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Important Differences Between the Flu and Pneumonia

November 5, 2019
Published in: General

doctor listening to a man's breathing

The weather is cooling down and that means coughs, stuffy noses, fevers, and lots of germs are on their way! Two of the most overwhelming illnesses that come around this time of year are influenza (the flu) and pneumonia. They have so many similar symptoms it can be hard to differentiate between the two. Below are some tips for telling the difference. Remember, make sure you are always getting your doctors input if you're experiencing any of these symptoms.

What's the Difference

The flu and pneumonia have some common symptoms, but they are not exactly the same. Both are important to be aware of and seeking treatment is key to prevent complications. The flu is caused by viruses, but pneumonia can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi. Pneumonia can also develop as a flu complication. Both are important to be aware of and seeking treatment is key to prevent more serious health issues.

Flu symptoms usually come on strong, seemingly out of the blue and can include any of the following:
  • High Fever (anything above 100.4 F)
  • Headache
  • Severe aches & pains
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Dry, hacking cough
Pneumonia symptoms come on slower than the flu but faster than the common cold. With pneumonia, you might have all of the symptoms of the flu, but also:
  • High fever up to 105 F
  • Coughing out greenish, yellow or bloody mucus
  • Chills that make you shake
  • Feeling like you can't catch your breath, especially when you move around a lot.
  • Low appetite
  • Sharp chest pain
  • Sweating a lot
  • Fast breathing/ heartbeat
  • Lips & fingernails turning blue.

The Breakdown of Symptoms

Since both the flu and pneumonia have similar symptoms, it is important to know the differences between those.

  • Soreness and Pain – Muscle soreness is common with flu symptoms. Pneumonia typically causes pain in the chest. You may also experience pain in your ribs from frequent, hard coughing.
  • Coughing – Both the flu and pneumonia cause coughing. A flu cough is likely to be a dry cough. A pneumonia cough is likely to bring up phlegm that has built up in your lungs. However, if you're dehydrated, a pneumonia cough can also present as a dry cough.
  • Nasal Congestion and Sore Throat – The flu tends to impact the sinuses and cause a sore throat. With pneumonia your sinuses are likely to stay clear.

Resources at Augusta Health

Few things are more important than the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the health of you and your family are in compassionate, expert hands. It is important to have a primary care provider, and our expert team of nurses and doctors will help to keep you on track with vaccines and routine check-ups to help keep you healthy! To find out more about the services we offer or to schedule an appointment, call us at (540) 332-4000.