How Do You Know If Pneumonia Is Viral Or Bacterial?

How Do You Know If Pneumonia Is Viral Or Bacterial?

Table of Contents

Pneumonia is the medical term for inflammation of one or both lungs. This disease can occur due to viral, bacterial, or fungal infection. Its symptoms are dependent on the age and type of that.

Pneumonia is an infection that affects the lungs. This infection causes the lung sacs and alveoli to become inflamed and filled with fluid or pus.

When an infection occurs, a myriad of symptoms, such as fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, occur.

Pneumonia can occur in any age group and can be mild or life-threatening.

This is particularly dangerous for the very young and the elderly as these age groups are more likely to have weakened immune systems and other health problems.

While some people may not need medical treatment for pneumonia, others will need it to prevent long-term complications or even death.

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What are the early symptoms of pneumonia?

Early symptoms of this disease may be similar to those of the flu, especially if the person has viral pneumonia.

Early symptoms of pneumonia include:

  1. Dry cough
  2. Fever
  3. Headache
  4. Muscle aches and pains
  5. A general feeling of weakness
  6. Depending on the type of it, symptoms may appear gradually or suddenly.


Related: “What Is The Difference Between Intermittent, Remittent, And Relapsing Fever?

early symptoms of pneumonia 1

Bacterial pneumonia

Pneumonia caused by bacteria is called bacterial pneumonia. Many types of bacteria can cause bacterial pneumonia, but the most common type is Streptococcus pneumonia.

This type of pneumonia occurs when bacteria enter the lungs and begin to multiply. This will cause an immune reaction and lead to inflammation in the lower respiratory tract.

You may also be interested in reading the article “How To Treat COPD Symptoms? Are You Struggling To Breathe?” )

How Do You Know If Pneumonia Is Viral Or Bacterial? 03
  • Bacterial pneumonia types:

    There are two types of bacterial pneumonia, which include typical and atypical. Unusual and ordinary pneumonia have the following differences:

    1. The bacteria responsible for it cause different symptoms.
      Bacteria appear differently on chest X-rays.
      Bacteria react to different antibiotics.
      The most common type of common bacterial pneumonia is pneumococcal pneumonia, which is caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae.
    2. Some bacteria may cause unusual bacterial pneumonia, including:
      • Mycoplasma
      • Chlamydophila
      • Legionella pneumophila
How Do You Know If Pneumonia Is Viral Or Bacterial? 04
  • Symptoms of bacterial pneumonia include:

    1. An audible rattling sound in the chest when breathing
    2. Dry or non-productive cough
    3. A wet or productive cough can produce yellow, green, brown, or bloody mucus.
    4. Chest pain that worsens with physical activity or coughing.
    5. Shortness of breath
    6. Body temperature above 38°C or below 35°C
    7. Increased heart rate and breathing
    8. Headache
    9. Fatigue
    10. body pain
How Do You Know If Pneumonia Is Viral Or Bacterial? 05
  • Treatment of bacterial pneumonia

    The bacterial type of this disease requires antibiotics to treat. Ideally, the antibiotic targets a specific type of bacteria. Steroids may also be used to improve breathing.

It is also common to hear about bacterial pneumonia called “community-acquired pneumonia.” If it occurs in the hospital for other reasons, it is often called “hospital-acquired pneumonia” and “ventilator-associated pneumonia.” However, all these types of pneumonia can also be viral pneumonia.

For those suffering from bacterial pneumonia, the doctor may ask the person to visit him for two days to evaluate the treatment method and ensure that he will not be hospitalized.

Also, the doctor recommends the following to reduce the risk of bacterial pneumonia in the future:

    • Quit Smoking
    • Receive pneumococcal vaccine
    • Annual flu vaccination
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Viral pneumonia

Viral pneumonia occurs in response to a viral infection. This tends to affect both lungs.

You may also be interested in reading the article “What Are Whooping Cough’s Early Symptoms” )

The most common cause of viral pneumonia in adults is the influenza virus. The most common cause in children is respiratory obstruction virus.

Many other types of viruses that cause viral pneumonia include:

  • Rhinovirus
  • Adenovirus
  • coronavirus
  • Herpes simplex virus
  • The rubella virus causes measles.
Herpes simplex virus
  • Symptoms of viral pneumonia include:

The symptoms of viral pneumonia are very similar to those of bacterial pneumonia. However, people may experience the following additional symptoms:


Approximately 30% of pneumonia cases are viral. This type of pneumonia is commonly caused as a secondary infection from other viruses such as influenza, coronavirus, parainfluenza, adenovirus, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

These types of viruses are spread through air droplets. For example, a sneeze or cough may cause sputum to become airborne and become airborne, or the virus may land on a handle or surface that is touched and then be transferred to the nose or mouth.

