Signs & Symptoms of Secondary Bacterial Pneumonia

Updated February 21, 2017

Secondary bacterial pneumonia occurs after an infection of the lungs such as the flu or whooping cough. Secondary bacterial pneumonia has a higher risk of death than regular pneumonia because the immunity system is already compromised by the first infection. Secondary bacterial pneumonia is treated with antibiotics and normally administered in a hospital setting with an IV and oxygen therapy. Pain medications also are given for chest tightness and pain.

Difficulty Breathing

Secondary bacterial pneumonia causes difficulty in breathing. You may experience wheezing where your breath is hard to pump into and out of the lungs. Rapid breathing or shortness of breath is a normal occurrence.

Chest Pain

A heavy feeling in the chest may occur along with the pain. The chest may feel tight, making it hard to breathe in deep breaths. Lying down makes breathing and chest pain worse, and you may feel like you must sit up to relieve the tightness in the chest area. Chest pain is worse when coughing or the chest may feel sore to the touch.


You may cough up yellow- or green-coloured mucus. Blood-tainted mucus may also occur. The mucus comes from the secondary bacterial infection in the lungs.


Secondary bacterial pneumonia normally brings a high fever, up to 40.6 degrees C, according to the Cleveland Clinic, along with chills. The body shakes and teeth may chatter. In severe cases, lips may turn blue.


As the body fights the secondary bacterial pneumonia, the heart races and difficult breathing results in a weakness within the body. You may only be able to walk one or two steps before needing to rest.

Get immediate medical attention with secondary bacterial pneumonia so you may receive the proper medications to fight the infection. With your body already weakened by the first infection, proper diagnosis and treatment are critical.

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Constance Barker, located in the hills of southern Ohio, is the owner and writer of several financial, credit report and travel websites. She started writing in 1999 for private clients and began creating website content in 2004. She gained expertise in home improvement after she and her husband built their home themselves.