Bronchitis and pneumonia are 2 common conditions in the cold weather. Symptoms can be very similar, and the 2 can overlap as well, sometimes making it difficult to decipher which you are suffering from.
At our Hartsdale urgent care center we often see people who come in wondering if they have bronchitis or pneumonia.

Here are some tips to help you figure out whether you are suffering from acute or chronic bronchitis or full blown pneumonia.

What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is a respiratory disease in which the mucus membrane in the lungs’ bronchial passages becomes inflamed and irritated.

As the irritated membrane swells and grows thicker, it narrows or shuts off the tiny airways in the lungs, resulting in coughing spells that may be accompanied by phlegm, wheezing and/or breathlessness. The condition has 2 variations: acute (lasting up to three weeks) and chronic (lasting at least 3 months of the year for two years in a row).

It should be noted that folks with asthma may also suffer from asthmatic bronchitis, a fourth condition in the bronchitis family. In reality we are deciphering between 3 types of the illnesses, and levels of concern. The confusion is understandable.

Acute and Chronic Bronchitis Symptoms often  include:

  • Hacking and persistent cough that lasts for  5 days or more
  • Clear, yellow, white, or green phlegm
  • Chest soreness and/or discomfort
  • Lack of energy
  • Wheezing

If a fever is present (temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), and there are signs that your general well being is affected, such as loss of appetite and achiness, then it’s possible that pneumonia may be the cause of your symptoms.

Pneumonia symptoms often include:

  • fever of over 104
  • lethargy and severe fatigue
  • weakness
  • wheezing
  • lack of appetite
  • symptoms get worse rather than getting better
  • persistent coughing up blood or a yellowish or rust colored phlegm
  • trouble breathing

Pneumonia is a serious illness and should not be taken lightly. It  can be treated with antibiotics, and there is a vaccine for it as well,  the pneumococcal vaccine,  which is often recommended for the elderly of for people with compromised immune systems.

Remember that both bronchitis and pneumonia are contagious. If you are a loved one has these symptoms and are around an elderly person or someone with a suppressed immune system , it is very important to try and guard them from your symptoms by using good hygiene: washing hands frequently, wearing a mask, or staying away from them if at all possible until you are better.