It is very difficult to understand the differences between bronchitis and pneumonia. Both are diseases of the lower respiratory system and have an equally adverse effect on pulmonary air passages. Proper knowledge about the difference between pneumonia and bronchitis facilitates correct diagnosis, a factor that is of utmost importance in the effective management and treatment of respiratory disorders.
What is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a severe infection of the lungs in which pus and other fluids fill the alveoli and prevent the free flow of air into the lungs. Due to this, the body does not get sufficient oxygen, and the cells are unable to function normally. Headache, excessive sweating, fatigue, and lack of appetite are some of the symptoms of pneumonia. The condition, if not treated with care, can cause death.
Several factors are responsible for pneumonia; however, the major causes of this condition are bacteria.
– Streptococcus pneumoniae causes community-acquired pneumonia in around 20-60 percent adults and 13-30 percent children.
– Group A or streptococcus pyogenes is also responsible for pneumonia.
– Staphylococcus aureus causes pneumonia in about 10-15 percent of hospitalized people. A fragile immune system and pre-existing viral influenza go hand in hand with this variety of pneumonia.
– Gram negative bacteria causes certain cases of community-acquired pneumonia. It also attacks people suffering from chronic lung disorders and children suffering from cystic fibrosis.
Certain viruses such as SARS (severe acute respiratory distress syndrome) virus, adenoviruses, herpesviruses, influenza viruses, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), and HPV (human parainfluenza virus) also cause pneumonia.
Types of Pneumonia
There are different types of pneumonia.
Atypical Pneumonia: Bacteria are responsible for these types of pnuemonia, including walking pneumonia. A person suffering from this variety could have a dry cough. It is a mild variety, and the patient need not be admitted to the hospital.
Aspiration Pneumonia: In this condition, bacteria are present in the oral cavity. If the bacteria remain in the oral cavity, they are harmless. However, if they penetrate the lungs, perhaps due to a weakening of the gag reflex, they could cause pneumonia.
Opportunistic pneumonia: As long as your immune system is in good condition, you don’t have to worry about contracting this disease. However, people with weak immune systems should take special care not to get infected.
Regional and occupational pneumonia: For example, exposure to chemicals or cattle can cause this condition.
What is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is a disorder characterized by inflammation of the bronchi or air passages that transport air from the trachea to the lungs. Inflammation of the bronchi leads to the accumulation of mucus, which causes the blocking of the bronchial cells. The body then takes refuge in the cough mechanism to get rid of the accumulated mucus. Unfortunately, cough, while it gets rid of excess mucus, also makes the air passages more susceptible to infection. Moreover, if the infection continues, the tissues of the bronchi might get damaged.
Types of bronchitis
Basically, there are two types of bronchitis–acute and chronic bronchitis.
Acute bronchitis is a short-term condition accompanied by a bad flu or a cold. It can keep you in a miserable condition for around two weeks. In certain cases, viral bronchitis can last for 8-12 weeks.
Chronic bronchitis is a long-term condition that can last anywhere from three weeks to two years. It always comes with a danger of relapse. In severe cases of chronic bronchitis, the bronchi get dilated, and this makes the patient more vulnerable to all types of infection. Due to its life-threatening nature, it should be taken seriously, and proper medical care should be taken to keep it in check.
Causes and Treatment of Bronchitis
Around ninety percent of the people contract acute bronchitis due to viral infection. Many cases are also caused due to bacterial infection. If you contract acute bronchitis many times, you might contract chronic bronchitis sooner or later. Infection need not always be the cause for acute bronchitis. If you live in a dirty, polluted area or if you a heavy smoker, you stand a greater risk of contracting chronic bronchitis.
If the condition is due to viral infection, polluted conditions, or heavy smoking, it is of no use taking antibiotics because they can do nothing to eliminate irritants or viruses. Antibiotics are useful only in case of bacterial infection.
It is possible to draw up any number of treatment plans for acute bronchitis. Follow your doctor’s advice, avoid irritants, and adopt healthy patterns of lifestyle.