Bronchitis or Pneumonia; How to Tell the Difference

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Bronchitis and pneumonia are 2 common conditions in the cold weather. Symptoms can be very similar, and the 2 can overlap as well, sometimes making it difficult to decipher which you are suffering from.
At our Hartsdale urgent care center- we often see people who come in wondering if they have bronchitis or pneumonia.

Here are some tips to help you figure out whether you are suffering from acute or chronic bronchitis or full blown pneumonia.
Bronchitis is a respiratory disease in which the mucus membrane in the lungs’ bronchial passages becomes inflamed. It is also a virus and therefore treating it with antibiotics is not recommended.
As the irritated membrane swells and grows thicker, it narrows or shuts off the tiny airways in the lungs, resulting in coughing spells that may be accompanied by phlegm and breathlessness. The disease comes in two forms: acute (lasting from one to three weeks) and chronic (lasting at least 3 months of the year for two years in a row.
Also, it should be noted, that folks with asthma may also suffer from asthmatic bronchitis, a fourth condition in the bronchitis family. So, in reality we are deciphering between 3 illnesses, and degrees of concern. The confusion is understandable.

Acute and Chronic Bronchitis Symptoms can include:
Hacking and persistent cough that lasts for more than 5 days
Clear, yellow, white, or green phlegm
Absence of fever, although a low grade fever may occasionally be present
Chest soreness and/or discomfort
Fatigue
Wheezing
If a fever is present (temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), and there are signs that your general well being is affected, such as loss of appetite and achiness, then it’s possible that pneumonia may be the cause of your symptoms.

Pneumonia symptoms:
fever of over 104
lethargy and severe fatigue
wheezing
symptoms worsen rather than getting better
coughing up blood or a yellowish or rust colored phlegm
shortness of breath

Pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics, and there is a vaccine for it as well, which can be used and is often recommended for folks with compromised immune systems, or for the elderly.