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Symptoms and Diagnosis

You or your health-care provider may suspect you have the flu based on your symptoms, how severe they are, and how long they last. The flu is more common during the flu season (fall to winter). You may also hear about flu outbreaks in your area from your local public health department and the media.

There are laboratory tests that can determine if you have a flu infection, but they aren’t generally needed since the results usually do not change how the flu is managed. If you are not sure if you have a cold or the flu, refer to the Public Health Agency of Canada chart, IS IT A COLD OR THE FLU?.

Symptoms of the flu

Typical flu symptoms can include:

  • Tiredness
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Runny or congested nose
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Lack of appetite

Symptoms of pneumonia

The signs and symptoms of pneumonia vary depending on your age and what type of pneumonia you have. Symptoms can range from mild to very severe. The most common symptoms of pneumonia:

  • Fever
  • Chill
  • Cough
  • Yellow-green phlegm (mucus)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling very tired and unwell
  • Chest pain

If you have any of these symptoms it’s important to see your health-care provider right away. Since symptoms can vary depending on your age, see your health-care provider if you notice any health-related changes.

If you have a chronic condition such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma, you may also notice a worsening of your condition.

Diagnosing Pneumonia

Your health-care provider may suspect pneumonia after asking you what symptoms you have and for how long you’ve had them. A physical exam, including listening to your lungs with a stethoscope for abnormal sounds, can help with the diagnosis.

If your health-care provider suspects you may have pneumonia, the following tests can help confirm the diagnosis:

  • Chest X-ray can show a pneumonia infection, where it is located, and how much of your lungs are affected
  • Measuring the oxygen level in your blood with an oximeter may show a lower level than normal since pneumonia makes it more difficult for your lungs to transfer oxygen into your bloodstream
  • A blood test may sometimes be used to help determine if there is an infection
  • A sputum test (sample of mucus from your lungs) may sometimes be used to help determine the type of infection

Your health-care provider may send you for other tests if required.