Flu Vs Pneumonia: Only A Test Will Tell For Sure
One of the challenges with flu vs pneumonia is that we simply cannot diagnose ourselves. Most people have had this experience at least once in their lifetimes, feeling certain that it is just a little cold but then testing positive for something else at a physicians office, like strep throat.
When a sickness lingers, and we do not get the proper testing, we may also be treating the sickness with the wrong over-the-counter medication and even prolonging its course.
A physician can use a rapid flu test to determine if you have the flu or if there is a large influenza outbreak in your area she may be confident in diagnosing it based on your physical symptoms. The test is simple enough: your physician will run a cotton swab up your nostril and have results back in approximately 15 minutes.
Pneumonia, on the other hand, has a wider variety of tests. For example, if your doctor suspects the possibility of pneumonia, she may order a chest x-ray, a blood test, or a sputum test . There is also a pulse oximetry test to check the oxygen level in your blood.
Where To Get The Flu Vaccine
You can have your NHS flu vaccine at:
- your GP surgery
- a local pharmacy offering the service
- your midwifery service if they offer it for pregnant women
Some community pharmacies now offer flu vaccination to adults at risk from flu, including pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, people with long-term health conditions and carers.
If you have your flu vaccine at a pharmacy, you do not have to inform a GP. Its up to the pharmacist to do that.
What To Do If You Suspect You Have Flu:
Many Flu symptoms are similar to those of Covid-19 and therefore it is important to isolate yourself and get a Covid-19 test. Assume you are Covid positive, until proven otherwise.
There is no need to visit your GP if you are suffering from flu as there is nothing they can do to help you fight it. However, if you develop complications or are seriously worried please phone the surgery and get additional medical advice.
The key advice to recover as quickly as possible is:
- Rest and sleep
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat aches and pains as well as lower your temperature.
- Drink plenty of water and avoid dehydration
Pharmacists can give treatment advice and recommend flu remedies that can help you to feel better.
Read our ultimate flu survival guide here.
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How Does The Pneumonia Vaccine Work
There are currently two vaccines administered in the United States:
When To Get The Vaccine
Thereâs no such thing as pneumonia season, like flu season. If you and your doctor decide that you need to have a pneumonia vaccine, you can get it done at any time of the year. If itâs flu season, you can even get a pneumonia vaccine at the same time that you get a flu vaccine, as long as you receive each shot in a different arm.
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Administration With Other Vaccines
Never administer PCV13 and PPSV23 during the same visit. If a patient needs both vaccines, you should administer PCV13 first, followed by PPSV23 at another visit. The interval between administrations depends on the age of the patient, the indication for giving it, and which vaccine you administer first. See the table below for additional information.
* Medical conditions include cochlear implants, cerebrospinal fluid leaks, functional or anatomic asplenia, and immunocompromising conditions like HIV infection, cancer, or chronic renal failure.
What Is Flu And The Flu Vaccine
Flu vaccination is available every year on the NHS to help protect adults and children at risk from flu and its complications.
Flu is extremely unpleasant and debilitating and considerably more than a severe cold, but if youre otherwise healthy, itll usually clear up on its own in about a week.
But flu can be more severe in certain people, such as:
- anyone aged 65 and over
- pregnant women
- children and adults with an underlying health condition
- children and adults with weak immune systems
Anyone in these risk groups is more likely to develop potentially serious complications of flu, such as pneumonia , so they should have a flu vaccine every year to help protect them.
This autumn, people aged 50-64 may get the flu vaccine for free if they have any left. Do not hesitate in getting the flu jab if you are able and eligible to do so. However, you can go privately and pay for the vaccine, so please dont wait for the free offer if you are able to afford it.
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Treatment Of Bacterial And Viral Infections
Bacterial infections are most often treated with antibiotics, which are medications that prevent bacterial growth or kill them. Antibiotics do not work on viral infections.
Self-care such as getting enough rest and fluids and using over-the-counter medications for symptoms may be appropriate in mild cases of the common cold and flu.
People who are at high risk for complications from influenza may be treated by their healthcare provider with antiviral drugs.
Severe respiratory infections may require more extensive treatment, which could include hospitalization.
Understanding The Differences Between Bacterial And Viral Infections
Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease caused by the influenza A, B, or C virus. Influenza viruses are airborne and affect the nose, throat, and lungs.
Not all illnesses are caused by viruses. Some such as bacterial pneumonia can cause flu-like symptoms but are caused by bacteria. However, the flu can lead to bacterial infections as a person’s natural defenses may be weakened during an infection.
Infections that occur shortly after the primary infection are called secondary infections. In this article, we will cover the differences between bacterial and viral infections.
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How Quickly Did Your Symptoms Show Up
Its very common for flu symptomsfever, muscle aches, stuffy nose, sore throat, etc.to arrive so suddenly that its possible to pinpoint the exact moment all your misery began, says Kimberly Brown, MD, MPH, an emergency medicine doctor in Memphis.
