Know The Difference Between Common Cold And Flu
The flu, which is caused by influenza viruses, also spreads and causes illness around the same time as the common cold. Because these two illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, flu symptoms are worse than the common cold and can include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue . Flu can also have very serious complications. CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccination as the first and best way to prevent the flu. If you get the flu, antiviral drugs may be a treatment option.
Detection Of Several Viruses
In 1997, Drews and colleagues reviewed eight studies of a total of 1341 cases of respiratory viral infection detected mostly with conventional techniques. These researchers noted dual viral infection in 67 cases. Detection of several viruses in a fairly high proportion of cases has been a feature of pneumonia aetiological studies in which PCR was used. In particular, for childhood pneumonia, two or three viruses have been detected in 1020% of children., , , , , , , , Specifically, human bocavirus is detected frequently in association with other respiratory viruses., , In a Thai pneumonia study, 40 of 44 children younger than 5 years with human bocavirus infections had co-infection with other viruses. The combination of human bocavirus and rhinovirus was the most typical dual infection. In a comprehensive virological study of childhood pneumonia, two or more viruses were detected in 61 of 338 pneumonia episodes, and three viruses were recorded in nine cases. Human bocavirus was associated with other viruses in 33 of 48 episodes, followed by influenza viruses and respiratory syncytial virus . In another study, 64% of children with human bocavirus infection and co-infection with another virus had serological evidence of acute human bocavirus infection.
Pneumonia Risk Factors And Complications
Anyone can develop pneumonia as a complication of an infection.
About one-half of all people who get pneumonia are between the ages of 18 and 57. And about half the people who die from bacterial pneumonia are 18 to 64 years old.
People with a higher risk of pneumonia include those who:
- Are 65 years old or older.
- Smoke or who spend time around people who smoke.
- Have a weakened immune system.
- Take medicine that weakens or suppresses their immune system.
- Are receiving treatment for cancer.
- Have received an organ transplant.
- Have breathed in toxic chemicals recently or frequently over time.
People with the following chronic health conditions also have a higher risk of pneumonia:
- Conditions that weaken the immune system.
If people with pneumonia don’t receive treatment, many will form complications and some may even die.
People who get pneumonia in the hospital often have a higher risk of dying than those who get it in the community.
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Should I Get Vaccinated Now Against Flu And Pneumococcal Bacteria
Along with the flu shot, vaccines are available against some of the common bacterial causes of pneumonia. Pneumococcal vaccines are recommended for adults ages 65 and older, and people with certain underlying health conditions.
We asked experts whether its still a good idea to get a flu shot if you havent had one this year, given that flu season has begun to wane.
Dela Cruz says hes hesitant to recommend a flu vaccine right now, especially for people who are in high-risk categories, because of the possibility of exposure to coronavirus during a visit to a healthcare office or clinic. While its important to reduce your likelihood of flu right now, if you opt for a vaccine, Hill recommends getting it at a pharmacy rather than a doctors office. You’d rather go to a place where people who might have COVID arent hanging around, he says.
As for the pneumococcal vaccine, Niederman recommends consulting your doctor beforehand to make sure youll be getting the one thats most appropriate for you and at the right time. And if you get the vaccine, do so at a pharmacy.
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What Are Risk Factors For Developing Covid
Factors that can increase the risk of developing COVID-19 pneumonia include:
- Disease severity: More severe cases are more likely to cause lung complications.
- Treatment: Prompt, quality treatment of COVID-19 can help minimize the risk of lung damage.
- Medical conditions: People with certain medical conditions are at higher risk of developing pneumonia with COVID-19:
Although anyone can get COVID-19, people with the following risk factors have a greater chance of developing pneumonia as a complication:
- Age over 65
- Conditions that compromise the immune system such as AIDS and cancers
- Taking cancer medications or steroids
Even if you do not have the risk factors listed above, it is important to exercise caution and practice safety measures to protect yourself against COVID-19.
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What Are The Main Differences Between Bacterial And Viral Pneumonia
Common symptoms of pneumonia include3
- difficulty breathing
- increased breathing rate
When a patient presents with these symptoms, the next step is to examine the lungs with a stethoscope. With pneumonia, decreased breath sounds, wheezing, or crackles on listening to the lungs, are all indications that can help point towards a diagnosis. The next step is to order a radiograph or X-ray if pneumonia is suspected.
The radiograph still remains the reference standard for a medical diagnosis of pneumonia, and also helps to differentiate between bacterial and viral pneumonia. However, a combination of clinical symptoms, exam findings, and imaging is the best way to uncover the most likely culprit.3,4
What Are The Treatments For Pneumonia
Treatment for pneumonia depends on the type of pneumonia, which germ is causing it, and how severe it is:
- Antibiotics treat bacterial pneumonia and some types of fungal pneumonia. They do not work for viral pneumonia.
