Pneumonia is a very challenging disease that can devastate the life of an individual. It is an acute or chronic inflammation of one or both lungs caused by fungal, bacterial, or viral infections, wherein the air sacs (alveoli) in the lung(s) are filled with fluid. When the inflammation affects both lungs, this type of pneumonia is called double pneumonia. Whereas, when it affects just one facet of lungs, it’s called single pneumonia. This disease can be life-threatening to anyone, especially to those under the age of 5 and 6 and those who are 65 years of age and above. These are the people at higher risk of getting the disease, although as earlier mentioned, anyone can get infected with it.
Pneumonia can make it extremely difficult for the body to get its needed oxygen for blood circulation, thus causing the cells in the body to not function properly.
Before moving on to our main subject of discussion, there are risk factors responsible for the development of this infection. What are they?
The risk factors that increase your chances of getting pneumonia are:
1. Cerebral palsy
2. Smoking of cigarette
3. Chronic lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
4. Working in a lot-of-pollution environment
While there are various types of pneumonia, our discussion will be limited to both bacterial and viral pneumonia. What are they? What’s really the difference between bacterial and viral pneumonia?
Bacterial pneumonia is a type of pneumonia caused by a bacterial infection. Young ones have bacteria both in the nose and throat and would not cause any harm. But in the heat of the moment when the immune system becomes weak and unable to fight against infections, these bacteria travel down to the lungs. Consequently, the air sacs (alveoli) get inflamed and filled with fluid. This results in bacterial pneumonia.
The most common type of bacterium that causes bacterial pneumonia is the streptococcus bacterium. The second-leading cause of bacterial pneumonia is the presence of Haemophilus influenza. Well, studies show that Haemophilus influenza lives in the upper respiratory tract but doesn’t cause any harm to the body. However, the moment the immune system becomes weak and unable to fight against infections, Haemophilus influenza finds its way into the lungs, thus causing harm to the body. There are other bacteria, though, that cause bacterial pneumonia, and they include: MRSA and Streptococcus pyogenes.
Symptoms of Bacterial Pneumonia
Pains in the chest when coughing or breathing
Greenish or yellowish mucus coming out when you cough
When you experience rapid breathing or difficulty breathing
When your skin looks pale
Confusion, especially seen in older people
Viral pneumonia is one of the two most common types of pneumonia caused by a virus. The virus gets into the lungs and invades it, thus causing them to swell. This swelling leads to the blockage of oxygen. Viruses are everywhere, from the droplets in the air, keyboards, and objects that have been virus-laden. This leads to viral pneumonia, after touching your nose or mouth with the same hands or when the droplets in the air are inhaled.
Common causes of viral pneumonia include:
Influenza virus A and B
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
Human parainfluenza viruses (common in children)
Other causes of viral pneumonia, though in rarer cases, are:
Coronaviruses which include the middle east respiratory syndrome viruses and the severe acute respiratory syndrome viruses
Symptoms of Viral Pneumonia
The symptoms of viral pneumonia are very similar to those of bacterial pneumonia. However, knowing your symptoms will help you understand the type of pneumonia you’ve got but the best thing you could do is to book an appointment with your doctor. The symptoms of viral pneumonia include:
Pains in the muscles
Loss of appetite
Blue color in the lips and fingernails
Difference between Viral and Bacterial Pneumonia
Having considered what both bacterial and viral pneumonias are, let’s direct our attention to the difference both of them hold so as to help us know the type of pneumonia an individual has been infected with. While the causes of pneumonia, as classified by medical practitioners, include viruses, bacteria, and fungal infections, the most common causes are viruses and bacteria. However, there is a stack difference between bacterial and viral pneumonia.
What really is the difference between them both? Earlier, I mentioned that the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia is the streptococcus bacterium. This is more severe than viral pneumonia.
While the symptoms of both cases of pneumonia are somewhat similar, those of bacterial pneumonia are more severe.
While doctors will suggest that individuals undergo an antibiotic therapy over bacterial pneumonia, viral pneumonia doesn’t usually need medications because they will go on their own; except that they are caused by secondary bacterial infections.