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 Is Walking Pneumonia Different
Walking pneumonia, also known as atypical pneumonia, is caused by mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria. It usually causes cold-like symptoms, in addition to a fever and a hacking cough. It is most common in school-aged children and young adults, says Annette Cameron, MD, a Yale Medicine pediatrician.
Because this type of pneumonia typically causes milder symptoms, it may go undiagnosed for a while, especially if the child is able to participate in normal activities and isnt as visibly sick as he or she would be with other forms of pneumonia. And thats why its called walking pneumonia, Dr. Cameron says. It might just be a little bit of malaise. Sometimes you can have community-acquired, or bacterial pneumonia, along with walking pneumonia, in which case we would just treat both of them.
Frequently Asked Questions: Pneumonia Or Cold
What does it feel like when you have pneumonia?
If you have had a cold and suddenly feel really and truly sick, you may wonder, What does pneumonia feel like? Generally speaking, pneumonia feels pretty awful, and the signs and symptoms of pneumonia usually tell you that something is definitely wrong. You will experience pain when you breathe or cough, fever and chills, significant fatigue and shortness of breath. Even if you have mild or walking pneumonia, you will still feel pretty terrible. So, if you have a cold that takes a turn for the worse, see your doctor to get checked for pneumonia.
When should I call a doctor if I think it is pneumonia?If you or a loved one has signs of pneumonia, make an appointment to see your doctor. Pneumonia can get worse quickly, and you will want to know what kind of pneumonia you have so you can treat it properly. If you or a loved one experience trouble breathing, have severe chest pain, a high fever or worsening symptoms, seek medical attention right away. If you or a loved one is in a high risk population, do not hesitate to seek medical attention, as pneumonia can develop into a life-threatening condition.
2 WebMD. What is pneumonia? March 17, 2011.
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Limit Contact With Others
One of the best things you can do when recovering from pneumonia is to limit your contact with others. As weve learned throughout the COVID-19 pandemicwhich can cause viral pneumoniastaying at least six feet away from others reduces the amount of viral or bacterial content they are exposed to as you breathe or talk.
Pneumonia Diagnosis And Treatment
A clinical evaluation is necessary to diagnose pneumonia. The process may include taking your temperature, listening to your lungs with a stethoscope, analyzing your sputum and performing a chest X-ray, blood test and CT scan.
Treatment of pneumonia varies on its type and severity, as well as a persons other health issues. Antibiotics may be necessary, and plenty of rest and liquids are likely to be recommended.
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It Might Feel Like A Cold
Walking pneumonia is how some people describe a mild case of pneumonia. Your doctor might call it âatypical pneumoniaâ because itâs not like more serious cases.
A lung infection is often to blame. Lots of things can cause it, including:
- Inhaled food
Walking pneumonia usually is due to bacteria called Mycoplasma pneumoniae.
You probably wonât have to stay in bed or in the hospital. You might even feel good enough go to work and keep up your routine, just as you might with a cold.
Pneumonia Symptoms And Causes
There are more than 30 different causes of pneumonia, including bacteria, viruses, airborne irritants, and fungi. When these germs enter the lungs, they can overpower the immune system and invade nearby lung tissues, which are very delicate.
Once infected, the air sacs in the lungs become inflamed and fill up with fluid and pus, which causes coughing, fever, chills, and breathing problems.
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Home Remedies For Treating Walking Pneumonia
For treating walking pneumonia some home remedies can come in handy for getting rid of the symptoms.
- There is no substitution to eating health, particularly when you have caught walking pneumonia. So, when you are ill with it, start eating foods that are rich in vitamin A and vitamin C.
Not only will these vitamins help in strengthening your immune system but they will also help in fortifying the inner linings of your lungs. This will ultimately help in pacing up your recovery and help prevent walking pneumonia recurrence.
WHO also advises that children who suffer from respiratory infections should be given vitamin D supplements in addition to vitamin D rich foods. These foods include eggs, oily fish and vitamin-D fortified foods. The vitamin D intake can also be increased by absorbing sunlight. Unsurprisingly, vitamin D also helps in immune system regulation that protects children from not only pneumonia but also from other respiratory infections including bronchiolitis and tuberculosis .
A study conducted by experts from the University of Eastern Finland which was also published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
The study suggested that low vitamin D levels in serum increase the risk of pneumonia by 2.5 times, where the average age of study participants was 62.3 years and the baseline serum concentration was set at 43.5nmol/l.
What Is Bacterial Pneumonia
Bacteria are the most common cause of pneumonia in adults.
Types of bacteria that cause pneumonia include:
- Streptococcus pneumoniae
- Chlamydophila pneumoniae
- Haemophilus influenzae type B
Streptococcus pneumoniae, also known as pneumococcus, is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in adults, called pneumococcal pneumonia.
It may be prevented by a vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two pneumonia vaccines for adults 65 years and older: pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, or Prevnar 13 , and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, or Pneumovax 23 .
According to the CDC:
- You should receive a dose of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine first, followed at least one year later by a dose of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine .
- If you’ve already received any doses of PPSV23, the dose of PCV13 should be given at least one year after the most recent PPSV23 dose.
