Pneumonia, cold & flu

It’s important to be aware of respiratory infectious diseases such as the common cold, flu and pneumonia, particularly in winter. Whilst the cooler months are higher risk, especially for people living with a lung disease, there are many things you can to do to protect yourself and keep lungs healthy.


Pneumonia can affect anyone. Symptoms of pneumonia, like chest pain, cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing, can require hospitalisation.

Pneumonia is a common and potentially fatal lung infection that should not be underestimated. It can be caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi. During normal respiration, air travels through the lungs to the alveoli or air sacs. Pneumonia results when air sacs in the lungs fill with secretions and fluids that obstruct normal air flow.


Influenza is an infection caused by a virus. It is spread from person to person by tiny drops produced during a cough or sneeze and by hand to hand contact. While we often call it the “flu”, the common cold is rarely due to the influenza virus. True influenza causes a much more severe illness than the usual cold.

The common cold

The “common cold” is a viral infection. In more than two thirds of people, the germ responsible is a small virus called rhinovirus. People have been trying to cope with the common cold for many years. It remains the most prevalent contagious disease in this country. It is the most cited reason for absence from school or work, and the commonest reason for a visit to a family doctor.