What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Bacterial Versus Viral Pneumonia In Adults
Symptoms of pneumonia can range from mild sometimes called walking pneumonia to severe. How serious your case of pneumonia depends on the particular germ causing pneumonia, your overall health, and your age.
Bacterial pneumonia: Symptoms of bacterial pneumonia can develop gradually or suddenly. Symptoms include:
- High fever
Additional symptoms appearing about a day later include:
- Higher fever
- Shortness of breath
Bacterial Vs Viral Pneumonia Symptoms
Bacteria and viruses are the most common causes of pneumonia. Fungi and parasites can sometimes cause it.
When the cause is bacteria, the illness can come on either slowly or quickly. It tends to be more serious than other types.
When a virus causes your pneumonia, youâre more likely to notice symptoms over several days. Early signs will look like the flu — such as fever, dry cough, headache, and weakness — but get worse in a day or two.
Whats The Outlook For People With Pneumonia
The time that it takes to recover from pneumonia can vary by individual. Some may find that they can go back to their normal routine in about a week. Others may need some additional time to recover. Sometimes tiredness and fatigue can linger for several weeks.
Illness may also be more severe in at-risk groups like young children, older adults, and people with underlying conditions. These groups often require hospitalization and close monitoring through their treatment and recovery.
What about the different causes of pneumonia? The time until symptoms improve can also depend on whats causing your infection.
In bacterial pneumonia, you may begin to feel better after several days of antibiotic treatment. Viral pneumonia typically improves in while fungal pneumonia may require taking antifungal medications for weeks or even months.
what to do while recovering
Remember, the germs that cause pneumonia can be contagious. While youre recovering, be sure to do the following:
- limit contact with others
- cover your nose and mouth when you cough
- wash your hands frequently
- throw away any used tissues promptly in a covered container
Be sure to speak to your doctor about when you can go back to your normal activities. Your doctor may also want to schedule a follow-up chest X-ray to make sure that your infection has completely cleared.
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When Can I Return To Work School And Regular Activities If I Have Pneumonia
You typically can resume your normal activities if your symptoms are gone, mild or improving and you do not have new or worsening:
- Shortness of breath or tiredness
- Chest pain
- Mucus, fever or cough
If you are generally healthy, most people feel well enough to return to previous activities in about a week. However, it may take about a month to feel totally back to normal.
Key Points About Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an infection of one or both of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
There are more than 30 different causes of pneumonia, and theyre grouped by the cause. The main types of pneumonia are bacterial, viral, and mycoplasma pneumonia.
A cough that produces green, yellow, or bloody mucus is the most common symptom of pneumonia. Other symptoms include fever, shaking chills, shortness of breath, low energy, and extreme tiredness.
Pneumonia can often be diagnosed with a thorough history and physical exam. Tests used to look at the lungs, blood tests, and tests done on the sputum you cough up may also be used.
Treatment depends on the type of pneumonia you have. Antibiotics are used for bacterial pneumonia. It may also speed recovery from mycoplasma pneumonia and some special cases. Most viral pneumonias dont have a specific treatment and just get better on their own. Other treatment may include a healthy diet, more fluids, rest, oxygen therapy, and medicine for pain, cough, and fever control.
Most people with pneumonia respond well to treatment, but pneumonia can cause serious lung and infection problems. It can even be deadly.
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The Fever That’s So Common With Covid
A fever is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Symptoms typically appear between two to 14 days after exposure to the virus, and while the fever may not set in right away, it can feel relentless once it does. Just how long can you expect to feel feverish? There are no clear-cut answers, but “a small study from China found a fever from COVID-19 lasted an average of eight to 11 days,” Natasha Bhuyan, MD, a family practitioner and regional medical director of One Medical, told POPSUGAR. “Of course, in some people a fever can be shorter, while in others, it might be longer.”
