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Difference Between Bronchitis and Laryngitis

What is Bronchitis?

Definition of Bronchitis:

Bronchitis is a condition in which there is an inflammation of the upper respiratory tract, which includes both the trachea (windpipe) and bronchial tubes. This inflammatory condition is often due to an infection.

Symptoms of Bronchitis:

Bronchitis symptoms include chest pain, a feeling of having a tight chest, and a cough

which may or may not produce sputum. The airways become very congested which can result in the person wheezing. A person may remain symptomatic from about 5 days to 21 days.

Diagnosis and causes of Bronchitis:

A physical exam is done and a chest X-ray. The X-ray can be used to exclude other possible conditions. Rhinovirus, coronavirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), parainfluenza and influenza are the usual cause of bronchitis. The most common strains of influenza are type A and type B. Smoking can also cause a great deal of bronchial irritation and conditions like cystic fibrosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can cause a chronic type of bronchitis.

Risk factors and treatment for Bronchitis:

Cigarette smoking increases the chances of getting chronic bronchitis. People who have COPD or cystic fibrosis are also at increased risk. Having an infection in the trachea or bronchi is a risk factor for developing acute bronchitis. Treatment includes taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Beta2- antagonist medications can be given to help to relieve the symptoms of wheezing and the feeling of tightness in the chest. 


What is Laryngitis?

Definition of Laryngitis:

Laryngitis is the disorder in which the larynx becomes inflamed causing a change to the voice. The condition can be acute, lasting for less than 3 weeks or chronic, lasting for longer than 3 weeks. If it is caused by a virus it usually becomes worse within a few days.

Symptoms of Laryngitis:

The most obvious symptom is a change in the sound of the voice and difficulty in speaking. Throat pain, hoarseness and a tickle in the throat may occur. Difficulty swallowing and fever may occur in a bad infection.

Diagnosis and causes for Laryngitis:

Diagnosis is based on a physical examination and a laryngoscopy. Laryngitis can be a result of excessive coughing in people who have pneumonia, bronchitis or influenza. It may also happen in people who use their voice a lot as is the case with most professional singers. Inhaling irritating substances such as cigarette smoke can cause it as can severe allergies. Conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and bulimia may sufficiently burn the throat region to subsequently cause laryngitis.  

Risk factors and treatment:

Risk factors include being a professional singer, smoking cigarettes, being exposed to irritating chemicals or allergens, and having a respiratory infection such as pneumonia, the flu, or bronchitis. The treatment is often aimed at the symptoms so cough suppressants, inhaling steam and resting the voice can all help. Treatment can depend on the cause so someone with GERD can be given medicine to control the acid reflux.


Difference between Bronchitis and Laryngitis

  1. Definition

Bronchitis is when the upper respiratory tract is inflamed. Laryngitis is a condition in which the larynx becomes inflamed.

  1. Symptoms

Bronchitis has symptoms which include wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing, as well as chest tightness. The main symptom of laryngitis is a change in how the voice sounds, along with hoarseness, a tickle in the throat, and soreness. In more severe cases there may be fever present and difficulty in swallowing.

  1. Diagnosis

A physical exam is how bronchitis is diagnosed. Chest X-rays really help to exclude any other causes aside from bronchitis. A physical exam and laryngoscopy are how laryngitis is diagnosed.

  1. Causes

Several viruses such as influenza, parainfluenza, RSV and coronavirus can cause the acute form of bronchitis. A more chronic form of the illness is caused by smoking or illnesses such as cystic fibrosis or COPD. Laryngitis is caused by overuse of the voice or by excessive coughing during an illness. Certain irritants such as cigarette smoking and other allergens can also cause laryngitis.

  1. Risk factors

The risk of getting bronchitis increases if you have a respiratory illness caused by a virus such as the influenza virus, or have cystic fibrosis or COPD. Smoking also increases the risk of bronchitis. Singers are at risk for laryngitis because they overuse their voices. People who smoke or are ill with a cough are also at risk of developing laryngitis.

  1. Treatment

Pain medicine, anti-inflammatories and beta2-antagonists like albuterol are used to treat bronchitis. Treatment of laryngitis involves resting the voice, inhaling steam, and treating the underlying cause of the problem.

Table comparing Bronchitis and Laryngitis


Summary of  Bronchitis Vs. Laryngitis

  • Bronchitis and laryngitis are both inflammatory responses in the respiratory system.
  • Both laryngitis and bronchitis can be caused by smoking cigarettes which irritate the passageways of the respiratory system.
  • Bronchitis in the acute form is often a result of a viral infection such as influenza or coronavirus. 
  • Laryngitis is common in people who sing and overuse their voice and in people who have conditions such as COPD or cystic fibrosis, and respiratory illnesses that cause them to cough a lot. 
  • Bronchitis and laryngitis can be diagnosed by a physical exam.
  • In laryngitis, a laryngoscopy can also be used for diagnosis.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for explaining both bronchitis and laryngitis I think I may have been exposed to the first which caused the second maybe I’ll have to buy cold medicine I only have antihistimine pills and pain reliever

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References :

[0]Roy, Nelson, et al. "Voice disorders in the general population: prevalence, risk factors, and occupational impact." The Laryngoscope 115.11 (2005): 1988-1995.

[1]Sasaki, Clarence T. “Laryngitis”.  Merckmanuals. Merck & Co., 2018, https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/ear,-nose,-and-throat-disorders/laryngeal-disorders/laryngitis

[2]Sethi, Sanjay. “Acute bronchitis”.  Merckmanuals. Merck & Co., 2018, https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/pulmonary-disorders/acute-bronchitis/acute-bronchitis

[3]Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/spring_dew/10936571

[4]Image credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/96/Laryngitis.png/600px-Laryngitis.png

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