With winter in full gear, we thought we’d take this opportunity to dig deep into two respiratory diseases we are seeing a lot of at our urgent care centers, to help people determine 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. Read further learn more about what signs to watch out for, and what to do if you think you may be suffering from one of these respiratory illnesses.
Pneumonia or Bronchitis: What Do I Have?
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 two 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. Treating the symptoms alone will be to the discretion of your doctor, and is purely for your comfort as you body seeks to fight the infection. 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 experience chest pain
- You have head and body aches
- You have bloody, yellowish or rusty-colored sputum
- The cough lasts longer than a week
- You are extremely fatigued
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, if not properly treated.
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 and throat
- Chest constriction and/or pain
- Shortness of breath
Tip: 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 often 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 systems.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor or come into AFC Urgent Care West Hartford, no appointment needed 7 days a week, or call us at (860) 986-6440