- If you’ve already received a dose of the PCV13 at a younger age, another dose is not recommended.
Mycoplasma pneumoniae usually infects younger adults who work in crowded areas, such as schools, homeless shelters, or prisons.
Chlamydophila pneumoniae causes a mild pneumonia infection that usually affects people older than 60.
Other bacterial pneumonia symptoms include:
- High fever
- Sore throat
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Diagnosis Of Walking Pneumonia
This might come as a surprise to you that more often than not walking pneumonia goes undiagnosed and untreated. As the symptoms experienced are so mild in nature, one cant usually tell if they suffer from a condition which requires a visit to the doctor.
You can casually walk in and out of a walking pneumonia this easily. But, this doesnt mean that you should ignore any symptoms as trivial and decide to not pay a visit to your doctor. That would just be wrong, you shouldnt be doing it.
Once you begin to notice the symptoms of walking pneumonia, you have met with your doctor to be certain about the nature of your disease. It is quite possible that, your symptoms may deceive you into thinking that it is walking pneumonia, while in reality it is a severe form of pneumonia or some other condition, you werent considering initially.
As you visit your doctor, to give you an accurate diagnosis, your doctor will perform a physical examination on you and take your medical history. Dont hide anything from them. I repeat. DO NOT
Initially, the doctor will examine your chest, breathing rate and observe you for the presence of congestion or wheezing with a stethoscope. Following this chest examination, if your doctor identifies a problem, he will take a chest X-ray which will further make a pneumonia diagnosis easier.
At other times, your doctor may run a culture test on the mucus sample taken from the nose or throat, that can further help confirm a diagnosis.
How To Prevent Walking Pneumonia
Once you are infected with walking pneumonia, you should ensure that you are taking measures to not spread in to the people around you.
- For this purpose, you are supposed to cover your mouth and nose when you are coughing or sneezing so that the infected droplets do not spread through the air and infect people who are breathing in the same air.
- You should use a handkerchief or tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you feel the need to cough, sneeze or blow your nose. Your infected sputum should also be properly discarded.
- Discard the soiled tissues properly.
- Keep your hands clean from repeated washing and having a hand sanitizer handy.
- Maintain good hygiene of yourself and your surroundings.
- Keep your room ventilated so fresh air can replace contaminated air.
- Avoid being in crowded place until you begin your medication and observe symptom improvement
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Causes And Risk Factors Of Pneumonia
How do you get pneumonia? The majority of the germs that cause infection are spread from person to person through droplets, from coughing or sneezing.
- A weakened immune system due to human immunodeficiency virus or cancer
People who smoke are at higher risk for pneumonia, as are people on immunosuppressive medications, and people who are frequently in close, crowded spaces with others, such as college students and military personnel.
Antibiotic Resistance And Walking Pneumonia
Due to the structural composition of the strain, particularly due to the lack of a cell wall mycoplasma pneumoniae is resistant to penicillin belong to the class of beta-lactam antibiotics. So, after your doctor is certain about the diagnosis of walking pneumonia, he is unlikely to prescribe you penicillin.
However, the menace of antibiotic resistance doesnt end here but it extends to antibiotic resistance to medications which are the recommended treatment route for the condition. According to the CDC, the M. pneumoniae strains begin to exhibit resistance to macrolide in year 2000. The macrolide-resistant strains of walking pneumonia pose a challenge to health experts globally, as these strains have the ability to nullify the effect of medication that is in the fore-front of combating the infection.
This drug resistance had been identified in Europe and in the US, however, this resistance has reached alarming levels of about 90%, in some parts of Asia. According to Clinical Infectious Diseases from Oxford Journals, in China during the span of over a year, from 1st August 2008 to 30th September 2009, out of 356 adults who reported a respiratory tract infection in a clinical setting 67 strain isolates were identified as M. pneumoniae. From these isolates, over 69% strains showed resistance to macrolide. Upon further sample analysis, it was found that the strains had point mutations present in the 23S ribosomal RNA gene.
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How Long Does It Take To Recover From Pneumonia
“Pneumonia is a serious illness that can take quite a toll on a person’s lungs and body. It can take anywhere from a week to several months to fully recover from it,” says Dr. Rayman Lee, pulmonologist at Houston Methodist.
The length of time it takes for you to recover from pneumonia is influenced by:
- Your age
- The severity of your illness
- Whether you have other health conditions
- The type of pneumonia
If you’re generally healthy and have only a mild case of pneumonia, your symptoms should begin to improve one to two days after starting treatment.
“Most people with mild pneumonia are able to return to their everyday activities in a week, although fatigue and cough can linger for an entire month,” says Dr. Lee.
Recovery timelines become more murky for people who have severe pneumonia.
“For more serious cases that require hospitalization, we’re not only focused on clearing the infection, we’re also focused on preventing or treating complications that can develop including difficulty breathing, fluid buildup in the lungs, sepsis, acute respiratory distress syndrome and lung abscesses,” warns Dr. Lee.
