A 36-year-old female asked:
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how can i tell the difference between a viral versus a bacterial infection?

3 doctor answers
Dr. Michael Klein
20 years experience Family Medicine
Often timing or test: There are many different types of viral infections and bacterial infections so it depends on location. by type of infection: sore throat: bacteria can easily be identified with an office test. if negative usually viral sinusitis: after a cold is going on for 7+ days and getting better, suddenly gets worse pneumonia: doctor exam, x-ray, culture flu (viral): type of symptoms, office test
Answered on Dec 8, 2016
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Dr. John Munshower
29 years experience Family Medicine
It can be tough: Doctors often have a hard time telling the same thing. Generally, viral illnesses may produce a low fever, clear colored mucus, generalized fatigue, muscle aches, joint pains and are treated with supportive care and symptomatic relief. There are anti-viral meds for some cases. Bacterial infections may be harsher with higher fever, colored mucus, worsening symptoms, etc. See Doc if concerned.
Answered on Jun 14, 2015
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Dr. David Lipkin
51 years experience Internal Medicine
No simple answer: There are hundreds of known bacterial and viral diseases. Some viral illnesses are mild, others severe. The same for bacterial infections. If you have a specific condition or illness in mind let us know so we can give you some guidance.
Answered on Jan 28, 2015

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