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Pneumonia and bronchitis are both respiratory conditions that can affect your breathing, cause a painful cough, and be accompanied by cold or flu-like symptoms. What is the difference between pneumonia and bronchitis? One big difference is where it develops in your body. Pneumonia develops in your lungs, while bronchitis develops in the airways that lead to your lungs. Pneumonia can be viral and fungal, but it is most commonly bacterial in adults, which means it can be treated with antibiotics. On the other hand, bronchitis that is typically viral cannot be treated with antibiotics. Compared to acute bronchitis, pneumonia typically has more severe symptoms. However, it’s important to keep an eye on bronchitis which can turn into pneumonia.
Despite this information, some of the similar symptoms can still make it difficult to know whether you or someone you care for has bronchitis or pneumonia. A doctor can make an accurate diagnosis, but there are a few things that can help you further understand the symptoms of both.
Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes that carry air to your lungs. The walls of the bronchi become swollen and filled with an extra sticky mucus that partially blocks airflow in and out of your lungs, causing a cough that can bring up mucus. There are two types of bronchitis, and the primary difference is how long symptoms last.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. The lung’s air sacs (alveoli) become inflamed by germs and can fill with fluid or pus. This causes them to be less stretchy and makes it harder for oxygen to properly reach the blood stream. Pneumonia can also be caused by viruses or fungi – and these types do not respond to antibiotics; however, bacterial pneumonia is the most common type in adults and can be treated with antibiotics.
The most common symptoms of pneumonia can include the same symptoms of bronchitis:
But may also include:
While anyone can get pneumonia, infants under the age of two, adults over the age of 65, and people who have chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease) are most at risk due to a weaker immune system that may not be strong enough to fight the infection. Your health insurance coverage, including Medicare Part B and Medicare Advantage (Part C), covers some vaccines and immunizations that can help prevent infection by some of the bacteria and viruses that can cause pneumonia, including:
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Last Revised 11/15/2017