- In some cases, your provider may prescribe antiviral medicines for viral pneumonia
- Antifungal medicines treat other types of fungal pneumonia
You may need to be treated in a hospital if your symptoms are severe or if you are at risk for complications. While there, you may get additional treatments. For example, if your blood oxygen level is low, you may receive oxygen therapy.
It may take time to recover from pneumonia. Some people feel better within a week. For other people, it can take a month or more.
What Increases Your Risk
You are more likely to get pneumonia if you:
- Smoke. Cigarette smoking is a strong risk factor for pneumonia in healthy young people.
- Have another medical condition, especially lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma.
- Are younger than 1 year of age or older than 65.
- Have an impaired immune system.
- Take medicine called a proton pump inhibitor that reduces the amount of stomach acid.footnote 3, footnote 4
- Drink excessive amounts of alcohol.
- Recently had a cold or the flu.
You are more likely to have complications of pneumonia and need to go to the hospital if you:
- Are older than 65.
- Have some other illness , or have gone to the hospital for a medical problem within the last 3 months.
- Have had your spleen removed or do not have a working spleen .
- Have an alcohol use problem.
- Have a weak immune system.
- Reside in a place where people live close together, such as a university dorm or nursing home.
How Is It Diagnosed
Your doctor might be able to tell if you have viral pneumonia just by examining you and asking questions about your symptoms and general health. Chances are your doctor will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope. Thatâs because certain sounds can mean fluid is in your lungs. But if your doctor isnât sure, you might have to get a chest X-ray.
Some people might need extra tests. These might include:
- A pulse oximetry
- Tests of the gunk you cough up
- CT scan to look more closely at your lungs
- A pleural fluid culture
- Bronchoscopy — a look into your lungs through a scope
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Cough And Cold Medicines
Be careful with cough and cold medicines. They may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems, so check the label first. If you do use these medicines, always follow the directions about how much to use based on age and weight.
Always check to see if any over-the-counter cough or cold medicines you are taking contain acetaminophen. If they do, make sure the acetaminophen you are taking in your cold medicine plus any other acetaminophen you may be taking is not higher than the daily recommended dose. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how much you can take every day.
Pneumonia Treatments And Covid
According to the World Health Organization , bacterial pneumonia should be treated with antibiotics, which are usually prescribed at a health center.
If your symptoms are severe, it is important that you call your healthcare provideror seek immediate helpto get the proper treatment. Severe symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Bluish color in your lips or fingertips
- A high fever
- Cough with mucus that is severe or worsening
Although COVID-19 is caused by a virus, people with the illness can still develop a superinfection, which is a reinfection or secondary infection caused by bacteria. If this happens, antibiotics will be given to the patient. In order to prevent antibiotic resistance, when antibiotics become useless against bacteria, some researchers have suggested following antimicrobial stewardship principles .
Moreover, because severe cases of pneumonia may require treatment at a hospital, healthcare providers must consider the chance that a patient may acquire coinfections in hospitals. So, to be safe and not add to superinfection among hospitalized patients, antibiotics are warranted.
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Are Some People More Likely To Have Serious Effects From Pneumonia
The people who are most at risk from a serious pneumonia are older adults and people with underlying health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, and anyone with a suppressed immune system. In the CDCs most recent data, people ages 85 and older faced the greatest risk of dying from COVID-19 .
Its important to note that pneumonia isnt the only potentially severe complication of COVID-19. Also possible are , organ damage, and a condition called acute respiratory distress syndrome , which occurs when fluid collects in the lungs. People with ARDS often need the assistance of ventilators in order to breathe. All these complications are more likely in people in high-risk categories.
What Can I Do To Feel Better If I Have Pneumonia
- Finish all medications and therapies prescribed by your doctor. Do not stop taking antibiotics when you start feeling better. Continue taking them until no pills remain. If you dont take all your antibiotics, your pneumonia may come back.
- If over-the-counter medicines to reduce fever have been recommended , take as directed on the label. Never give aspirin to children.
- Drink plenty of fluids to help loosen phlegm.
- Quit smoking if you smoke. Dont be around others who smoke or vape. Surround yourself with as much clean, chemical-free air as possible.
- Use a humidifier, take a steamy shower or bath to make it easier for you to breathe.
- Get lots of rest. Dont rush your recovery. It can take weeks to get your full strength back.
If at any time you start to feel worse, call your doctor right away.
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How Can I Tell If I Have Pneumonia Versus The Common Cold Or The Flu
Do I have a cold or could it be the flu or even pneumonia? Its tough to tell the difference but critical to know when to seek medical care
Watch for these ongoing symptoms that occur in pneumonia:
- Serious congestion or chest pain.
- Difficulty breathing.
- A fever of 102 or higher.
- Coughing that produces pus.
