Bronchitis Vs Pneumonia
Throughout my life, I’ve come across people who have experienced a cough. I’ve also been affected by cold or flu which produces a cough occasionally. There is however a friend of mine who was recently diagnosed with bronchitis. He had decided to visit a doctor after his cough didn’t subside after weeks of flu. Being a smoker, he was advised to stop smoking. At least he’s another of my buddies that aren’t smoking anymore. While discussing his condition, he informed me that the doctor had tested him for both bronchitis and pneumonia as both have similar symptoms. I thought about investigating about the similarities and differences between the two conditions and this is what I found.
Bronchitis is the inflammation of the bronchioles. These are the airways that connect the lungs to the trachea. The inflammation can be caused by different factors including viruses, toxins, dust and cigarette smoke as was the case with my friend. This condition usually follows a flu attack where the body’s immune system isn’t able to completely get rid of the influenza virus. Bronchitis can be acute or chronic. The difference between the two is the duration which the symptoms last. For acute bronchitis, the symptoms usually last for less than three weeks and usually resolve by themselves. In chronic bronchitis, symptoms usually last for months and it doesn’t have a cure.
Pneumonia is an infection of lung tissue. It’s usually more serious than bronchitis and is caused when infection of the bronchioles spreads to the lungs. There are two types of pneumonia. The first is infective pneumonia which is caused by either a bacterial or viral infection. The second is non infective pneumonia which is caused by inhalation of toxins and chemicals.
The symptoms of both conditions are more or less similar. The main symptom is a cough that’s usually accompanied by mucus. In severe cases, the mucus can be blood stained. Another symptom is shortness of breath due to the blockage of airways and lungs by mucus. Other symptoms include wheezing and fever.
Doctors will use several methods to differentiate between the two conditions. These include the following. First, the doctor will use a stethoscope to listen to the wheezing noise in the chest. Wheezing will either emanate from the bronchioles or lungs. Second, the doctor will take a sample of the sputum to identify the bacteria or virus causing the condition. Third, the doctor will take an x-ray to identify the location of the infection.
There are certain groups of people believed to be at the highest risk of developing these conditions and they include the following. Smokers are one of the high risk groups. Cigarette smoke irritates and gradually destroys the lining of the respiratory system. This exposes the bronchioles and lungs to infection. Persons regularly exposed to airborne toxins and chemicals are also at risk of developing these conditions. Another high risk group is persons with a weak immune system. These include those with HIV, diabetes, the elderly and people who are alcohol dependent.