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Nov 18, 2021
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How to distinguish covid pneumonia from bacterial?

According to the doctor, viral pneumonia is usually diagnosed during the SARS season, mainly in winter. They are characterized by fever, dry cough, headache, muscle pain, weakness, shortness of breath.

The main difference between pneumonia caused by bacteria is a cough with sputum production, most often purulent. Other symptoms include fever, severe weakness, sweating, and chest pain. This type of pneumonia is characterized by the rapid development of complications, the most common of which is respiratory failure. It is diagnosed with an X-ray, blood tests and sputum culture.

“On the chest x-ray, we also see a different picture: viral pneumonia is always bilateral, develops on days 2–3 of the disease and can progress very quickly. The doctor sees an increase in the interstitial pattern, the presence of small focal shadows more often in the lower lobes, but these changes may be subtle. In this regard, CT of the lungs is more informative. Bacterial pneumonia has, as a rule, one-sided localization, it can be in any part of the lung, it is always accompanied by a vivid clinical picture. “

Kuldibaeva Alina Talgatovna

Ic work of authorship @ 2xexpert
Ic snowflake @ 2xPulmonologist, Allergologist-immunologist, Pediatrician

According to Alina Kuldibaeva, pneumonia caused by a bacterial or viral infection proceeds in different ways.

With bacterial pneumonia:

  • symptoms may increase gradually;
  • more often only one lung is inflamed;
  • moist cough with phlegm;
  • fever develops, the patient sweats, breathing and pulse are rapid, acute pain in the chest is possible.

For covid or other viral pneumonia:

  • the condition immediately becomes severe, the state of health is rapidly deteriorating;
  • bilateral lung damage;
  • dry cough, wheezing;
  • fever, muscle and headache, weakness, severe shortness of breath appear.

Viral pneumonia in COVID-19 is often atypical, when, in the absence of some characteristic symptoms, an acute inflammatory process occurs in the lungs. Pneumonia in coronavirus can also be bacterial if it develops as a complication of COVID-19 as a result of the attachment of bacteria, most often streptococcus pneumoniae. Most often this occurs on the 4th-7th day of illness. In this case, the signs do not appear at the same time as the symptoms of coronavirus infection. At the same time, the cough is first dry, paroxysmal, and then moist, with thick sputum.

Covid pneumoniae and bacterial pneumonia differ in their approach to treatment. Antibiotics are only prescribed for bacterial pneumonia. If the pneumonia is caused by a virus and there is no bacterial infection, taking antibiotics is useless and even dangerous.


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