ZocdocAnswersHow do you tell the difference between being sick and having pneumonia?

Question

How do you tell the difference between being sick and having pneumonia?

I'm afraid I have pneumonia. I have had a cold for like two weeks. How do you know the difference between just a cold and pneumonia? Aren't the symptoms pretty much the same? Why won't my cold go away if it is not pneumonia?

Answer

Pneumonia can be caused by a cold, but the symptoms are generally much more severe and include high fever, shortness of breath, malaise (fatigue and feeling very worn down), myalgias (muscle aches), and a deep cough. While colds can have some semblance of these symptoms and can persist for some time, they are generally much less severe. Some people will talk about walking pneumonia, which is often caused by a different bacteria and often affects younger people who are able to walk and continue with some of their daily activities, but this is still usually more severe than just a simple cold. Due to the fact that your symptoms have already persisted for more than 10 days, you should be thinking about going to visit a physician unless you have started to notice some improvement. Runny nose is often a symptom associated with a cold (and not so much with pneumonia), and if you are still having nasal discharge at this point it could be a sign of a bacterial sinus infection, which does sometimes occur after a viral upper respiratory tract infection. Also, if you have been around other sick contacts, you could likely have what they had. Please speak with your doctor.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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