In that regard reading the article “Contagious Bronchitis Spreads Faster Than Coronavirus!” would be wise.

How Do You Know If Pneumonia Is Viral Or Bacterial? 07
  • Treatment of viral pneumonia

While bacterial pneumonia is treated with antibiotics, this treatment does not help viral pneumonia.

Viruses do not respond to antibiotics. Sometimes antiviral drugs may be prescribed.
For example, if this disease is secondary to the flu, oseltamivir (Tamiflu), zanamivir (Relenza), or peramivir (Rapivab) may help spread the virus.

If the it is secondary to RSV, ribavirin (Virazol) may be prescribed.

antibiotics for Pneumonia

Fungal pneumonia

Fungal pneumonia is not nearly as common as bacterial and viral pneumonia. Fungal pneumonia is more likely to occur in people with immune system problems or other chronic diseases.

Fungal pneumonia occurs when a spore enters the lungs and begins to multiply.

The most common types of fungal pneumonia are:

Pneumocystis pneumonia. This type of pneumonia is caused by Pneumocystis jirovecii fungus.

It usually occurs in people with compromised immune systems, such as people with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immunodeficiency disease (AIDs), people with organ transplants, or those being treated for cancer.

Fungal pneumonia
  • Fungal pneumonia types:

    • Coccidioidomycosis.

The fungi that cause this particular type of pneumonia are called Coccidioides and are commonly found in west Texas, southern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and central California.

    • Histoplasmosis.

The fungus Histoplasma capsulatum is found in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys and is spread by droppings from bats and birds.

Fortunately, less than five percent of people with low exposure will develop this type of pneumonia, but with high exposure, most people will develop pneumonia.

    • Cryptococcus.

Although Cryptococcus fungus can be found in soil worldwide, getting this fungal infection is risky without an immune system.

  • Symptoms of fungal pneumonia include:

    • Dry cough
    • Low-grade fever
    • Breathing problems can come on suddenly or worsen over several weeks.


  • Treatment of fungal pneumonia

    If a person has fungal pneumonia, the doctor prescribes a course of oral or intravenous treatment. This course can include an antifungal treatment with glucocorticoids to reduce lung inflammation.

Some people may need mechanical ventilation to help them breathe.

( Reading the article “How To Prevent Pulmonary Hypertension Naturally?” is recommended )

body temperature

How do you know if pneumonia is viral or bacterial?

The difference between viral and bacterial pneumonia
Although viral and bacterial pneumonia can look very similar, there are significant differences between the two. The following sections describe several examples.

Affecting the lungs: Bacterial pneumonia tends to affect a specific part of the body or lung lobe, but viral pneumonia usually affects both lungs.
The onset of symptoms: Symptoms of bacterial pneumonia develop suddenly or gradually, but symptoms of viral pneumonia usually appear within a few days.
Symptoms: Usually, people with bacterial pneumonia experience a higher temperature and wet cough, but people with viral pneumonia tend to have a lower temperature and a dry cough. Also, people with viral pneumonia often face flu and digestive symptoms that people with bacterial pneumonia usually do not suffer from.

pneumonia is viral or bacterial

Home remedies for pneumonia

Various steps and home options that help treat pneumonia include:

  • Taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help with pain and fever
  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep the body hydrated and loosen phlegm
  • Using incense as well as a steam bath or shower to make breathing easier
  • Avoid smoking or exposure to cigarette smoke or wood smoke
  • Rest as much as possible to aid recovery
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Pneumonia Recovery & Aftercare

The recovery time from pneumonia is different for different people.

According to ALS, some people experience improvement in symptoms within one week, but it may take one month or more for others. In any case, the symptoms of fatigue and lethargy can last for about a month.

It is essential to follow the treatment recommendations of the doctor. This will reduce the risk of complications. Possible complications of pneumonia include:

  • Respiratory failure and thus the need for mechanical ventilation
  • Lung abscess – where pus forms in or around the lungs.
  • Sepsis or uncontrolled inflammation leads to organ failure and can be fatal.
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Seek medical attention immediately if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Coughing up blood
  • Changes in the color of the lips or face to blue (bruising)
  • Feeling cold or sweating along with pale or blotchy skin
  • Confusion or drowsiness
  • Fainting or falling
  • Absence of urination or frequent urination



Pneumonia refers to inflammation of one or both lungs. A bacterial, viral, or fungal infection of the lungs can cause this disease.
Symptoms of pneumonia can vary depending on the age and type of pneumonia. Possible symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, fever, and chills.

