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Flu vs. Pneumonia – Know the Symptoms

What’s the Difference between Flu vs. Pneumonia?

flu vs pneumonia

One of the main differences in the flu vs pneumonia.  One of the main differences is one is a bacterial infection and one is a viral infection.  Do you know which is which?

Below are guidelines to follow to determine what you might have.

The Flu

  • Hits suddenly
  • Usually characterized by fever, a dry cough and head-to-toe body aches.  Other symptoms may include a headache, sore throat and, occasionally nausea and diarrhea.
  • Anti-virals can treat the flu and work the best if they are started within 48 hours of your symptom onset.  If you’re pregnant, over 65, or have any chronic illnesses (such as asthma, emphysema, cancer or heart disease), see your doctor immediately. They may choose to treat you with anti-viral medications.
  • If you are generally healthy, you can call the doctor to see if anti-virals medications are appropriate for you.
  • If you are short of breath, having trouble breathing, or seem to be getting worse with each passing day, call you doctor immediately.


  • Requires antibiotics to treat
  • Characterized by a significant cough which usually produces phlegm, fever, shortness of breath and fatigue.
  • Adults with the flu describe themselves as feeling wiped out and admit to missing more than one day of work “because I just didn’t have the energy to go.”
  • It comes on gradually (unlike the flu), and typically does not cause severe aches and pains like the flu.


  • No fever is typically found.
  • Usually has a productive cough and irritated chest but usually doesn’t make you short of breath or fatigued so you are staying in bed or missing work.
  • If you’re a healthy individual and non smoker, you rarely need antibiotics.
  • If you have asthma, smoke, or any illness that affects your lungs, contact us as you may need antibiotics.

Find out more about Bronchitis from our previous blog post – Bronchitis – What You Need to Know


  • No fever is typically found.
  • Usually does not need antibiotics.
  • Is characterized by thick, colorful mucus and a feeling of a heavy head.
  • Can be treated with over-the-counter therapies (decongestants and saltwater nasal spray) aggressively for seven days. If there is no improvement after 7 days, call us.
If you have the symptoms for pneumonia, be sure to call your doctor or us right away so you can get the antibiotics you need to get better.
Know the symptoms of flu vs. pneumonia. When in doubt – see your doctor or come into to our Urgent Care at the closest location to you.