Pneumonia symptoms last longer than cold and flu. If your symptoms arent severe, its okay to try such home remedies as getting more rest, drinking more fluids and taking some over-the-counter medicines and see what happens. But if you dont see improvement in your symptoms after three to five days, or if you are experiencing more serious symptoms such as dizziness or severe difficulty breathing, see your healthcare provider. Dont let it go. Pneumonia-like symptoms in very young children or in adults older than 65 are a cause for concern. Also, pneumonia can cause permanent lung damage if left untreated for too long. And always seek immediate care if you experience chest pain or have breathing difficulties.
Besides Vaccination What Else Can I Do To Prevent Bacterial And Viral Pneumonia
Receiving all recommended vaccinations is one of the best ways to prevent pneumonia. Additionally, there are several other ways to prevent pneumonia, including:
- Quitting smoking, and avoiding secondhand smoke. Smoking damages your lungs.
- Washing your hands before eating, before handling food, after using the restroom, and after being outside. If soap is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoiding being around people who are sick. Ask them to visit when they are feeling better.
- Not touching or sharing objects that are shared with others. Germs can be transferred from object to you if you touch your nose or mouth without washing or sanitizing your hands first.
- Eating a healthy diet, exercise, and get enough rest. Healthy habits keep your immune system strong.
- Getting treated for any other infections or health conditions you may have. These conditions could weaken your immune system, which could increase your chance of infections.
- Avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol.
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Am I More Likely To Get It
You have a higher chance of getting viral pneumonia if you:
- Are 65 or older
- Have chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease
- Are recovering from surgery
- Donât eat right or get enough vitamins and minerals
- Have another condition that weakens your bodyâs defenses
- Have leukemia, lymphoma, or severe kidney disease
Understanding Pneumonia A Dangerous Coronavirus Complication
Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.
Scientistsand the rest of usare learning more each day about COVID-19, the illness caused by the .
For those who come down with COVID-19, developing pneumonia is a common complication.
Pneumonia is essentially an infection of the lungs, says Nikita Desai, M.D., a pulmonary and critical care physician at Cleveland Clinic. Symptoms can include cough, shortness of breath, fever, malaise, chest pain, and the production of sputum, or phlegm.
Pneumonia is sometimes on the milder sidemeaning that you can still go about at least some of your daily activities, even though you may feel quite sick. This is sometimes called walking pneumonia, because you can walk around, Desai says.
In many instances, however, pneumonia is severe, sending people to the hospital, requiring the use of a ventilator, or even leading to death. COVID-19 aside, pneumonia generally sends more than 250,000 people to the hospital and kills about 50,000 each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We dont yet know what percentage of people with COVID-19 will go on to develop pneumonia, but we know that some have died as a result. We spoke with pulmonary medicine experts to find out what scientists currently understand about COVID-19-related pneumonia. Here, the answers to key questions.
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How Is Pneumonia Spread From Person To Person
Pneumonia is spread when droplets of fluid containing the pneumonia bacteria or virus are launched in the air when someone coughs or sneezes and then inhaled by others. You can also get pneumonia from touching an object previously touched by the person with pneumonia or touching a tissue used by the infected person and then touching your mouth or nose.
Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
An interprofessional team of healthcare workers manages viral pneumonia. While physicians may treat the infection, the role of the nurse and pharmacist are vital for prevention. The patient should be urged to get the annual influenza vaccine, as this can lower the morbidity and mortality. Pharmacists review prescriptions for dose and interactions and educate patients about side effects and the importance of compliance. All patients should be urged to quit smoking and abstain from alcohol. Further, patients should be educated about hand and personal hygiene to prevent transmission of the virus to others. Patients who are immunocompromised should be educated about the symptoms of pneumonia and when to seek medical care. Finally, patients should be urged to lead a healthy lifestyle, eat healthily, and exercise regularly. Close communication between the interprofessional team is essential if one wants to improve outcomes.
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How Might I Know If I Have Pneumonia
Doctors usually diagnose pneumonia by evaluating your symptomsand by taking an X-ray of your chest. An X-ray is critical in diagnosing pneumonia, according to Nicholas Hill, M.D., chief of the division of pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and a past president of the American Thoracic Society. We often see what we call infiltrates, abnormal shadows that indicate the presence of a pneumonia, he says.
A doctor may also listen to your breathing for the crackling sounds of fluid in your lungs, which can occur because of inflammation from infection, he says.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Pneumonia In Children
The signs and symptoms of pneumonia in children vary from child to child and also depend on your childs age, cause of the infection, and severity of their illness.
Usual symptoms include:
- Cry more than usual. Are restless or more fussy.
Adolescents have the same symptoms as adults, including:
- Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath.
- Chest pain.
Newborns are at greater risk of pneumonia caused by bacteria present in the birth canal. In young children, viruses are the main cause of pneumonia.
Pneumonia caused by bacteria tends to happen suddenly, starting with fever and fast breathing. Symptoms appear more slowly and tend to be less severe when pneumonia is caused by viruses.
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