There is nothing worse than being sick, and that is particularly true, especially when you get to experience flu and pneumonia, two of the most debilitating respiratory illnesses. While both share a common similarity with their symptoms, the effects of pneumonia and flu are entirely different from each other.
To get the best treatment plan, knowing how to distinguish between flu and pneumonia is critical. Read further to learn more.
What is Influenza?
Flu is a highly contagious illness caused by an influenza virus. It characterizes a severe infection of the throat, nose, and sometimes the lungs. Without proper treatment, influenza can develop and progress as pneumonia. Most often, a flu vaccine can help reduce the severity of symptoms and prevent serious complications.
What is Pneumonia?
On the other hand, pneumonia is a form of infection caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. When a person has pneumonia, their lungs’ air sacs become inflamed and filled with liquid or pus. Consequently, this inflammation blocks the oxygen from reaching into the bloodstream, making it difficult to breathe.
Differentiating Between Influenza and Pneumonia
Flu and pneumonia symptoms can be challenging to differentiate, but not impossible. Knowing the key differences between the two is essential to prevent further worsening of the condition. To better address your current health status, here are some points that you should keep in mind:
Appearance of Symptoms
Flu symptoms quickly show while pneumonia symptoms are slower. If you are experiencing severe symptoms that seem to appear out of the blue, you may be having the flu. Flu viruses usually come out strong and lead to extreme weakness but quickly resolves over time. Meanwhile, pneumonia symptoms progress slowly but develop much faster than the common cold. With pneumonia, you may get all the flu symptoms, which will usually require more time to recover.
- Fever, Chills, Sweating
A person with either flu or pneumonia will experience abnormal body temperatures, sweating, and chills. While both illnesses cause the weakening of the immune system, fever caused by the flu should only last for a maximum of two days. If your fever climbs higher and lasts longer than this timeframe, you may be having pneumonia.
- Nasal Congestion and Sore Throat
A common cold that causes nasal blockage and throat inflammation is a clear sign of the flu. With pneumonia, your sinuses remain clear. It is vital to know that pneumonia only targets your lungs and would not affect your nasal and sinus function. However, there is a high chance that you may experience difficulty in breathing and chest pain. This symptom is due to the liquid that fills your air sacs.
- Coughing and Phlegm
Pneumonia produces coughing and breathing problems but has a different nature. A cough caused by the flu is likely to be a dry cough. A pneumonia cough contains phlegm due to the build-up of fluid from the lungs.
Why is Flu Vaccine Important?
Getting a flu vaccine is essential to reduce the burden of respiratory illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an annual flu vaccine should be the first and most critical step to protect yourself against flu and pneumonia risks.
During the flu, your body secretes mucus which leaves you prone to dehydration. It creates an environment where bacteria and viruses can multiply, potentially leading to pneumonia. When a complication happens, your body will have difficulty defeating the germs, and recovery will take longer. Luckily, the flu vaccine helps prevent the progression of these symptoms.
Stopping the Spread of Germs
Along with other preventive actions, it is always necessary to avoid the spread of the virus. You can do so by observing proper hygiene and frequent handwashing. Limiting contact and covering your nose and mouth also help in preventing transmission. If possible, wearing a surgical mask helps contain the germs and prevents others from being exposed to the virus.
Seeking Professional Care
It is always best to get yourself checked by a medical professional for possible symptoms of flu and pneumonia. Early detection and intervention help prevent complications and worsening of your condition. Follow your doctor’s instructions on how to treat your illness for fast recovery.