With pneumonia in the news, we thought we’d take this opportunity to dig deep into pneumonia and bronchitis to help people decipher whether they have pneumonia or bronchitis. Often, the symptoms mimic one another, and it can sometimes be tough to tell which ailment they are suffering from.
Pneumonia versus bronchitis: Which is it?
What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs in which the air sacs fill with pus, that could become solid. It presents in 2 different ways, as either a bacterial infection, or a viral infection. Bacterial pneumonia can be treated by antibiotics, where as with viral pneumonia, one can only treat the symptoms, for comfort. Look for these symptoms with pneumonia, and call your doctor, or come in if you have any of the following. You could be suffering from pneumonia if:
• Your cough is so persistent or severe that it interferes with sleep or daily activities
• You have a high fever
• You have bloody, yellowish or rusty-colored sputum
• The cough lasts longer than a week
• You have symptoms of acute bronchitis and have chronic lung, heart or other medical problems, or are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS
What is bronchitis?
Bronchitis is a respiratory disease in which the mucus membrane in the lungs’ bronchial passages becomes inflamed. It can often be a precursor to pneumonia.
As the irritated membrane swells and grows thicker, it narrows or shuts off the tiny airways in the lungs, resulting in coughing spells that may be accompanied by phlegm and breathlessness. The disease comes in two forms: acute (lasting from one to three weeks) and chronic (lasting at least 3 months of the year for two years in a row). Bronchitis does not usually get treated with antibiotics.
People with asthma may also have asthmatic bronchitis, inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes.
Symptoms of acute bronchitis can include:
• Hacking cough that persists for 5 days or more
• Clear, yellow, white, or green phlegm
• Absence of fever, although a low grade fever may occasionally be present
• Soreness in the chest
If a fever is present (temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), and there are signs that your general well being is affected, such as loss of appetite and generalized achiness, then pneumonia may be the cause of your symptoms.
Symptoms of chronic bronchitis include:
• Persistent cough that produces clear, yellow, white, or green phlegm (for at least three months of the year, and for more than two years in a row)
• Sometimes wheezing, sometimes breathlessness
• Feeling very tired
You cannot be too careful when it comes to pneumonia as it can lead to more serious conditions, especially for those with frail health, the elderly or those with weakened immune symptoms.
See your doctor or come into AFC Urgent Care West Hartford, no appointment needed, 7 days a week from 8am-8pm weekdays, 8am-5pm weekends, or call us at (860) 986-6440