Bronchitis and pneumonia

Bronchitis and pneumonia are diseases that affect the upper respiratory system. Bronchitis is a condition which is diagnosed by a physician when the bronchi or the air passageways of the lung are raw and inflamed. Bronchitis can be either acute or chronic.

Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a virus. This virus attacks the upper respiratory system first. This means the mouth, nose and larynx and then moves from there down into the lungs. Once the viral process moves into the airways it attacks the bronchi. This is the type of illness that is accompanied by either a cold or the flu that then worsens. It will usually last about a week in duration. The symptoms of acute bronchitis include nasal congestion, a dry cough early on that later produces yellow or green sputum, inflammation of the bronchi, wheezing, and being short of breath. The treatment for acute bronchitis includes rest, fluids, a short round of antibiotics and possibly a steroid inhaler if needed.

Chronic bronchitis on the other hand can last as long as up to three months in duration. It is usually found in smokers or people who have had long term exposure to smoke, dust or fumes. Chronic bronchitis is one of the diseases that is classified as COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Chronic bronchitis has many of the same symptoms of acute bronchitis however is much longer in duration. Those who have chronic bronchitis frequently need medications to keep the breathing passages open such as steroid inhalers or other oral medications that promote opening the airways.

Pneumonia is diagnosed when the infection has spread to the actual lung tissue itself. A person may or may not have a cough when they have pneumonia. The symptoms of this disease include fever, malaise, difficulty in breathing and chest pain. If a cough exists, they will have green or blood tinged sputum upon coughing. Changes in the color of the skin may be noted as well if the blood is not getting enough oxygenation.

Both of these diseases can be diagnosed using diagnostic testing in a physician’s office. Bronchitis can be diagnosed by examining the sputum and by ordering lab work to check the white cell count in the blood. Pneumonia can be diagnosed by using both of the same practices above. In addition a chest x-ray should be ordered to rule out pneumonia. If further testing is needed, a bronchoscopy may be performed to see how much involvement is present in the lung tissue and the airways.

Pneumonia may be treated with either oral, intramuscular or intravenous antibiotics. It may or may not require a hospitalization for treatment. Most healthy individuals will not require a hospital stay but small children or the elderly may require further treatment and may need to be observed further.
Other treatment includes breathing treatments with a nebulizer, steroid inhalers, other medications to promote open airways, antipyretics for the fever, and vitamins to help build up the immune system.

If pneumonia and bronchitis are caused by bacteria then they can be treated by antibiotics however if these diseases are viral in nature, antibiotics are not effective. With a viral illness, palliative care should be given and then disease allowed to run its course. Viral bronchitis usually lasts from one to two weeks while viral pneumonia can last from two weeks up to three months in duration.

Both of these diseases need to be evaluated by a medical professional. If you feel that you have either of these upper respiratory diseases please consult with a medical professional for treatment as soon as possible as delay can make these conditions actually become worse.

Last updated on Apr 17th, 2011 and filed under Respiratory Diseases. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed