Symptoms That Differentiate Pneumonia From The Common Cold2
When you are looking at the signs and symptoms of pneumonia versus a cold, it is helpful to look at duration, severity and types of symptoms. Unlike pneumonia, cold symptoms often do not require that you stay home sick, and generally, the symptoms of a cold are not severe enough to warrant a call to your doctor. If your symptoms last longer than 10 days, come on suddenly and/or grow increasingly severe, you should contact your physician as soon as possible as you may have pneumonia. After reviewing the following 12 signs and symptoms of pneumonia, it should be easier for you to differentiate it from the symptoms of a common cold.So what does pneumonia feel like?
- Fever, often high
- Shivering that may be accompanied by teeth-chattering chills
- Cough that is likely to be worse than the mild cough you may experience with a cold
- Mucus that may be rusty, green or blood-tinged
- Shortness of breath
- Vomiting, especially in small children
- Confusion, particularly in older people
- Sharp pain in the chest that worsens when you take a deep breath or cough
How Long Does It Last
It takes a certain amount of time to start to feel sick after getting exposed to a germ. This length of time is called the incubation period, and it depends on many things, especially which bug is causing the illness.
With influenza pneumonia, for example, someone may become sick as soon as 12 hours or as long as 3 days after exposure to the flu virus. But with walking pneumonia, a person may not feel it until 2 to 3 weeks after becoming infected.
Most types of pneumonia clear up within a week or two, although a cough can linger for several weeks more. In severe cases, it may take longer to completely recover.
What To Expect At Home
You will still have symptoms of pneumonia after you leave the hospital.
- Your cough will slowly get better over 7 to 14 days.
- Sleeping and eating may take up to a week to return to normal.
- Your energy level may take 2 weeks or more to return to normal.
You will need to take time off work. For a while, you might not be able to do other things that you are used to doing.
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Does Bronchitis Cause A Fever
Bronchitis is a condition characterized by swelling and inflammation in the tubes that carry air to your lungs, known as the bronchi. Some types of bronchitis cause a low-grade fever.
Acute bronchitis is inflammation caused by an underlying infection, like a cold or the flu. Acute bronchitis can cause a fever. Chronic bronchitis, however, is inflammation that builds over time, most often due to smoking. If you have chronic bronchitis, youre unlikely to have a fever.
Heres what you should know about the types of bronchitis and what having a fever might tell you about your case.
How Long Could A Fever From Bronchitis Last
Even after youve seen a healthcare provider and started antibiotics, your fever might last for up to five days after treatment has started.
With a mild case of acute bronchitis, you may experience a low-grade fever, which is a temperature of 100.3 F or less.
In more severe cases, your fever might be higher, rising to 102 F.
Remember, not all people with acute bronchitis have a fever, and people with chronic bronchitis will not have a fever. If you think you have bronchitis but are not experiencing a fever, you may still want to contact your healthcare provider.
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How Is Pneumonia Treated
How pneumonia is treated depends on the germs that cause it.
- Bacterial pneumonia: Bacterial pneumonia is usually treated with antibiotics. The specific antibiotic choice depends on such factors as your general health, other health conditions you may have, the type of medications you are currently taking , your recent use of antibiotics, any evidence of antibiotic resistance in the local community and your age. Medicines to relieve pain and lower fever may also be helpful. Ask your doctor if you should take a cough suppressant. Its important to be able to cough to clear your lungs.
- Viral pneumonia: Antibiotics are not used to fight viruses. There are no treatments for most viral causes of pneumonia. However, if the flu virus is thought to be the cause, antiviral drugs might be prescribed, such as oseltamivir , zanamivir , or peramivir , to decrease the length and severity of the illness. Over-the-counter medicines to relieve pain and lower fever are usually recommended. Other medicines and therapies such as breathing treatments and exercises to loosen mucus may be prescribed by your doctor.
- Fungal pneumonia: Antifungal medication is prescribed if a fungus is the cause of your pneumonia.
What Are The Symptoms
Symptoms of pneumonia may include:
- Cough. You will likely cough up mucus from your lungs. Mucus may be rusty or green or tinged with blood.
- Fever, chills, and sweating.
- Feeling very tired or very weak.
When you have less severe symptoms, your doctor may call this “walking pneumonia.”
Older adults may have different, fewer, or milder symptoms. They may not have a fever. Or they may have a cough but not bring up mucus. The main sign of pneumonia in older adults may be a change in how well they think. Confusion or delirium is common. Or, if they already have a lung disease, that disease may get worse.
Symptoms caused by viruses are the same as those caused by bacteria. But they may come on slowly and often are not as obvious or as bad.
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When Should Someone Seek Medical Care For Bacterial Pneumonia
When to call the doctor
- If you have a fever and cough up yellow, green, or brown sputum, make an appointment with your doctor.
- If you have shortness of breath, chest pain, or confusion, you should seek emergency care.
- If you are healthy, you can safely make an appointment to see your doctor. It is best to contact your physician if you have concerns about possible pneumonia.
When to go to the hospital
- If you have shortness of breath, you should always seek emergency care. Shortness of breath is not simply the feeling that you can’t take a full breath shortness of breath means that you cannot take in enough air to meet your body’s needs. It is a potentially serious symptom and always requires a visit to an emergency department, no matter how healthy you are.
- If you have chest pain or confusion, you should seek emergency care.
- You are at higher risk of developing pneumonia if you have the following:
- a chronic health problem, such as diabetes
- a poor immune system because of HIV, AIDS, steroid use, or immune-suppressant medications
- diseased or damaged lungs, such as with asthma or emphysema
- are very young or very old
- or you have had your spleen removed.
Types Of Walking Pneumonia
Walking pneumonia is one of more than 30 different types of pneumonia. It can be divided into a few different subtypes, including:
This type of pneumonia tends to be mild, and most people recover without treatment. Its caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae . The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are about of M. pneumoniae infections each year in the United States.
This type of walking pneumonia is caused by Chlamydia pneumoniae bacteria. While it can cause a serious infection, most people experience only mild illness or no symptoms whatsoever. Its common among school-age children and young adults.
Legionnaires disease is one of the most serious types of walking pneumonia, as it can lead to both respiratory failure and death. Its caused by Legionella, a type of bacteria found in freshwater that can contaminate water systems in buildings. People can get this disease if they inhale airborne droplets of water that contain the bacteria.
Walking pneumonia symptoms are typically mild and look like the common cold. People may start noticing signs of walking pneumonia between 1 and 4 weeks of being exposed to the pathogen that caused the disease.
Symptoms of walking pneumonia can include:
- loss of appetite
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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.
In Older Adults And Children
Older adults may have different, fewer, or milder symptoms, such as having no fever or having a cough with no mucus . The major sign of pneumonia in older adults may be a change in how clearly they think or when a lung disease they already have gets worse.
In children, symptoms may depend on age:
- In infants younger than 1 month of age, symptoms may include having little or no energy , feeding poorly, grunting, or having a fever.
- In children, symptoms of pneumonia are often the same as in adults. Your doctor will look for signs such as a cough and a faster breathing rate.
Some conditions with symptoms similar to pneumonia include bronchitis, COPD, and tuberculosis.
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People Who Are At Risk For Having A Worse Outcome When Suffering From Pneumonia Without A Fever
People who have a defect in the 5th and 6th sequence of events are vulnerable to have pneumonia without a fever with a worse outcome.
There was an important research article published in the BMC Pulmonary Medicine Journal. They reviewed 1,834 patients hospitalized with pneumonia, and analyzed several factors to find out who did better and who did worse. One of the factors was the presence or absence of a fever. When they analyzed the data, it appeared that among hospitalized patients, those patients suffering from pneumonia without a fever seemed to have a worse outcome compared to pneumonia patients who had a fever.
Another medical review article analyzed the data from several clinical trials and patients diagnosed with sepsis and a fever and sepsis without a fever. These patients had several different types of infections, but all of them had sepsis. If you want to learn more about sepsis, you can read this article . To summarize it, sepsis is a condition where people get very sick and overwhelmed with an infection. They also found out that among sick patients with sepsis, those with a fever had a better outcome than those without a fever.
If you have a family member who is elderly and frail, you can not rely on the presence or absence of a fever to decide if they have pneumonia. If he or she appears weaker, sicker, or more confused than usual, you need to call his or her doctor and seek medical attention right away.
What Are The Signs Of Pneumonia In Children
When children have pneumonia, they can experience the same symptoms asadults including high fever, cough, difficulty breathing and pain in the chest,but they may also complain of stomach pain, ear pain, have a decreased appetiteand be more tired or irritable than usual. If a child has “walkingpneumonia” their symptoms may be milder and can appear like a cold. Someinfants may not appear to have any symptoms beyond being restless and adecreased appetite. In extreme cases of pneumonia, infants and small childrenmay have bluish fingernails, toenails, lips and mouth.
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Are Vaccines Available To Prevent Pneumonia
Yes, there are two types of vaccines specifically approved to prevent pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria. Similar to a flu shot, these vaccines wont protect against all types of pneumonia, but if you do come down with pneumonia, its less likely to be as severe or potentially life-threatening especially for people who are at increased risk for pneumonia.
- Bacterial pneumonia: Two pneumonia vaccines, Pneumovax23® and Prevnar13®, protect against the most common causes of bacterial pneumonia.
- Pneumovax23® protects against 23 different types of pneumococcal bacteria. It is recommended for all adults 65 years of age and older and children over 2 years of age who are at increased risk for pneumonia.
- Prevnar13® protects against 13 types of pneumonia bacteria. It is recommended for all adults 65 years of age and older and children under 2 years of age. Ask your healthcare provider about these vaccines.
If you have children, ask their doctor about other vaccines they should get. Several childhood vaccines help prevent infections caused by the bacteria and viruses that can lead to pneumonia.
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.
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Questions About Your Symptoms
Bacterial pneumonia, which is the most common form, tends to be more serious than other types of pneumonia, with symptoms that require medical care. The symptoms of bacterial pneumonia can develop gradually or suddenly. Fever may rise as high as a dangerous 105 degrees F, with profuse sweating and rapidly increased breathing and pulse rate. Lips and nailbeds may have a bluish color due to lack of oxygen in the blood. A patient’s mental state may be confused or delirious.
The symptoms of viral pneumonia usually develop over a period of several days. Early symptoms are similar to influenza symptoms: fever, a dry cough, headache, muscle pain, and weakness. Within a day or two, the symptoms typically get worse, with increasing cough, shortness of breath and muscle pain. There may be a high fever and there may be blueness of the lips.
Symptoms may vary in certain populations. Newborns and infants may not show any signs of the infection. Or, they may vomit, have a fever and cough, or appear restless, sick, or tired and without energy. Older adults and people who have serious illnesses or weak immune systems may have fewer and milder symptoms. They may even have a lower than normal temperature. Older adults who have pneumonia sometimes have sudden changes in mental awareness. For individuals that already have a chronic lung disease, those symptoms may worsen.
When to call a doctor
Complications And Risk Factors
Pneumonia can sometimes cause serious complications and become life-threatening. Potential complications can include:
- breathing difficulties or even respiratory failure, which can require being placed on a ventilator in order to get oxygen
- worsening of chronic lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- fluid accumulation in the lungs, which can become infected and may need to be drained
- lung abscess, which is the formation of a pocket of pus in your lung
- bacteremia, when bacteria spread into your bloodstream, possibly leading to
People that may be at risk for more serious symptoms or complications include:
- children under 2 years old
- adults over 65 years old
There are several types of pneumonia. They can be classified by how you get the infection.
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How Do You Get Pneumonia
You may get pneumonia:
- After you breathe infected air particles into your lungs.
- After you breathe certain bacteria from your nose and throat into your lungs.
- During or after a viral upper respiratory infection, such as a cold or influenza .
- As a complication of a viral illness, such as measles or chickenpox.
- If you breathe large amounts of food, gastric juices from the stomach, or vomit into the lungs . This can happen when you have had a medical condition that affects your ability to swallow, such as a seizure or a stroke.
A healthy person’s nose and throat often contain bacteria or viruses that cause pneumonia. Pneumonia can develop when these organisms spread to your lungs while your lungs are more likely to be infected. Examples of times when this can happen are during or soon after a cold or if you have a long-term illness, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .
You can get pneumonia in your daily life, such as at school or work or when you are in a hospital or nursing home . Treatment may differ in healthcare-associated pneumonia, because bacteria causing the infection in hospitals may be different from those causing it in the community. This topic focuses on community-associated pneumonia.