You feel extremely ill and have a persistent cough that will not go away. Do you have bronchitis, pneumonia, or neither?

No one wants to be sick during the holiday season. With so many infections going around that present similar symptoms, the quickest way to feeling better is to make sure you are treating the correct illness. So, how would you treat a persistent cough? Is it bronchitis, pneumonia, or nothing to be concerned with?

Bronchitis versus Pneumonia

A bronchitis and pneumonia diagnosis cannot be determined solely based on your symptoms or the way you feel. Both infections make it hard to breathe and cause a distinct and persistent cough, but the infections attack two different parts of the respiratory system. Bronchitis is the inflammation of the tubes that carry air to the lungs or the bronchial tubes. Pneumonia is an infection that settles in your lungs and attacks the air sacs, causing them to fill with fluid and pus.

The two infections have different causes. Typically, bronchitis is a viral infection, while pneumonia can be viral, bacterial, or fungal. This means the course of treatment for the two are completely different. Also, if bronchitis persists for too long, it can become pneumonia. You may need a chest X-ray to tell the difference.

It is important to receive the correct diagnoses to receive the proper treatment.

What is Bronchitis?

There are two types of bronchitis:

  • Acute Bronchitis – This is the infection of the air tubes caused by a virus or bacteria, which will typically go away within two weeks.
  • Chronic Bronchitis – This is a long-term condition caused by repetitive exposure to irritants that keep the lungs inflamed.

The most common symptoms of bronchitis are:

  • Congested or runny nose
  • Fever
  • Chest congestion
  • Trouble breathing
  • A cough with yellow or green mucus
  • Fatigue

For Chronic Bronchitis, symptoms may be more severe during a flare up, including shortness of breath with a cough that lasts for three months or longer.

In most cases, bronchitis will run its course in two weeks or less. It can be treated with different medications depending on the type and cause–viral or bacterial. Some common treatments are:

  • Antiviral medications
  • Antibiotics
  • Steroids
  • Supportive care or rest and fluids

You can prevent bronchitis by keeping the lungs healthy and away from common irritants. To help prevent bronchitis, you can:

  • Avoid smoking
  • Wear a mask when around strong smells from toxic products, like paint
  • Wash your hands often

At Phoenix ER, we provide 24-hour care for accurately diagnosing and treating bronchitis to alleviate your symptoms quickly.

What is Pneumonia?  

Pneumonia can be thought of as the condition where your lungs are clogged. The most common symptoms are:

  • A cough with yellow or green mucus
  • Trouble breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Fever paired with night sweats and chills
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain

Pneumonia treatment is dependent on the cause of the infection–bacteria, virus, or fungus. Some of the commonly prescribed medications are:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antivirals
  • Antifungal
  • Hospital ventilation or supplemental oxygen

Most of the time, pneumonia is not passed from person to person, but people with poor health habits are susceptible. To prevent pneumonia, you can:

  • Get a pneumonia vaccine
  • Do not smoke or abuse alcohol
  • Be aware of your general health
  • Wash your hands properly

At Phoenix ER, we provide 24-hour care for accurately diagnosing and treating pneumonia to alleviate your symptoms quickly.

When to Worry About a Persistent Cough

A cough can be very disruptive to your day-to-day activities and even more bothersome if you notice it is not going away. When you are experiencing a prolonged, disruptive cough, visit a medical professional when:

  • Other symptoms have cleared up and the cough remains
  • The cough lasts longer than eight weeks
  • Experiencing shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Experiencing chest pain

Visiting a medical expert helps accurately diagnose and promptly treat the reason for the disruptive cough.

Experiencing shortness of breath or a persistent cough? Find 24-hour support!

Phoenix ER is here to provide exceptional and compassionate care to ease your symptoms of shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, a troublesome cough, and so much more. Our expert physicians will diagnose you and initiate treatment quickly so you can resume normal, daily activities. Open 24/7, come on in!

Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Phoenix ER and Nutex Health state no content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.  

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