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What’s the difference between pneumonia, asthma and bronchitis?

Urgent Care in Spring Hill

There are many different respiratory diseases that we treat at Urgent Care in Spring Hill. Some of them have similar symptoms, making it hard for a typical person to identify which is which. Sometimes, one disease may lead to another, leaving the patient even more confused. In today’s article, we are sharing the main differences between pneumonia, asthma, and bronchitis to help you understand your symptoms better, give you some ideas on how to treat your respiratory issue, and offer advice about when to seek medical help.


When your doctor tells you that you have pneumonia what he actually means is that the air sacs in the lungs are inflamed, most likely due to an infection, and usually filled with fluid. There are different causes of this respiratory issue: viruses, bacteria or fungus. Among the most common symptoms are coughing, fever, shortness of breath, chills, fatigue, low appetite, chest pain, and excessive sweating.


Of course, if you suffer from any of the following it should be a warning sign that you need to go to the hospital immediately: heart rate of 125 beats per minute or higher while at rest, fever above 105F, or blue lips and fingernails. Pneumonia can be fatal; that’s why it shouldn’t ever be ignored. Pneumonia complications include sepsis, pleural effusion, and empyema.


The treatment greatly depends on the cause. We always recommend antibiotics for a bacterial infection, whereas for viral pneumonia we usually suggest antiviral medications. Remember at Urgent Care in Spring Hill, we strive to provide the best quality care to all of our patients; if your pneumonia is severe, we may recommend you go to the hospital to receive appropriate treatment.


People suffering from asthma have difficulty breathing due to their airways being inflamed, narrowed, and swollen, which leads to the production of an extensive amount of mucus. As a result, the lungs receive less air. Unfortunately asthma, unlike pneumonia and bronchitis, is a chronic disease and will not pass within a week or two. The symptoms usually include coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, fast heart rate, and wheezing. Keep in mind that neglected asthma symptoms may be fatal. The good news is that asthma is manageable. The attacks are always triggered by something: When you avoid the trigger, you decrease the possibility of having an asthma episode.


But what are the triggers? Again, it depends. Some people will be more resistant to certain triggers than others. It may be an allergen (pollen, animal fur, dust, or indoor mold), irritant (smoke, chemical fumes, strong odors), exercise, stress, or even weather. It’s important to reduce your exposure to those as much as possible. Apart from that, patients who suffer from this disease often choose to use inhalers to treat and control their symptoms. At Urgent Care in Spring Hill, we work with our patients to come up with an individualized plan to help them manage their asthma symptoms and increase the quality of their lives.


Another respiratory disease that we treat at Urgent Care in Spring Hill is bronchitis. When patients’ tubes in their lungs (bronchial tubes) become inflamed, it blocks the air and causes a persistent cough. Bronchitis is quite easy to self-diagnose. There are two kinds of bronchitis:

  • Acute – this lasts for several weeks and goes away on its own; it is very contagious and is usually caused by a virus from a cold or the flu.
  • Chronic – this one is more serious and includes coughing with mucus, lasting anywhere from several months to a year; it’s not contagious and usually results from exposure to irritants such as smoke or dust.

Dealing with bronchitis doesn’t require any expensive treatments. All you need to do is get some rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take cough medicine. Aspirin or ibuprofen can be used to reduce fever. Using humidifiers is also a good idea to in order to loosen up the mucus.

The difference between Bronchitis and Asthma

Since the symptoms of both are similar, i.e., coughing, wheezing and chest tightness, it’s quite easy to confuse them. Unfortunately, people with asthma are at more risk of developing bronchitis, and bronchitis in turn may cause an asthma attack. However, there are certain differences between these you should bear in mind. First of all, asthma doesn’t cause fever, chills or body aches. If you aren’t sure which it is or if you suffer from chronic bronchitis or asthma, it’s important to see a physician as soon as possible.1

The difference between Bronchitis and Pneumonia

Bronchitis and pneumonia might be a little bit harder to tell apart. They both cause shortness of breath, coughing, fever, and chest pain. The main difference is that bronchitis affects the tubes in the lungs whereas pneumonia affects the lungs directly. The latter will affect your ability to breathe much more severely. Additionally, bronchitis causes a mild fever whereas pneumonia may lead to a dangerously high fever. Still, the symptoms of these two diseases are very similar, so it’s easy to misdiagnose them. It’s important to see a qualified physician who will be able to recognize what respiratory disease you’re suffering from.2

Are you suffering from a respiratory disease? Visit Urgent Care in Spring Hill!

If you have symptoms of any of the aforementioned respiratory diseases, don’t wait until your condition worsens. Our team of doctors and clinicians will be happy to take care of you and bring you back on your feet in no time. You don’t have to call ahead, simply walk in and you will receive medical help. For your convenience we are open 365 days a year from 8am to 8pm! You don’t have to take any time off work or skip school; simply swing by whenever is best for you!

1 https://acaai.org/asthma

2 http://www.treatingbronchitis.org/bronchitis-vs-pneumonia-and-other-respiratory-diseases/