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Pneumonia vs Tuberculosis – Differences and Comparison

Pneumonia vs Tuberculosis - Difference and Comparison

Facts

Pneumonia

It represents an inflammation of the airspaces in the lungs, most commonly due to an infection.

The condition may be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi and less frequently by other causes.

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death due to infection in children younger than 5 years old worldwide.

 In the United States, an estimated 1 million people are treated in the hospital for this lung condition each year, and over 50,000 die from it.

Tuberculosis (TB)

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TB is a contagious infection which typically attacks the lungs.

If not treated properly, this disease can be fatal.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, TB reached near-epidemic proportions in the rapidly industrializing and urbanizing societies of North America and Europe.

It is among the top 3 causes of death for women aged 15 to 44.

The WHO estimates that over  9 million people a year get sick with tuberculosis.

Causes

Pneumonia

It is an inflammation of the lung tissue commonly but not exclusively caused by infection from viruses, bacteria, or fungus.

Anyone can develop the condition, however, some groups are at greater risk, including:

  • people aged 65 years or older;
  • babies and toddlers, especially those born prematurely;
  • people who have experienced swallowing or coughing problems following a stroke;
  • people who have had a recent viral infection, like influenza;
  • smokers;
  • people who drink excessive alcoholic beverages;
  • people with suppressed immune systems;
  • people with chronic lung conditions, like bronchitis, asthma, or bronchiectasis.

TB

Pulmonary TB occurs when Mycobacterium tuberculosis mainly attacks the lungs. It is spread through the air, when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or laughs.

However, a person has to be close to someone with the condition for a long period of time to take it.

Risk factors include the following:

  • migration from a country with a high number of cases;
  • HIV infection;
  • diseases which weaken the immune system;
  • low socioeconomic status;
  • crowded living conditions;
  • homelessness;
  • alcoholism.
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Types

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Pneumonia

Fungal pneumonia – fungi from bird droppings or soil can cause this type of pneumonia in individuals who inhale large amounts of the organisms.

Mycoplasma pneumonia – mycoplasmas usually cause mild cases of pneumonia, most frequently in older children and young adults.

Viral pneumonia – it is usually not serious and lasts for a shorter time than bacterial pneumonia.

Hospital-acquired pneumonia – this type of pneumonia develops in the hospital while the patient is being treated for another condition.

Bacterial pneumonia- the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae. Legionella pneumophila and Chlamydophila pneumonia can also cause BP. It may involve just one small section of the lung, or it may encompass the entire lung.

Aspiration pneumonia – it occurs when you inhale food, vomit, drink, or saliva into the lungs. You can aspirate and develop AP if your drink or food “goes down the wrong way.”

Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia – it is caused by a fungus and is occasionally seen in people whose immune system is impaired. The risk of PCP increases when CD4 positive T-cell levels are less than 200 cells/μL.

Tuberculosis

Active TB – the bacteria do cause symptoms and can be transmitted to others.

Latent TB – the bacteria remain in the body in an inactive state. They cause no signs or symptoms and are not contagious, however, they can become active.

Symptoms

Pneumonia

Common symptoms include:

  • headache;
  • cough;
  • muscle pain;
  • rusty or green phlegm, or sputum, coughed up from the lungs;
  • purplish skin color from poorly oxygenated blood;
  • fever;
  • confusion, especially in older adults;
  • shortness of breath;
  • fast breathing;
  • sweating;
  • shaking chills;
  • diarrhea;
  • chest pain which typically worsens when taking a deep breath;
  • vomiting;
  • fast heartbeat;
  • nausea;
  • fatigue.
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Tuberculosis

Common symptoms may include:

  • unexplained weight loss;
  • coughing up phlegm;
  • having chest pains;
  • coughing up blood;
  • having night sweats;
  • having a consistent fever, including low-grade fevers.

Diagnosis & X-Ray

Image credit – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspiration_pneumonia

Pneumonia is suspected when a doctor hears abnormal sounds in the chest, and the diagnosis is confirmed by a chest X-ray.

The x-ray findings of pneumonia are lobar consolidation, airspace opacity, or interstitial opacities.

You may have a chest X-ray to look for changes in the appearance of your lungs that are suggestive of tuberculosis. Also, samples of phlegm will commonly be taken and checked for the presence of TB bacteria.

There are no radiological features that are in themselves diagnostic of primary Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection.

Treatment

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Pneumonia

If you have VP, antibiotics won’t help.

You will need to drink a lot of fluids, rest, and take medicines for the fever. If you have BP, you will need to get antibiotics.

Make sure you take all of the drugs your healthcare provider gives you, even if you start to feel better.

You may need to go to a hospital if your symptoms are severe or if you have other conditions which make you more likely to have complications.

If treatment in hospital is needed, it usually includes:

  • physiotherapy – to help clear the sputum from the lungs;
  • intravenous fluids – to correct dehydration or if the person is not able to eat or drink;
  • oxygen therapy – to ensure the body gets the oxygen it needs;
  • antibiotics that are given intravenously.

TB

The treatment for tuberculosis depends on the type of the infection and drug sensitivity of the mycobacteria. First-line medication used to treat active tuberculosis are INH, RIF, ethambutol, and pyrazinamide.

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For latent TB, the drugs are rifampin, isoniazid (INH), and rifapentine.

Prevention

Pneumonia

  • eat a healthy diet;
  • exercise regularly;
  • get enough sleep;
  • keep your immune system strong;
  • do not smoke tobacco since smoking damages your lungs’ natural defenses against respiratory infections;
  • wash your hands regularly.

TB

  • keep caffeine intake low;
  • eliminate food allergens;
  • avoid alcohol and tobacco products;
  • reduce your stress levels, by practicing meditation, yoga, or Tai Chi;
  • make sure you are eating iron-rich foods as well as foods high in B-vitamins;
  • have healthy sleeping habits – aim for 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night;
  • avoid processed foods, like hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, mayonnaise, margarine;
  • get plenty of antioxidants in your diet, like blueberries, blackberries, red cabbage, ginger, mangoes, or papayas;
  • eliminate sources of trans-fatty acids;
  • eat high-quality protein, such as beans or nuts.

Bottom Line – Pneumonia vs Tuberculosis

Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs which can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi. BP is the most common type in adults.

Due to the fact that it is caused mainly by infectious microbes, this lung condition can be contagious. However, pneumonia which is caused by chemical fumes or other poisons not made by infectious agents is not contagious.

Tuberculosis is a potentially serious infectious disease which mainly affects your lungs.

The bacteria which cause TB are spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via sneezes and coughs. Although TB is contagious, it is not easy to catch.

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC424640/
https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1406330
https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/54/suppl_2/S190/376682
https://www.cdc.gov/pneumonia/epic/publications.html

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