Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas warns of the dangers of pneumonia after contracting the disease

”I’d say it took about ten seconds of tapping my chest for them to work it out,’ he says. ‘I could clearly hear the hollow sound when the consultant tapped the right side of my chest, compared to the dull thud on the left where the intense pain was – my left lung was basically full of fluid.’

Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas believed that pneumonia ‘was only something old people got’, when he contracted the disease aged 40. After being discharged from hospital, the Welsh rugby player is now raising awareness of the symptoms to look out for, and urging people to be aware of the signs.

As part of the campaign, Professor Brown of the charity Breathing Matters warned that ”Asthma is a significant risk factor for pneumococcal infection, roughly doubling your chances of developing it – patients with asthma are the ones who need it but who probably don’t know the risks and aren’t being vaccinated.’

The International Longevity Centre – UK has previously highlighted the prevalence of invasive pneumoccocal disease amongst people in their 40s and 50s. The graph featured opposite exhibits a significant rise in the number of reported cases of pneumococcal disease as people enter their 40s.

Gareth Thomas is supporting the Expect the Unexpected campaign. More information about the campaign can be found here, and you can read more about this story here.