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HOW TO DIFFERENTIATE PNEUMONIA FROM COVID 19?

While the impact of coronavirus is on the rise, one of the most important mistakes done in the initial stage is not recognizing the actual symptoms of the illness. There have been many instances of misdiagnosis in the early days, where COVID 19 was dismissed as pneumonia.

So, does this mean that every single person having pneumonia is infected by the coronavirus? No, there can be also some people who are suffering from pneumonia but are not infected by COVID 19. It is important to understand the thin line that differentiates both of them. 


1. What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an illness in which the air sacs of the lungs get filled up with liquid and hence inflammation is noticed in the lungs. This causes difficulty in breathing, cough, and chest pain that also leads to other issues such as chills, fatigue, and fever. 
There are also some people who may experience some other symptoms too such as loss of appetite, and nausea followed by vomiting. 

In general cases, doctors will prescribe pain relievers and medicines for cough and fever. It is only in the extreme situation that the patients may have to shift to the hospital and have to be kept under a ventilator. 

Pneumonia can occur due to common cold, and flu. But there are also a number of times when bacterial infection or viral infection can cause trouble too. This is the reason; COVID 19 is one of the reasons that is said to cause pneumonia. 


2. Pneumonia caused by COVID 19

When pneumonia is caused by the novel coronavirus, it is called NCIP or Novel Coronavirus infected Pneumonia. The World Health Organization shortened the name of coronavirus disease 2019 to COVID 19. (Source: WebMD)
If a patient has pneumonia and is a COVID 19 positive, the symptoms will be slightly different than normal pneumonia. The symptoms of pneumonia in a COVID 19 patient are:

a. Rapid heartbeat
b. Rapid breathing
c. Shortness of breath
d. Heavy sweating
e. Dizziness

COVID 19 can be mild or can be severe. In most of the mild cases, the patient is affected by cold, fever, sore throat, and a minor breathing issue but they can be kept under quarantine with correct isolation measures. On the other hand, people having severe conditions are likely to have pneumonia that makes the situation much worse. Patients who have got pneumonia have to be kept under a ventilator due to shortness of breathing and other complications taking place. 


3. Major Differences between COVID 19 and Pneumonia

Recently many medical experts and laboratories have run tests and experiments to know the difference between COVID 19 infected Pneumonia and the normal Pneumonia. IDSA has come up with a detailed understanding through CT scan images and others to explain how both have some of the major differences. 

Here are some of the common factors that differentiate Pneumonia from COVID 19. 

a. Contagiousness:

One of the major differences between both the ailments is that Pneumonia without the infection of coronavirus is not contagious. It only happens when a person is exposed to extreme cold or is suffering from the flu. On the other hand, COVID 19 is highly contagious in nature and it spreads from one person to another. Even if you come in contact with a surface or item that has the virus, you will get infected by the virus. 

b. Infection Category:

Doctors and experts across the world have come up to the conclusion that normally Pneumonia infects one part of the lung. Whatever symptoms a patient will have such as shortness of breath, nausea, and others will be because one part of the lung is being infected. But in the case of COVID 19, the whole lung gets infected. This leads to other complications too such as rapid heartbeat, difficulty in breathing, and so on. This also is the reason that a patient who is COVID 19 positive and has got pneumonia has to be kept under a ventilator. In patients with COVID 19, the amount of neutrophils is much higher that also leads to lung damage. 

c. Aggressiveness:

Another way to differentiate both the illness is by the aggressive factor of the infection. When it is just Pneumonia, the spread of the infection can be controlled by medicines and other remedies. But in COVID 19, the infection is much aggressive and it covers up the whole lung at a much faster rate making it difficult for medication to work. 

d. Damage to other organs:

When a patient is affected by just Pneumonia, it is only the lungs that get infected. Doctors will provide medicines that are helpful in reducing the infection and inflammation of the lungs. When it has been noticed in many of the researches and studies such as that of IDSA that Pneumonia caused by COVID 19 not just damages the lungs but also other organs of the body also such as the liver. 

e. Medication:

Doctors and other medical experts can treat Pneumonia with the right dose of antibiotics combined with other medicines. But there are no medicines or vaccines out yet for treating COVID 19. 

Thus, there are a number of ways how Pneumonia is much different from COVID 19. The COVID 19 Pneumonia can be extremely dangerous and it can be also life-threatening at times if the patient is not kept under medical support and ventilator. There are no vaccines or medicines discovered as of now and the best way is to maintain social distancing and proper hygiene to prevent coronavirus from spreading out further.

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