Difference Between Pneumonia and Atypical Pneumonia

Infections of the lungs can develop into serious complications. Most of the infections of the lungs are caused by vector germs and organisms. There are several types and levels of severity depending upon the cause of the infections. The two main types of lung infection are pneumonia and atypical pneumonia.

Pneumonia and Atypical Pneumonia

The main difference between Pneumonia and Atypical Pneumonia is that pneumonia is a serious infection and takes time to resolve and may even need hospitalization depending upon the severity while atypical pneumonia is a milder infection and resolves faster than pneumonia and do not even require hospitalization in most cases.

Pneumonia vs Atypical Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an infection caused by several vector germs such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi. The infection mainly affects the air sacs of the kings and causes inflammation in one or both of the lungs. The symptoms of pneumonia are similar to cold and flu.

On the other hand, atypical pneumonia is also called walking pneumonia. It is an infection caused by vector bacteria of many kinds. The symptoms of atypical pneumonia are mild. Sometimes there are no distinct symptoms in atypical pneumonia. The patients usually recover quickly.

Comparison Table Between Pneumonia and Atypical Pneumonia

Parameters of ComparisonPneumoniaAtypical Pneumonia
Cause Caused by numerous vector organisms like viruses, bacteria, fungi Caused by three major bacteria called Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydophila pneumonia, and Legionella pneumophila and rarely by bacteria Chlamydophila psittaci
SymptomsChest pain, fatigue, cough and fever, confusion, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting Persistent cough, fever, cold sweats chills, headache, difficulty in breathing, aches, and pains in the muscles and joints
DiagnosisBlood tests, chest X-ray, pulse oximetry, a test to check sputum, arterial blood gas tests, bronchoscopy, CT scan, and a pleural fluid culturePrevious medical history, a physical exam of pulse, breathing rate, and oxygen levels. Some cases even require CT scan and blood test
TreatmentPrescription of antibiotics, oxygen therapy, fluids, or breathing treatments by a doctor based on the conditionAntibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and other medications depending on the condition
PreventionTaking regular vaccination of pneumonia, and whooping cough. Leading a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and withdrawal from drugs and addiction and maintain distance with other patientsMaintaining distance from people with pneumonia, regular washing of hands, cleanliness, and sanitization in the surrounding, and intake of a healthy diet with plenty of fluids

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection that can inflame the air sacs of the lungs. It is a common infection. The sacs usually fill with pus or fluid which is called the purulent material and that can cause cough, fever, difficulty in breathing, and chills. Pneumonia can be caused by numerous vector organisms like viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other such organisms.

The symptoms of pneumonia are mild at the beginning which can later end up being serious and life-threatening, if not diagnosed at the right stage. The common symptoms are chest pain, fatigue, cough and fever, confusion, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms similar to cold and flu. Pneumonia mainly affects the age of groups of infants and young children or senior citizens over the age of 65. Any individual with a weakened immune system is susceptible to pneumonia.

Pneumonia is contagious if the organisms from the host body affect another healthy body. However, pneumonia caused by fungi is not contagious. People with a history of other diseases, chemotherapy, or transplant of organs, or other neurological conditions can get severely affected by pneumonia. Lifestyle habits or addiction to cigarettes, or alcohol also can increase the risk of pneumonia.

Pneumonia can lead to several complications like bacteremia, trouble breathing, fluid build-up, or even lung abscess. A professional or a doctor can determine the cause and then prescribe antibiotics, oxygen therapy, fluids, or breathing treatments based on the cause of pneumonia. The recovery time depends on the severity of the condition.

What is Atypical Pneumonia?

Atypical pneumonia is also commonly known as walking pneumonia. It is also an infection of the respiratory system. Atypical pneumonia affects the lower respiratory tract. Atypical pneumonia can be caused by bacteria. The most common bacterial atypical pneumonia is Mycoplasma and has common severity and condition as ear and sinus infection.

Atypical pneumonia is a milder version of actual pneumonia. Some people do not even develop any distinct differential symptoms and carry out their daily tasks with little or no difficulty. Some patients do develop mild symptoms like a low-grade fever, sore throat, headache, and even earache.

Infants, senior citizens, patients with a chronic respiratory condition, weak immunity, and addicts of drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol are most susceptible to atypical pneumonia. Atypical pneumonia outbreaks can occur which has the potential to affect a large mass at a given period. The symptoms usually appear at a slow pace than pneumonia.

Atypical pneumonia can even cause complications like Legionnaire’s disease. Some patients have even developed rashes and ear infections after developing atypical pneumonia. Visiting the doctor or professional in the slightest appearance of symptoms is essential so that the infection can be diagnosed. The doctor often prescribes antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Intake of plenty of fluids such as water or herbal tea provides relief. Adequate sleep and rest work wonders in the recovery period.

Main Differences Between Pneumonia and Atypical Pneumonia

  1. Pneumonia is an infection caused by germs and vector organisms like viruses, bacteria, fungi while atypical pneumonia is an infection caused by different types of bacteria.
  2. The symptoms of pneumonia are severe while the symptoms of atypical pneumonia are mild.
  3. Patients with or after pneumonia feel extreme fatigue while patients with atypical pneumonia do not feel extreme weakness and fatigue.
  4. Most cases of pneumonia require hospitalization while cases of atypical pneumonia usually do not require hospitalization.
  5. Pneumonia can cause serious complications like bacteremia, trouble breathing, fluid build-up, or even lung abscess while atypical pneumonia does not cause many serious complications and resolve faster.


Both the infection can advance into serious complications if not treated at the right stage. Since the symptoms of the infections are common as cold and flu, people often go for self-prescription and medicines over the counter. This can further aggravate the problem.

It is essential to visit a professional in the slightest of symptoms, to have the right diagnosis, at the right time. Every disease or infection at the initial stage has a faster recovery period.


  1. https://www.jci.org/articles/view/101369/files/pdf
  2. https://journals.lww.com/co-pulmonarymedicine/FullText/2014/05000/Atypical_pneumonia.7.aspx
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