Pneumonia or Flu?

It's that time of year again-sick season. That means illnesses like the flu and pneumonia are becoming more prevalent. These illnesses are often confused for each other, so we thought it was a great time to establish the key differences between pneumonia and the flu and how to tell which illness is ailing you.

The Difference Between Pneumonia and the Flu

First, the flu is a viral infection while pneumonia is a lung infection that can develop from either a bacterial or viral infection. Pneumonia can also be a complication of the flu.

The flu tends to come on suddenly while pneumonia develops more slowly. The flu is often accompanied by muscle aches or pains and fatigue. Because pneumonia is an illness in the lungs, symptoms tend to be respiratory-related.

Symptoms of the Flu

  • The following symptoms are signs of the flu.
  • Body aches and pain
  • Dry cough
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Fever above 100.4
  • Headache

Symptoms of Pneumonia

  • You may have pneumonia if you have these symptoms:
  • Bluish lips or fingernails
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Decreased appetite
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Quick heartbeat and breathing
  • Sweating
  • Trouble catching breath
  • Wheezing
  • Yellow, green or bloody mucus
  • Confusion (in older adults)

When to See Your Provider

As you can see, the flu and pneumonia are actually very different illnesses. However, both can lead to major complications if left untreated.

The flu can be treated with antiviral medication if you see your provider within one to two days of the onset of symptoms. If you wait too long to get an antiviral medicine, you can still treat the symptoms of the flu with OTC pain relievers.

If you develop pneumonia symptoms, see your provider right away. You may need an x-ray to confirm the diagnosis, and you may also need an antibiotic if the infection in your lungs is bacterial. We mentioned earlier that pneumonia can be a complication of the flu. This and other possible complications are why it's crucial to monitor your flu symptoms and alert your provider if any changes develop.

Getting your flu shot can prevent the flu altogether or greatly reduce your symptoms and prevent serious developments like pneumonia. The flu shot is available at our four Knoxville Summit Express Clinics. Visit us between 8 am and 8 pm seven days a week. For additional information, visit Summit Express Clinics.