2 doctors weighed in:
What is the difference between bacterial and viral pneumonia?
2 doctors weighed in

Dr. Michael DePietro
Internal Medicine - Pulmonary Critical Care
In brief: The germ
Bacterial pneumonias are caused by a germs called bacteria, for the most part they can be treated with antibiotics.
Viruses cause similar pneumonias, since viruses are biologically very different ( they live and reproduce by invading a normal cell and incorporating into the cells dna for example) antibiotics do not work, with rare exceptions. ( like flu) symptoms of both are similar though.

In brief: The germ
Bacterial pneumonias are caused by a germs called bacteria, for the most part they can be treated with antibiotics.
Viruses cause similar pneumonias, since viruses are biologically very different ( they live and reproduce by invading a normal cell and incorporating into the cells dna for example) antibiotics do not work, with rare exceptions. ( like flu) symptoms of both are similar though.
Dr. Michael DePietro
Dr. Michael DePietro
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Dr. Latisha Smith
Wound care
In brief: Treatment different
A bacterial pneumonia is treated with an antibiotic active against that particular germ. A viral pneumonia requires an anti-viral agent with activity directed against the causative virus.
The symptoms of both are fever, cough and production of phlegm, and both have a cloudy abnormality seen on xray. Culture of phlegm that is negative for bacteria suggests a viral cause of the infection.

In brief: Treatment different
A bacterial pneumonia is treated with an antibiotic active against that particular germ. A viral pneumonia requires an anti-viral agent with activity directed against the causative virus.
The symptoms of both are fever, cough and production of phlegm, and both have a cloudy abnormality seen on xray. Culture of phlegm that is negative for bacteria suggests a viral cause of the infection.
Dr. Latisha Smith
Dr. Latisha Smith
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