Bronchitis and pneumonia can feel very similar when you have a persistent cough that just won’t go away. Knowing the differences between the two lower respiratory illnesses can help with treatment options and can get you feeling your best again. It is important to monitor both illnesses for the severity of symptoms. Our trained physicians at AFC Urgent Care Malden can help give you the best care and recommendations on medications that can help alleviate symptoms.
Differences between bronchitis and pneumonia
Bronchitis affects the bronchial tubes, whereas pneumonia affects the lungs. They are both infections of the lower respiratory system, but they do impact different areas. Symptoms of pneumonia are normally more severe than bronchitis. The biggest difference in symptoms is that you are more likely to get a high fever and chills with pneumonia. Patients can still develop a fever with bronchitis, but the biggest indicator of acute bronchitis is having a persistent cough that produces phlegm and chest congestion. Pneumonia causes you to be extremely fatigued and can still have a cough that produces phlegm.
When to call the doctor
Pneumonia is a severe illness that can be life-threatening. It is important to keep track of your symptoms and understand when you should seek medical attention. With pneumonia, if you have a fever that stays at 102 or higher, trouble breathing, or consistent chest pains, you should call your doctor. For acute bronchitis, the cough can last a few weeks. If it lasts more than three weeks, you have a fever over 100 degrees, or you have trouble sleeping, you should seek medical attention.
Treatment options for bronchitis and pneumonia
Acute bronchitis does not have a specific treatment if it is caused by a viral infection. If it is caused by bacteria, your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic. Otherwise, getting plenty of rest and staying hydrated can help speed up the recovery process. Unless recommended by your doctor, or if you are having trouble sleeping, avoid using cough medicine. Coughing helps clear any mucus from your system.
For pneumonia, the same idea as bronchitis applies. There is no specific treatment that can help with pneumonia, but there are ways to help alleviate symptoms. This also includes getting plenty of rest and drinking many clear fluids. If you have a fever, fever-reducing medications can help bring it down and make you feel better. Both illnesses usually clear up within a few weeks, while cough and overall fatigue can last a bit longer.
For more information on staying safe and healthy this winter, call AFC Urgent Care Malden at 781-322-7300.