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Bronchitis Vs Pneumonia: How Do They Differ?

Bronchitis and pneumonia are two of the most common respiratory problems affecting many people both young and old. But many get confused about these two as they share a number of seemingly similar symptoms. As I study more about biology, I became aware that they are way completely different. It is important that people should know their differences because it concerns their health. Only proper diagnosis can lead to proper treatment.

Here is a more detailed presentation of the differences between bronchitis vs pneumonia.

Definitions

Bronchitis is an inflammation in the bronchial tubes or bronchi, a part of the respiratory system responsible for carrying air into the lungs. Two types of bronchitis are acute and chronic bronchitis. Pneumonia, on the other hand, is an infection affecting the tissues of the lungs which more often results to the accumulation of pus or fluid in the air sacs. Between the two, pneumonia is a more serious condition especially since it affects older people.

Risk Factors and Causes

Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis is commonly caused by viral or bacterial infections. It was also observed that people who have suffered from respiratory infections or colds are more likely to develop acute bronchitis. As for chronic bronchitis, it normally develops as a result of long-term inflammation and irritation of the bronchi, more commonly as a result of smoking. Exposure to secondhand smoke from cigarettes, toxic fumes and dust also poses the same risk of developing this condition.

Pneumonia

Pneumonia may be caused by a number of factors including viral or bacterial infection, parasites, fungi, exposure to pollutants and inhalation of toxic substances. People who suffer from flu complications may also develop pneumonia. In addition, other causes of pneumonia include lung injury, health conditions that compromise the immune system, exposure to pollutants such as smoke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and the use of inhaled corticosteroids for a long period of time.

Symptoms

1. Cough

Bronchitis

  • Dry cough which initially does not produce mucus
  • Yellow, green or clear mucus may start appearing after a few days of dry cough
  • Mucus may have traces of blood

Pneumonia

  • Cough brings up mucus right from the start
  • Mucus may be green, rusty or tainted with blood

2. Fever

Bronchitis

  • Fever, if present, is only mild

Pneumonia

  • Fever is often 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher

3. Other Symptoms

Bronchitis

  • Chest x-ray usually appears normal
  • Condition goes away in three weeks or less

Pneumonia

  • Breathing may be recorded at a rate of more than 24 breaths per minute
  • Heart rate may reach higher than 100 beats per minute
  • Chills
  • Chest x-ray appears abnormal
  • May last for more than three weeks

Treatment

Bronchitis

Antibiotics are one of the usual bronchitis remedies if the condition is caused by bacterial infection, while treatment for bronchitis caused by viral infection depends on the type of virus. In addition, inhalers and certain medications for inflammation are also prescribed for patients with chronic bronchitis. In some cases, pulmonary rehabilitation that involves an exercise program for breathing may also be recommended.

Pneumonia

The same with bronchitis, if the pneumonia is caused by bacteria, treatment involves taking antibiotics. For viral pneumonia, antiviral drugs are given. Cough medication are also often given as a relief for congestion.

It is easy to confuse one condition over the other if you are not aware of the symptoms of bronchitis and pneumonia. But regardless of the condition you may be suffering from, you will need to see your doctor as soon as possible.