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Difference Between Pneumonia and Bronchitis

Pneumonia vs Bronchitis

Both bronchitis and pneumonia are serious diseases affecting the lower respiratory tract. They can lead to a lot of discomforts and, if left untreated, may cause other serious conditions. There are a number of differences between the two. Understanding these differences will help you identify the two.



Pneumonia manifests itself in the form of high fever, cough and chills. It is accompanied by rapid breathing and a certain amount of wheezing. The patient often complains of chest pain. Some patients also feel extremely exhausted and nauseous. The symptoms of viral pneumonia often resemble those of ordinary flu. There are chills and high fever. It is often accompanied by chattering teeth. It may also produce sputum that is green, yellow or rust colored. Pneumonia becomes apparent when the patient experiences a shortness of breath.

Bronchitis manifests itself as a cough with headache, chills and a slight fever. A patient may also experience a shortness of breath.

Different reasons

Pneumonia and bronchitis are caused by different factors. Bronchitis occurs when there is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes. It may be caused by a number of factors, including a bacterial or viral infection. It is also caused by irritation originating from pollution and smoke. Bronchitis may be chronic or acute in nature. Chronic bronchitis occurs over a period of time. Acute bronchitis may last for a few days. However, it is usually cured with the help of antibiotics. Pneumonia is caused by an infection of the lungs. It may be caused by bacteria, fungi or by a virus. It usually affects people over the age of 65, or people who have had their immune systems compromised.

Differences in treatment

The treatment for bronchitis is relatively simple. Once the doctor has identified the reasons for the infection, he will put you on a course of antibiotics. You will be advised rest and you will need to avoid pollution and smoke. Pneumonia is more of a serious affliction. If you have been diagnosed with this disease, you will be prescribed a strong antiviral or antibiotics. If the condition worsens, the doctor may advise that the patient be removed to the hospital and additional breathing apparatus installed. You may be hospitalized anywhere between one and three days, depending on the seriousness of your condition.

Pneumonia is a serious medical condition and requires urgent medical attention. If the patient suffers from difficulties in breathing and begins throwing up sputum, you should seek immediate medical attention.


1. Patients suffering from pneumonia will have a high fever, difficulties in breathing and wheezing. Bronchitis has similar symptoms, but the patients have a lower temperature.
2. Bronchitis is caused by an inflammation of the bronchial lining. It may occur due to a bacterial or viral infection. However, pneumonia is caused by an infection of the lungs.
3. The treatments for the two also vary. Bronchitis may be treated by antibiotics. However, a patient suffering from pneumonia may have to be hospitalized. He is generally advised very strong antibiotics or an antiviral.

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  1. Medscape Medical News
    Antibiotic Scripts for Bronchitis Common Despite Guidelines


    Your article states that bronchitis “is usually cured with the help of antibiotics.” The Medscape article from 5/21/2014 suggests otherwise.

    From the Medscape article “Physicians are prescribing antibiotics for acute bronchitis at rates between 60% and 80%, despite guidelines and educational efforts that say the rate should be zero, according to a research letter published in the May 21 issue of JAMA.”

    Please update the content of this article.

  2. Agree with other comment. Antibiotics are not prescribed to treat acute bronchitis because it is usually caused by a virus. Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses and using them to treat a viral infection only leads to antibiotic resistance. Occasionally, bronchitis is caused by a bacteria and if your health care provider believes this is the case, she may prescribe antibiotics to treat it at that time. More often, however, treating acute bronchitis simply means finding relief from the symptoms until the illness resolves.


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