David Cutler, MD, a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, explained that a week on average is a pretty safe estimate. “Fever, cough, and shortness of breath as well as a variety of other symptoms often attributed to viral infections will go on for about a week,” he said, though some will feel sick longer. “It is believed you are no longer infectious seven days after the onset of symptoms, as long as you have been without fever for at least three days.” The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention notes that your temperature should remain normal for 72 hours without the help of a fever reducer, and any other symptoms should also improve before you leave isolation.
How Does Pneumonia Occur
It occurs during the course of any normal cough or cold. The mucus secreted in the lungs is a great breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. Over several days, the germs multiply enough to create an infected pocket of mucus and pus. That is why our lungs are designed to cough during an illness to cough out the pockets of mucus before an infection sets in.
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Spreading Pneumonia To Others
If your pneumonia is caused by a virus or bacteria, you may spread the infection to other people while you are contagious. How long you are contagious depends on what is causing the pneumonia and whether you get treatment. You may be contagious for several days to a week.
If you get antibiotics, you usually cannot spread the infection to others after a day of treatment.
When To Go To Urgent Care
If youre exhibiting one or more of the symptoms above, visit your primary care physician as soon as possible. As with most infections and medical conditions, the earlier it is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. Go to your local urgent care center immediately if you have symptoms of mild to moderate:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
Anyone with severe symptoms of pneumonia should go to their nearest emergency room for immediate treatment, particularly the following groups of people:
- Infants and small children
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Dr Sears Guide To Identifying If Your Child Could Have Pneumonia
Your child has been coughing for several days. The cough then becomes deeper and junkier, and he starts having fevers. He are up all night, and cough medicine doesnt seem to be helping. You begin to worry, Could my child have pneumonia?
You hear a child at school was diagnosed with pneumonia. Your own child has had a bit of a cough lately. You wonder just how contagious is pneumonia? Could your child have it?
These are very common situations. There is really no good way for any parent to tell if their child has pneumonia. However, there are many ways to tell if your child probably does NOT have pneumonia. Here is the Dr. Sears guide.
What Are The Treatments
- Antibiotics these are usually used to help fight the bacterial infection. However, some pneumonia is caused by a virus, in which case antibiotics are not helpful. Only your doctor can decide if it is bacterial or viral.
- Chest pounding therapy this is VERY IMPORTANT. Four to six times each day, take your child into the bathroom with the hot shower on and let him breathe the steam for 10 minutes. Use your cupped hand to firmly clap on your childs chest, concentrating on the area that the pneumonia is. Pound rapidly for one minute, then rest a minute, then continue again on and off for ten minutes. This will shake the mucus and pus pocket loose so your child can cough it up. Encourage coughing during this time.
- Cough medicine do not suppress the cough during the day. Your child needs to cough it up. You can use an expectorant during the day. At night you can use a combination expectorant and cough suppressant if your child is coughing a lot. If the cough is not too frequent, then dont use a suppressant.Click for more help with cough medicines
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When To See A Healthcare Provider
Anytime youre experiencing a fever and respiratory symptoms that last a few days or longer, its a good idea to reach out to your healthcare provider. They can help you rule out serious issues like a bacterial infection and guide you toward home remedies that can help alleviate symptoms.
If you are experiencing respiratory symptoms and have a fever of 101 F or higher, its important to see a practitioner. A high fever can indicate a bacterial infection, which can develop after youve had a viral infection.
In addition, you should see a medical provider if:
- Youre coughing up green or yellow mucus .
- You have trouble breathing.
- You have an underlying lung condition such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .
As always, if youre having trouble breathing or having chest pain that you find concerning, call 911 or seek emergency care immediately.
How Do The Lungs Work
Your lungs main job is to get oxygen into your blood and remove carbon dioxide. This happens during breathing. You breathe 12 to 20 times per minute when you are not sick. When you breathe in, air travels down the back of your throat and passes through your voice box and into your windpipe . Your trachea splits into two air passages . One bronchial tube leads to the left lung, the other to the right lung. For the lungs to perform their best, the airways need to be open as you breathe in and out. Swelling and mucus can make it harder to move air through the airways, making it harder to breathe. This leads to shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and feeling more tired than normal.
