Know the Difference between Bronchitis and Pneumonia

Although both cause coughing up phlegm and shortness of breath, there are differences between bronchitis and pneumonia. Apart from the location of the inflammation, the difference between bronchitis and pneumonia can also be known through the causes, the severity of the symptoms, and the method of treatment.

Airway inflammation can be caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal infections. Bronchitis is almost always caused by viruses, especially the viruses that cause the common cold and influenza viruses, while most cases of pneumonia are due to a bacterial infection.

Although the most common difference between bronchitis and pneumonia is the most common cause, these two diseases can also occur due to infection with the Coronavirus which is the cause of COVID-19.

The Difference between Bronchitis and Pneumonia Based on the Location of the Inflammation

The human airway starts from the nose, throat, trachea, bronchi, to the lungs. The bronchi are shaped like pipes and branch into smaller sections within the lungs.

Small bronchial branches will be associated with alveoli, namely the tissue in the lungs that is shaped like a bag and filled with air. Within the alveoli, oxygen is exchanged from the air to the blood.

In cases of bronchitis, inflammation occurs in the bronchi and bronchial walls to produce a lot of fluid. As a result, people with bronchitis become difficult or shortness of breath and coughing .

While in pneumonia, inflammation occurs in the alveoli, so that the alveolar sacs that should be filled with air are instead filled with fluid or pus. This makes it difficult for oxygen to enter the bloodstream, and makes people with pneumonia experience shortness of breath and coughing.

Differences between bronchitis and pneumonia in terms of symptoms

Bronchitis tends to cause milder symptoms than pneumonia. Some of the symptoms that mark bronchitis are:

  • Coughing up phlegm with yellowish or greenish color
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath or discomfort in the chest
  • Stuffy and runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Weary, tired, lethargic
  • Lightheadedness

Meanwhile, pneumonia often causes more serious symptoms. This is because the filling of the alveoli with fluid or pus can make it difficult to exchange oxygen from the air to the blood. As a result, the tissues and organs of the body will lack oxygen. If left without treatment, this condition can even be life threatening.

Some examples of pneumonia symptoms are:

  • Coughing up phlegm with yellowish or greenish color
  • High fever (reaching 40.5 0 C) accompanied by chills
  • Hard to breathe
  • A cold sweat
  • Chest pain, especially when taking a deep breath or coughing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lips are bluish due to lack of oxygen
  • Confusion occurs, especially in elderly patients

Bronchitis is generally acute, that is, it appears suddenly and gets worse quickly. This condition usually heals on its own within 1–2 weeks.

Meanwhile, pneumonia usually lasts longer. A person should suspect that the bronchitis he is experiencing has developed into pneumonia if he has a cough that does not improve for more than 3 weeks.

Differences in Bronchitis and Pneumonia in terms of treatment

Treatment of bronchitis and pneumonia is adjusted to the cause of the infection. If it is caused by a bacterial infection, the disease will be treated with antibiotics.

Meanwhile, diseases caused by viral infections usually only require treatment with fever-reducing drugs, consume enough fluids to prevent dehydration , and get plenty of rest.

Since most cases of bronchitis are caused by a viral infection, treatment often does not require antibiotics. This is different from pneumonia which is mostly caused by a bacterial infection and requires antibiotics .

That is the difference between bronchitis and pneumonia. Although both of them cause symptoms of coughing up phlegm and shortness of breath, the symptoms of pneumonia are generally more severe and accompanied by high fever, chills, cold sweats and chest pain.

Some cases of bronchitis can also develop into pneumonia, so a person can experience bronchitis and pneumonia at the same time.

If you experience a cough with phlegm accompanied by high fever, shortness of breath and chest pain, you should immediately see a doctor .

If the doctor says that you have bronchitis or pneumonia, undergo treatment from the doctor and get enough rest, drink lots of water, and if possible, use a humidifier (humidifier) ​​if you live in an air-conditioned room or with low humidity levels.


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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