Both bronchitis and pneumonia are very common in the winter months, and at people walking in with bronchitis-like symptoms are often confused, for a good reason, as to whether they are suffering from acute bronchitis, or from pneumonia.
Acute bronchitis and pneumonia share many of the same symptoms, and some people with acute bronchitis are at risk for contracting pneumonia. Although acute bronchitis usually goes away within a few weeks, pneumonia can be a serious, sometimes fatal condition, especially in older adults, or people with compromised immune systems, or if they are on chemotherapy. Both are contagious, so if you or a loved one with either condition are around someone with a compromised immune system, or an elderly person, it is important to practice good hygiene, and to either wear a mask, stay away or at the very least be washing your hands often and well.
Bronchitis is a virus, and so cannot be treated with antibiotics. The best way to treat bronchitis is to help stop the cough and wheezing if that is occuring. That can be done with over the counter cough syrups, or if the cough is more aggressive, or there is wheezing, then the patient can be treated with steroids such as Prednizone.
After that, a few nights worth of a good nights sleep usually helps cure bronchitis.
Diagnosing and Treating Pneumonia:
Pneumonia is a much more serious condition than bronchitis, and can be diagnosed with blood work and or a chest ex-ray.
If positive, there is a vaccine for pneumonia called the Pneumovax 23 that can be used for people suffering from diabetes, emphysema or COPD.
Watch the Medical Minute or come to for more information on the difference of symptoms for bronchitis and pneumonia.