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A Prompt Diagnosis For Proper Treatment
If you suspect your loved one may have pneumonia, you should call a doctor right away. Earlier diagnosis can lead to faster treatment that promotes better outcomes especially for seniors who are at a higher risk of developing serious complications.
A doctor will conduct a physical exam and may order imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment will depend on whether the pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses, or other types of infection.
Bacterial pneumonia comes on gradually or suddenly and is typically treated with antibiotics.
Viral pneumonia usually develops over several days and may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, so viral pneumonia is generally treated with supportive care such as increased fluid intake, over-the-counter medications, and rest.
Older adults who experience severe pneumonia symptoms or have other health problems may need to be hospitalized. While in the hospital, treatment may include intravenous antibiotics, respiratory therapy, and oxygen therapy. Doctors will also watch for signs of complications.
When Would I Need To Be Hospitalized For Pneumonia
If your case of pneumonia is more severe, you may need tostay in the hospital for treatment. Hospital treatments may include:
- Fluids, antibiotics and other medicines given through an IV
- Breathing treatments and exercises to help loosen mucus
People most likely to be hospitalized are those who are most frail and/or at increased risk, including:
- Babies and young children
- People with weakened immune systems
- People with health conditions that affect the heart and lungs
It may take six to eight weeks to return to a normal level of functioning and well-being if youve been hospitalized with pneumonia.
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Can Pneumonia Be Prevented Or Avoided
There are many factors that can raise your risk for developing pneumonia. These include:
People who have any of the following conditions are also at increased risk:
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- sickle cell disease
You can help prevent pneumonia by doing the following:
- Get the flu vaccine each year. People can develop bacterial pneumonia after a case of the flu. You can reduce this risk by getting the yearly flu shot.
- Get the pneumococcal vaccine. This helps prevent pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria.
- Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Dont smoke. Smoking damages your lungs and makes it harder for your body to defend itself from germs and disease. If you smoke, talk to your family doctor about quitting as soon as possible.
- Practice a healthy lifestyle. Eat a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables. Exercise regularly. Get plenty of sleep. These things help your immune system stay strong.
- Avoid sick people. Being around people who are sick increases your risk of catching what they have.
When To Call Your Healthcare Provider Or 911
Its important to be vigilant about how you feel if you suspect you have pneumonia or have been diagnosed with it. Let your healthcare provider know if you experience:
- Chronic shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
- Persistent fever with heavy mucus production
- Unusually severe fatigue
In some cases, pneumonia can become dangerous and even lead to a medical emergency. Call 911 when you have:
- Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties even at rest
- Chest pain and discomfort that gets worse
- Confusion or cognitive difficulties
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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.
What Can I Do At Home To Feel Better
In addition to taking any antibiotics and/or medicine your doctor prescribes, you should also:
- Get lots of rest. Rest will help your body fight the infection.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Fluids will keep you hydrated. They can help loosen the mucus in your lungs. Try water, warm tea, and clear soups.
- Stop smoking if you smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. Smoke can make your symptoms worse. Smoking also increases your risk of developing pneumonia and other lung problems in the future. You should also avoid lit fireplaces or other areas where the air may not be clean.
- Stay home from school or work until your symptoms go away. This usually means waiting until your fever breaks and you arent coughing up mucus. Ask your doctor when its okay for you to return to school or work.
- Use a cool-mist humidifier or take a warm bath. This will help clear your lungs and make it easier for you to breathe.
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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.
Are There Treatments For Covid
Pneumonia may need treatment in a hospital with oxygen, a ventilator to help you breathe, and intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration.
Clinical trials are looking into whether some drugs and treatments used for other conditions might treat severe COVID-19 or related pneumonia, including dexamethasone, a corticosteroid.
The FDA has approved the antiviral remdesivir for treatment of patients hospitalized with COVID. The drug was origininally developed to treat the Ebola virus.
The agency rescinded an emergency use authorization for the anti-malarials chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine amid serious concerns about their safety and how well they worked against the virus.
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