Pneumonia is a potentially serious chest infection which causes inflammation of the tissue in one or both lungs and is usually caused by a bacterial infection. Around 8 in 1000 people in the UK get pneumonia each year which is more common during autumn and winter.

In most instances the condition can be cured but is regarded as more serious and potentially life threatening in the elderly and young children.

The most common form is a bacterium called ‘streptococcus pneumoniae’ which is less contagious than flu or a cold and is generally dealt with by the body’s immune system before any infection is caused.

Aside to bacterial pneumonia other types include viral pneumonia, aspirational pneumonia, fungal pneumonia and hospital acquired pneumonia.

Symptoms of pneumonia are similar to flu and a chest infection and can develop quickly over 24 – 48 hrs or over a several day period.

More common symptoms might include;

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid or shallow breathing
  • Faster heartbeat
  • Chest pain or discomfort, particularly when coughing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing up mucus
  • A high temperature often accompanied by sweats and shivering

If you feel unwell with any severe symptoms, particularly chest pain, a rapid heartbeat, quick breathing, shivers or confusion you are advised to seek urgent advice from your GP or call 999.

Risk groups include people over 65 years of age, people with cancer, especially those having chemotherapy, people with long-term heart, lung and kidney disease or diabetes, people who smoke or drink alcohol to excess and babies and young children.

Your GP is able to diagnose pneumonia based upon your symptoms, medical history and following examination which would involve listening to your chest with a stethoscope and taking your temperature.  Other tests including a chest x-ray or sputum sample might be required with a ‘follow up’ appointment if symptoms don’t improve.  Early diagnosis and treatment is essential and in the more serious instances will necessitate treatment at hospital with drip fed fluid, antibiotics and oxygen.

Pneumonia and Mesothelioma

Early symptoms of pleural mesothelioma often include pleural effusions (fluid build-up) around the lungs which can be confused with pneumonia meaning a patient may be misdiagnosed and subjected to delay in their treatment.

Other common symptoms between the two conditions include shortness of breath, chest pain, dry cough and weight loss making it more likely to consider pneumonia rather than mesothelioma.   Pleural thickening (scarring) of the lung linings and pleura can also be found in both conditions and in cases involving empyema, pleurisy and tuberculosis (TB).

In suspected pneumonia cases fluid drained from the lungs is commonly tested to determine the presence of viral or bacterial pneumonia and seldom to test for mesothelioma, which is normally diagnosed by CT scan and PET Scan.

Sadly, it is not uncommon for pleural mesothelioma to be misdiagnosed (or even overlooked) given its resemblance to that of pneumonia and flu.  In cases of mesothelioma early detection is vital to improve survival rates and it is important to mention any asbestos exposure at the time of examination.

If you have concerns regarding your general health and have encountered asbestos dust exposure you should consult with your GP at your earliest opportunity who will be best placed to determine what, if any, medical investigations might be required and which could include a chest x-ray, CT Scan, PET Scan, blood test and/or a biopsy.

If you have been diagnosed with pneumonia or mesothelioma and/or you are undergoing medical investigations and mention has been made that your condition could be work-related please call us today on FREEPHONE 0808 164 6018, complete our Enquire Now form, talk to us via Live Chat or email us at

If you prefer you can forward a copy of any correspondence to us, (including medical report, letter, scan or x-ray report etc) in a plain envelope addressed to ‘FREEPOST ASBESTOS HEALTH CHECK’ – please remember no stamp is required.  Alternatively you might wish to email us at