Pneumonia and its complications can wreak havoc on a person’s lungs and body. And, it can take anywhere from one to six months for a person to recover and regain strength after being hospitalized for pneumonia.
Severe Symptoms Of Pneumonia
In more serious cases of pneumonia, you may start to cough up blood, or feel very confused or drowsy. The NHS advises that you call 999 or attend A& E immediately if either of these symptoms develop. Other symptoms requiring emergency care include:
- Struggling to breathe
- Feeling very cold and sweaty, and having blotchy, pale skin
- A blue tinge to your lips or face
- A rash that doesnt fade under a glass
- Suddenly collapsing
- Stopping normal urination
Sometimes severe pneumonia causes complications such as pleurisy. This where the pleura, the thin lining between the lung and ribs, becomes inflamed. This causes a sharp pain in the chest when breathing in and out.
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Pneumonia Symptoms In Adults
Pneumonia can feel very similar to other respiratory conditions such as the flu or a chest infection. The main symptom is coughing, which may bring up mucus that is green, yellow or bloody. Youll also feel generally unwell and tired.
Additionally, many people experience the following:
- Fever, accompanied by shivering and sweating
- Difficulty breathing and breathlessness even when resting
- Rapid heartbeat
- Chest pain, worsened by breathing or coughing
- Loss of appetite
Is Pneumonia Contagious
You don’t catch pneumonia, in fact you catch the germs that cause it.
You can encounter the germs that cause pneumonia in the most common of places, and the environment you frequent on a daily basis may contribute to how susceptible you are to the disease.
For example, children in school or day care facilities can easily catch viruses from one another, which makes them more prone to viral pneumonia.
In general, viral pneumonia is more likely to spread from person to person than pneumonia caused by a bacteria or fungus.
Some types of pneumonia spread only in certain environments.
For example, Legionnaires’ disease, which is caused by the bacteria Legionella pneumophila, may only pose a threat to people exposed to a contaminated air conditioning system. It has also been linked to inhaling droplets from whirlpools, spas, or fountains.
If you catch germs that cause pneumonia, your chance of developing the disease depends on your age, health, and lifestyle.
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How Are They Treated
Many cases of walking pneumonia dont require treatment. To help your body heal, its best to rest as much as possible and stay hydrated. If you have a fever, you can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen. You can also ask your doctor about taking an antibiotic.
Pneumonia and more serious cases of walking pneumonia may need additional treatment, such as:
- oxygen to assist with breathing
- intravenous fluids
- breathing treatments to help loosen the mucus in your airways
- corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
THE MAIN DIFFERENCE:
Walking pneumonia often doesnt require treatment, though some cases may need antibiotics. Pneumonia may require additional treatment to improve breathing and reduce inflammation in your airways.
Risk Factors For Hospital
Pneumonia that is contracted in the hospital is called hospital-acquired, or nosocomial, pneumonia. It is the most common hospital-acquired infection in the intensive care unit . It affects an estimated 5 to 10 of every 1,000 hospitalized patients every year. More than half of these cases may be due to strains of bacteria that have developed resistance to antibiotics. In fact, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and multidrug-resistant P aeruginosa are leading causes of death from hospital-acquired pneumonia. Those at highest risk are:
- Older people and the very young.
- People with long-term or severe medical conditions, such as lung problems, heart disease, nervous system disorders, and cancer.
- People who have had surgery, particularly people over age 80 years. Among the surgical procedures that pose a particular risk are removal of the spleen , abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, or operations that impair coughing.
- People who have been in the ICU. This is particularly true for newborns or patients on breathing machines . People who lie flat on their backs are at particular risk for aspiration pneumonia. Raising the person up may reduce this risk.
- People who have received sedation. Hospital patients who receive sedatives also have a higher risk of developing nosocomial pneumonia.
- People who received antibiotics within the previous 90 days.
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Is There A Such Thing As Mild Pneumonia In An Elderly Person And If So Is This Any Less Of An Urgent Situation
Ever wonder if its possible for an elderly person to experience a pneumonia thats only mild?
Of course it can, in folks who are generally healthy, begins Susan L. Besser, MD, with Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore Diplomate, American Board of Obesity Medicine and board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.
But in the frail elderly, even a cold can cause significant issues.
Though pneumonia in an advanced-age patient doesnt always produce serious symptoms, this doesnt mean one should be any less vigilant with recovery.
Pneumonia in the elderly can produce what appears to be mild symptoms, as was the case with my mother, who at the time was over age 70.
Initially she appeared to just have a nagging cough. It would come on suddenly and shed have a spell of hacking.
I tried to get her to describe the nature of this cough, but her feedback was not reliable, as shes not someone whos very tuned into her body or symptoms.
My mothers cough sounded really bad and was producing phlegm, and I began suspecting pneumonia, something coming up from her lungs.
Even though my mother kept saying she felt fine, other than feeling tired or weak from all the coughing, I couldnt dismiss pneumonia as a real possible trigger of the coughing.
There were no other symptoms no fever, shakes, chills or shortness of breath pre-diagnosis.
The diagnosis at the ER was a little pneumonia.
The next day, my elderly but very mobile mother reported feeling weak.