What is the difference between bacterial and viral pneumonia?

*This text has been compiled based on information from health agencies and authorities, hospitals and health experts. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms described here, we suggest you seek medical attention as soon as possible.

A pneumonia It is a disease that affects the lungs. This causes our alveoli to become inflamed and filled with fluid or pus. It interferes with the respiratory process, weakens the patient and can lead to death.

It is infection with a pathogen that leads to disease. Viruses and bacteria are the main causes of the disease, but the symptoms caused are very similar. Now understand the difference between the two.

pneumoniaPneumonia can be caused by viruses or bacteria (Source: Shutterstock)Source: Shutterstock

Between 13% and 50% of cases, the causative agent is a virus, while bacteria cause 8% to 13% of diagnoses. It should be mentioned that it is possible, although rare, that the disease is caused by fungi.

Despite this, frequent cough with phlegm, pain in breastbone, breastbone, fever, chills and shortness of breath are some of the common symptoms of all forms of pneumonia. People of all ages are susceptible to both infections, which are more severe in children or the elderly.

Is there a difference?

i know so much pneumonia viral and bacterial share very similar symptoms and marks, some people may wonder if it is really important to identify what type of infection affects patients.

But despite the similarities, there are two completely different characteristics between them: prevention and treatment. This is why any doctor will insist on tests and evaluations to find out what type of infection has led to the condition.

Despite this, identifying the causative agent can be difficult, precisely because of all the similarities they share.


A pneumonia A virus can be caused by any virus, from the common cold to coronavirus. And it is much more contagious. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for its prevention, but luckily for us, most cases are usually mild.

Basic hygiene care, on the other hand, is enough to ensure that pathogens stay out of our lungs. Washing your hands frequently, not touching your face and wearing masks are some of them.

The bacterial version usually appears as an evolution of another disease. These pathogens do not spread from person to person like viruses. In fact, we already carry in our body the main culprit of the disease: the Streptococcus pneumoniae.

pneumoniaCauses of pneumonia, the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae migrates from the throat to the lungs (Source: Shutterstock)Source: Shutterstock

This bacteria is mainly found in our throat, usually harmless. As long as we are healthy, our immune system is able to contain its spread and keep the pathogen in place.

But if for some reason there is a drop in our body’s defense capacity, it can spread and reach the lungs, where it causes the pneumonia. Keeping your health up to date is therefore the best preventive practice in these cases.

science has developed vaccines to help those in need. Called pneumococcus, it is recommended for people over 65, smokers and patients with certain comorbidities.

diagnosis and treatment

To determine the cause of the infection, the doctor will perform a physical examination and analyze the patient’s clinical condition. Usually the pneumonia bacterial infections lead to more severe symptoms. He may also order cultures, blood tests, and chest X-rays.

Treatment begins only after confirmation of the diagnosis. If it is caused by a virus, the use of antivirals is able to solve the problem. In mild cases, the doctor may even prescribe only over-the-counter medications to relieve symptoms.

In bacterial cases, antibiotics are needed. These drugs are usually not prescribed because, first, they are not effective in fighting viruses, and second, they can cause side effects worse than the symptoms themselves in mild cases.

The main reason, however, is that if used unnecessarily, they have the opposite effect of what we want. Instead of strengthening our body’s defenses, when we use an antibiotic unnecessarily, we simply train the bacteria themselves to defend themselves, and the medicine loses its effectiveness when we really need it.

This is why knowing the cause of pneumonia it’s so important to doctors and patients. Knowing the infectious agent, we can adopt an appropriate treatment and nip the disease in the bud.

Moreover, by knowing which pathogens threaten our health, we are able to prepare ourselves in advance: by adopting a healthy lifestyle to strengthen the immune system and by taking basic hygiene precautions, we can ensure that viruses and bacteria stay away from our lungs for longer. .

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