Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Do I just have a cold or is it walking pneumonia?"
Had a bad cold for about a week that includes a cough, fever, and weakness. I know it might sound crazy, but it just doesn't feel like a normal cold. I feel worse as time has gone on. Is it walking pneumonia or something similar?
The common cold can have many symptoms that are similar to a pneumonia. Even for experienced doctors it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference with testing and examination. I would recommend that you discuss this with your primary care doctor and see him or her in the near future. While both can improve on there own, the treatment we have for each is different and this may influence your overall improvement. Firstly, the common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract (such as the nose and large airways). There are many viruses that cause this but in general there is no specific treatment for it -- the body will clear this after 7-10 days. A pneumonia on the other hand is an infection of the lungs themselves (and not the airways). This can either be caused by a virus or a bacteria. If caused by a bacteria, we often treat with antibiotics which can help assist the body in its fight. A walking pneumonia is a term that refers to a pneumonia that does not completely debilitate the patient -- but is not really a helpful term in thinking about what the cause is or treatment will be. The only way to tell the difference is to listen to the lungs and to perform a chest x-ray. Please talk to your doctor for more information.
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