Bronchitis and Pneumonia: What’s the Difference?


Bronchitis and pneumonia are common illnesses in the United States and around the world, but they are different both in how they spread and how serious they could be. However, they do share numerous symptoms, which makes each illness difficult for the average individual to identify on their own. Although both can strike the average person and leave them bedridden for a few days, it’s important to know which one is which and when the illness becomes so severe that it’s time to visit the emergency room.


Bronchitis, at its core, is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes that transport air to the lungs. The inflammation can be caused by a variety of factors, including general irritation from dust, bacteria, or a virus. In most cases seen in the United States, bronchitis is caused by a strong virus that cannot be treated with antibiotics.

The most common symptoms of bronchitis are a persistent and rattling cough, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and a low fever. The illness can be acute, meaning it lasts for a couple of weeks, or chronic. In chronic cases, bronchitis recurs again and again, with periods of health in between each instance.

Since a virus often causes bronchitis, there is little doctors can do to treat the illness besides symptom management. Sometimes, recommendations will be prescribed or recommended, and severe sufferers might need to wear a mask to improve airflow to the lungs.


Pneumonia is a far more serious illness and is an infection in the lungs caused by fungi, bacteria, or a virus. Most cases tend to be caused by bacteria that spread rapidly and make it difficult for patients to breathe. Sometimes, the bacteria will spread to the nose and sinuses, further decreasing a sufferer’s ability to get adequate air to their lungs.

Like bronchitis, pneumonia exhibits symptoms like a persistent cough, fever, shortness of breath, and chest pain. The cough will include more mucus, and the fever can run high, making it dangerous for pneumonia to go untreated.

A major concern for anyone who suffers from pneumonia is cell death caused by a lack of adequate oxygen supplies being taken in and transported through the bloodstream. For this reason, doctors strongly recommend that anyone who might have pneumonia seek treatment like antibiotics, masks to improve the airflow to the lungs, and fever reducers.

How to Tell the Difference Between the Two

As one can see, the main danger of bronchitis and pneumonia is that both illnesses affect the respiratory system and how well sufferers can breathe. The main difference between the two is that bronchitis is an inflammation of the airways that leads to swelling, while pneumonia is a bacterial infection in the lungs themselves. Both illnesses can be caused by bacteria and treated with a dose of antibiotics. Still, those won’t always work on bronchitis unless the doctor can isolate the inflammation as being caused by bacteria itself.

If you have not been to a doctor, there are a couple of ways to tell the difference between the two. The primary symptom of bronchitis is an irritating cough accompanied by a telltale rattle in the lungs. A doctor will be able to hear the rattle using a stethoscope. When someone has pneumonia, they frequently suffer from high fever and symptoms like weight loss.

Unlike bronchitis, pneumonia can be life-threatening and is a disease people have and often die from when left untreated. If you or someone you know is experiencing the symptoms of pneumonia with increased severity, then it’s time to see a doctor as soon as possible. The best way to do so is by visiting a 24-hour emergency room in your area, especially if the sick individual is a child or elderly.

When to Go to an Emergency Room

When bronchitis or pneumonia gets out of hand, it’s important to seek out an ER near you capable of handling the situation and administering immediate treatment. For 24-hour emergency care in the Temple area, consider visiting Express ER. This 24-hour emergency room is located in zip code 76504 and is capable of administering proper and reliable treatment for both illnesses.

Express Emergency room temple blog info graphics
Tag Post :
Share This :

Recent Post

24 Hours Emergency Call

We welcome all private health insurance plans. Open 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week


Our Locations

Waco Express ER

Harker Heights Express ER

Temple Express ER

Abilene Express ER

Click to listen highlighted text!