Recognizing Bronchitis and Pneumonia

Girl with pneumonia

Bronchitis and pneumonia are viruses that typically happen during these cold, winter months. You want to make sure you spot the symptoms right away in order to prevent a more serious illness. There is no harm in seeing the doctor if any slight symptoms occur, even if you are not sure. Bronchitis and pneumonia have similar symptoms that people often confuse. You’ll want to know how to tell the difference between the two in order to know how to prevent getting sick, and how to treat your illness right away.

Different Types of Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs that is most often caused by infection with bacteria, viruses, or other organisms. It is easier for people recovering from the flu to get pneumonia because their immune system is weak and vulnerable for bacteria to grow in their lungs. There are many different types of pneumonia that you should be familiar with as you are trying to prevent getting sick this winter:

Bacterial Pneumonia:

This type of pneumonia is caused by bacteria, usually caused when the body is weak in some way by illness, poor nutrition, old age, or decreased immunity. This happens when the bacteria are able to fight its way into the lungs. The most common type of bacterial pneumonia is Strep, short for Streptococcus. Bacterial pneumonia can affect people of any age, but you are at greater risk if you have a weakened immune system, over-consume alcohol, smoke cigarettes, have just had surgery, or have a disease/infection.

Viral Pneumonia:

This type is typically caused by viruses like the flu, and is the most common, and least harmful type of pneumonia. If you have viral pneumonia, you are more likely to catch bacterial pneumonia. Viral pneumonia is more likely to occur in young children over adults because adults have a stronger immune system.

Mycoplasma Pneumonia:

This type can be milder than other types. Another name for it is walking pneumonia. You could have walking pneumonia and not even know it. It is most common in children. It can be a mixture of both viral and bacterial forms.

Other Pneumonias:

There are other, less common types of pneumonia that may be caused by other infections and fungi. People who develop other types also have a weakened immune system.

Different Types of Bronchitis

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the main air passages to the lungs. People who have bronchitis often cough up mucus. It is important to know the difference between the types of bronchitis to figure out just how serious it is. There are two main types of bronchitis:

Acute Bronchitis:

This type is often caused by the same viruses that cause colds, usually starting as a sore throat, runny nose, or sinus infection, then spreads to your airways. Acute bronchitis can also be called a chest cold. It may often come after a common cold, or other viral infections in the upper respiratory tract. Most symptoms last for up to 2 weeks.

Chronic Bronchitis:

This type is a long-term inflammation of the bronchi. It is common among smokers. People with chronic bronchitis tend to get lung infections more easily. This bronchitis often happens with other lung diseases.

Other Types of Bronchitis:

Although there are several different types of bronchitis, the most common are acute and chronic.

Symptoms of Pneumonia

The symptoms of pneumonia may include:


*Chest pain



*Coughing (that will produce mucus)

*Shortness of breath

*Weakness and extreme tiredness

Symptoms of Bronchitis

The symptoms of bronchitis may include:

*Coughing (that will produce mucus)


*Sore throat


*Shortness of breath or wheezing

*Slight fever and chills

*Chest congestion and/or pain


To prevent pneumonia and bronchitis, follow these tips:

*Avoid cigarette smoke

*Get vaccinated

*Wash your hands

*Wear a surgical mask if needed

*Stay away from people who have any illness or infections

Treatment for Pneumonia

Treatment depends on the type of pneumonia you have.

*Pneumonia can be treated at home, but if you have a more serious case, then hospitalization might be necessary.

*Antibiotics are used for bacterial pneumonia, and can speed recovery for other types in some cases as well.

*There is no good treatment for viral pneumonia; it usually gets better on its own.

*Doctors will tell you to eat well, increase fluid intake, get some rest, get oxygen therapy if needed, take pain medication if prescribed by doctor, fever control, and maybe cough-relief medication.

Treatment for Bronchitis

Symptoms should go away within a couple of weeks; however, it may take longer for some people. There are a number of treatments once you get bronchitis.

*Antibiotics usually aren’t helpful when treating bronchitis. Antibiotics are only needed to treat whooping cough or pneumonia

*Doctors will typically prescribe medications called bronchodilators if you are wheezing.

*Decongestants may help relieve symptoms of bronchitis.

*Your doctor will tell you to drink more fluids to help thin mucus in the lungs, rest, and soothe your airways by increasing humidity in the air with a humidifier.

Visit Bethel Beyond Urgent Care

Although bronchitis and pneumonia both cause similar symptoms, they are significantly different. Only a healthcare professional can determine which treatment is right for you. If you have any questions about our services, please contact us at 203-617-0319, and if you find yourself with an urgent health issue, please visit us at our Bethel location! We are open 7 days a week. No appointment needed, just walk right in!