Pneumonia, in contrast, typically has a less dramatic entry, with symptoms ramping up over several days, says Dr. Lovell.
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Common Senseand Vaccinationsare The Best Prevention Tactics
The flu is one of the viruses that can cause pneumonia, says Dr. Lovell. Heres why: All of those secretions from your stuffy nose, combined with the dehydration that often accompanies the flu, create an environment where bacteria can multiply too fast for your body to defeat, potentially leading to bacterial pneumonia, explains Dr. Scott.
If you didnt get a flu shot yet, head to the doctors office or pharmacy stat. Vaccinations for both the flu and pneumonia save lives and decrease hospitalizations, says Dr. Lovell.
For healthy people, a flu shot reduces your chances of getting the flu, says Dr. Scott. And while its still possible to get the flu even after a vaccination, the shot will lessen both symptoms and how long the flu lingers, Dr. Scott says. Vaccines can also help prevent the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia, says Dr. Lovell.
Along with getting vaccinated, consider having a hands-off policy during this germ-heavy season, avoiding hugs and handshakes, says Dr. Scott, and wash your hands frequently . This will help you avoid getting sick. Wipe down potentially germ-covered surfaces at home and work, says Dr. Brown. And, adds Dr. Lovell: Drink lots of water and maintain good nutrition.
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Who Should Get Pneumococcal Vaccines
CDC recommends pneumococcal vaccination for all children younger than 2 years old and all adults 65 years or older. In certain situations, older children and other adults should also get pneumococcal vaccines. Below is more information about who should and should not get each type of pneumococcal vaccine.
Talk to your or your childs doctor about what is best for your specific situation.
Influenza Vaccination For Pregnant Women
- Women who are or will be pregnant during influenza season should receive inactivated influenza vaccine . Live attenuated influenza vaccine is not recommended for use during pregnancy.
- Postpartum women can receive either LAIV or IIV.
- Pregnant and postpartum women do not need to avoid contact with persons recently vaccinated with LAIV.
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Data Collection And Cap Diagnosis
Data were derived from a multicentre observational study initiated by the German competence network for CAP , which is funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research . Details of this prospective observational study have been presented previously . The study design was approved by the local Ethics Committees in Berlin, Bochum, Hanover, Cologne/Bonn, Leipzig, Lübeck, Lüdenscheid, Mageburg, Rotenburg, Ulm and Würzburg . All patients gave written informed consent and received a pseudonym from an independent third party to ensure data safety. Data collection was performed prospectively based on a standard protocol starting in July 2002 and was censored for this analysis in December 2006. Data validity and consistency checks were performed by an independent party prior to data analysis.
CAP was diagnosed in patients aged 18 yrs who presented with a new pulmonary infiltrate on a chest radiograph, together with a history of fever and at least one symptom or sign of lower respiratory tract infection . Patients were excluded if they had been hospitalised during the previous 28 days or if they were chronically immunosuppressed . All patients were assessed at the first presentation. Demographic parameters, vital signs, clinical symptoms, laboratory and radiological findings and therapy data were recorded.
How Long Does A Pneumonia Shot Last
Streptococcus pneumoniaevaccinepneumoniaStreptococcus pneumoniae
- Younger than 2 years old: four shots
- 65 years old or older: two shots, which will last you the rest of your life
- Between 2 and 64 years old: between one and three shots if you have certain immune system disorders or if youre a smoker
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Who Should Have The Pneumococcal Vaccine
Anyone can get a pneumococcal infection. But some people are at higher risk of serious illness, so it’s recommended they’re given the pneumococcal vaccination on the NHS.
- adults aged 65 or over
- children and adults with certain long-term health conditions, such as a serious heart or kidney condition
Babies are offered 2 doses of pneumococcal vaccine, at 12 weeks and at 1 year of age.
People aged 65 and over only need a single pneumococcal vaccination. This vaccine is not given annually like the flu jab.
If you have a long-term health condition you may only need a single, one-off pneumococcal vaccination, or a vaccination every 5 years, depending on your underlying health problem.
What Is The Pneumonia Vaccine
The pneumococcal vaccine protects against serious and potentially fatal pneumococcal infections. Its also known as the pneumonia vaccine.
Pneumococcal infections are from a bacteria, Streptococcus pneumoniae, which mostly lives harmlessly in the back of the nose and throat. However, it can lead to pneumonia, septicaemia and meningitis.
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Common Viral Infections And Their Symptoms
The severity of viral infections can also vary widely and depends on the type of virus involved. Common viral respiratory infections and their symptoms include:
- The common cold:Typically caused by rhinoviruses and some coronaviruses. The common cold is usually mild and can include coughing, sore throat, sneezing, runny and stuffy nose.
- Influenza :The flu is commonly caused by type A and B influenza strains. Symptoms are typically more severe than the common cold and can include coughing, fever , muscle aches, shortness of breath, and more.
- COVID-19: Caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, symptoms include fever, dry cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath, loss of sense of smell and taste, fatigue, and more.
- Viral pneumonia: This viral lung infection can be caused by viruses including coronaviruses, adenoviruses, influenza virus, parainfluenza virus, varicella-zoster virus, and respiratory syncytial virus . Symptoms include cough, difficulty breathing, increased breathing rate, and fever.
The Different Types Of Pneumococcal Vaccine
The type of pneumococcal vaccine you’re given depends on your age and health. There are 2 types.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is used to vaccinate children under 2 years old as part of the NHS vaccination schedule. It’s known by the brand name Prevenar 13.
Children at risk of pneumococcal infections can have the PPV vaccine from the age of 2 years onwards. The PPV vaccine is not very effective in children under the age of 2.
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What Does Your Doctor Say
Seeing tons of patients gives doctors a knack for knowing which disease is which. Sometimes patients come in and they just look like the flu, says Dr. Brownthe air of misery, along with the runny nose, is a giveaway even before she asks about symptoms.
Doctors also use diagnostic tools. Listening to the lungs or taking a chest X-ray can reveal signs of pneumonia.
There is a nasal swab test that can determine if you have the actual flu virus, says Dr. Scott.
When it comes to viruseseither viral pneumonia or the flutheres not much doctors can do to help, with one big exception. If you have the flu, and get to the doctor right after you notice your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medicationlike Tamifluto lessen the course and severity of symptoms, says Dr. Scott.
The catch? Antivirals are only effective if you use them ASAPwithin one to two days of the onset of symptoms. And taking Tamiflu isnt necessarily a pleasant experience side effects can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dizziness. The side effects may be worse than your actual flu symptoms! says Dr. Brown.
Even if you miss the window for antivirals, its still worth it to get a diagnosis, says Dr. Scott. A doctors visit is an opportunity to rule out complications of the flu or the possibility you have another disease , he says. And, if you have vulnerable members in your homelike an elderly person, for instancethey might want to take Tamiflu as a preventive measure, he says.
Do I Have To Wait Between Getting The Influenza And Covid
COVID-19 vaccines can be co-administered with an influenza vaccine.
Studies show that co-administration of COVID-19 and influenza vaccines is safe and produces a good immune response.
The COVID-19 vaccinedoes not protect against theflu, so you should still have your annual flu shot.
Speak with your usual health care provider to see if this is right for you.
With new COVID-19 vaccine developments every day, its normal to have questions or concerns, and possibly feel hesitant about getting a vaccine. That’s why we’re providing accurate, evidence-based answers to questions about COVID-19 vaccines.
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Number And Timing Of Doses
Vaccinate all children younger than 2 years old with PCV13. The primary series consists of 3 doses routinely given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. You can administer the first dose as early as 6 weeks of age. CDC recommends a fourth dose at 12 through 15 months of age. For children vaccinated when they are younger than 12 months of age, the minimum interval between doses is 4 weeks. Separate doses given at 12 months of age and older by at least 8 weeks.
The number and timing of doses for older children and adults depends on the medical indication, prior pneumococcal vaccination, and age. See Pneumococcal Vaccination: Summary of Who and When to Vaccinate for all pneumococcal vaccine recommendations by vaccine and age.
Summarizes how to implement adult pneumococcal vaccination recommendations.
When In Doubt Call The Doctor
Still worried and wondering? Because flu, RSV and pneumonia symptoms can overlap, diagnosis is tricky, Dr. Sniderman says. So dont feel as though you need to diagnose your child on your own.
If your child is feeling ill and you are worried about them, you should call their doctor, she says. Thats what were here for.
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How To Spot Key Differences Between Flu And Pneumonia
While the aforementioned tests and an evaluation by a physician are the only way to determine with certainty if you have the flu or pneumonia , there are indeed some ways you can make an educated guess by looking at symptoms and considering your overall health, your age, and any complications or risk factors.
The first and perhaps most important point to note is that it is extremely rare for healthy adults to have pneumonia. If you fall in the healthy adults category, you are more than likely experiencing the flu or some other type of virus.
That said, it is not out of the realm of possibility to have pneumonia, so we will take a look at the symptoms below to compare the two.
Why Is It Important To Protect Yourself This Year Particularly
Coronavirus has recently seen a spike once more, raising fears the UK is dangling on the precipice of a second wave. Incoming cold weather could mean both diseases spread with ease, causing a double assault which could come with devastating consequences. Therefore, protecting yourself with a vaccine could help take the pressure off the NHS if Covid-19 hospital admissions do go up.
It is important to note that the pneumonia vaccine does not provide any protection against the COVID-19 virus, and vaccine trials for coronavirus are currently ongoing.
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