a mask and social distancing is also a key to prevent conditions like pneumonia, especially when visiting hospitals, daycare center, or nursing homes.
  • Not to venture outside when sick
  • Regular exercise to keep the lungs and heart healthy
  • Pneumococcal vaccine is also quite effective in preventing pneumonia[3]

Pneumonia requires prompt treatment even if it presents with cough or not as a primary symptom. Not having cough as a primary symptom does not guarantee that the person has mild or no pneumonia. It is essential to consult with a physician if there is even a slightest inkling that someone has pneumonia, especially in babies. It is also important to consult a physician if a person has recently recovered or is recovering from pneumonia and the symptoms suddenly take a turn towards worse.[3]

If someone develops confusion or alteration in mental status without a known cause along with other symptoms of pneumonia as mentioned above then also medical attention is necessary to rule out pneumonia.[3]

In conclusion, pneumonia is a pulmonary disorder characterized by inflammation of the lungs. Cough is the primary symptom of pneumonia. However, there are cases, especially in babies or the elderly population where pneumonia presents without cough. In such instances, it is essential to be on the lookout for other symptoms of pneumonia, especially if the patient shows other signs that have been mentioned above of pneumonia.[1, 2, 3]

It should be noted that pneumonia can be life threatening if not treated on time, especially in babies and older adults. Thus it is recommended that anyone who experiences symptoms similar to that of pneumonia should get checked to get an accurate diagnosis and start treatment as early as possible.[1, 2, 3]


Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 11, 2022

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