Pneumonia symptoms will improve for some people within a month; others will improve simply by using over-the-counter medications and home remedies. Others may require medical treatment or hospitalization.
People should see a doctor if they see symptoms of pneumonia. Also, people who experience severe symptoms should receive immediate medical attention.

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Author and specialist

Dr. Majid Zahrabi,


  • Board Certified Neurosurgeon
  • DHA certificate holder
  • Plantation certificate holder, France
  • Certified holder of Discogol, France
  • A pioneer in the non-surgical treatment of disc herniation in the Middle East and CIS countries.
  • Under the training and coaching of Professor Jacques Theron (founder of Discogel Therapy) since 2008
  • More than 400 successful cervical and 1300 lumbar discogel injections
  • Trained and certified several neurosurgeons and spine surgeons in the Middle East and CIS countries for the treatment of Discogel
  • Strong belief in patient-centered care planning and participation
  • Neurosurgeon and spine surgeon at Imam Khomeini and Amir Mazandarani Hospital, Sari, Iran, with more than 430 surgeries annually, 2000-2011
  • Neurosurgeon and spine surgeon at Farmaniyeh, Nikan and Yas Sepid Hospital, Tehran, Iran, with more than 400 surgeries annually, 2011-2012
  • Neurosurgeon at Iranian Hospital, Dubai, 2022-2023
  • Since 2015, he has been working as a reference doctor for the treatment of intervertebral disc herniation with Discogel and has trained many doctors of spine-related specialties in various countries of the Middle East and CIS in person/practically and online.



  • Individual training sessions under the direct supervision of Professor Jacques Theron in Discogel treatment, 2008-2020
  • Training sessions under the supervision of Professor Thierry Boye on spinal implants, 2007
  • Participation and presentation in several national and international medical and neuro-spinal conferences
  • Board certificate by Iran Neurosurgery Board, 2001
  • Neurosurgery assistant training course, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran, 1996-2001 (In 2001, he graduated from Isfahan University of Medical Sciences with the first rank in the country.
  • His thesis the titled:The Application of human amniotic membrane in repair of dura matter in dogs.” ( It was happening for the first time in the world. )
  • General medical education, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran, 1984-1993


Published books:

  • CT scan of the brain for doctors
  • Etiology and treatment of painful spine disorders
  • Atlas of diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of spine disorders
  • The most common mistakes in the treatment of spinal disorders
  • Reading brain CT scan in simple language (3rd place in the book of the year)
  • Treatment of head and spine injuries

Publications and articles:

  • Bacteriostatic and bactericidal effects of DISCOGEL® (https://www.researchgate.net/)
  • Muscle recovery, reduction of pain, and improvement of movement strategies in patients with lumbar discopathy after injection of Discogel.
  • The article on the initial results of the treatment of intervertebral disc herniation with discogel injection, which won the second-best poster rank at the Pan Arab International Congress of Interventional Radiology (March 14-16, 2015) and was accepted for presentation at the Chicago Pain Congress.
  • The use of human amniotic membrane in dura mater repair in dogs, a study for the first time in the world.



  • Annual Congress of Physiotherapists of Iran, 2019
  • Chicago International Pain Congress, 2019
  • Iran International Pain Management Congress, 2018
  • Annual Congress of Physiotherapists of Iran, 2018
  • Presentation of Discogel as an innovative solution for the treatment of spinal disc herniation in Armenia for orthopedic specialists and neurosurgeons, 2017
  • First Live Workshop and Seminar on Minimally Invasive Disc Therapy (DISCON), 2017
  • Presentation of Discogel as an innovative solution for the treatment of spinal disc herniation in Azerbaijan for orthopedic specialists and neurosurgeons, 2016
  • Seminar of Iranian official managers, 2016
  • Presentation of Discogel as an innovative solution for the treatment of spinal disc herniation in Tajikistan for orthopedic specialists and neurosurgeons, 2016
  • International Neurological Intervention Congress in Iran, 2014
  • Educational seminar for nurses on treatment approaches for head and spine trauma, 2014
  • Educational seminar for general practitioners on treatment approaches for head and spine trauma, 2014
  • Speech at the Retraining Seminar for General Practitioners and Specialists in Dubai (Discon) in 2017
  • Speech in the internal retraining courses of Irani Hospital, Dubai
  • Holding lecture sessions and practical workshops on the treatment of intervertebral disc herniation with discogel injection in Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Oman, and Armenia during the years 2015 to 2021.
  • Giving a lecture and holding a practical workshop for neurosurgeons in Vietnam at Ho Chi Minh City University in 2023

Dr. Majid Zohrabi started treating his patients in Dubai in 2022 and continues his activities in private medical centers in the UAE.