Although we see pneumonia more often in the cold weather, this respiratory illness can strike at any time of the year, and is frequently associated with untreated bronchitis. Often times it can be hard to distinguish whether you have bronchitis or pneumonia because the symptoms can overlap, and in general be very similar. At any time, if there is confusion, you shouldn’t hesitate to be seen by your doctor or one of our AFC providers. If left untreated, pneumonia and bronchitis can become quite serious.
Bronchitis or pneumonia: What is the difference?
Sometimes it’s hard to tell and only a diagnoses from a medical professional can distinguish between the two. Often times people with acute bronchitis can be at risk for contracting pneumonia, a much more serious condition, especially for the elderly, young children, and for people with weakened immune systems.
Bronchitis: Symptoms may include persistent coughing, shortness of breath, chills, body aches, wheezing, sore throat, chest constriction, and chest pain.
Bronchitis also comes in two forms; Chronic Bronchitis (long term, more severe), and Acute Bronchitis (short term, although symptoms may linger after the fact).
Pneumonia: Symptoms may include productive coughing (produces mucus), fever, chills, headache, sweating, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
There are four main types of Pneumonia; Viral Pneumonia (onset by virus, not usually treated by antibiotic), Bacterial Pneumonia (caused by bacterial infection, treatable by antibiotic), Fungal Pneumonia (usually contracted by those who have a weak immune system), and Mycoplasma Pneumonia (also known as ‘Walking Pneumonia’).
Treatment of Pneumonia:
As stated earlier, pneumonia is a much more serious condition than bronchitis, and often morphs from untreated bronchitis. Pneumonia can be diagnosed with blood work and or a chest ex-ray, both of which we can perform at our walk in urgent care centers.
If results of the above tests come back positive, there is a vaccine for pneumonia called the Pneumovax 23 that can be used for people suffering from diabetes, emphysema or COPD.
Treatment for Bronchitis:
Bronchitis is typically a virus, and so in this instance cannot be treated with antibiotics. The best way to treat bronchitis is to help stop the cough and wheezing if that is occurring. Often times, over the counter cough syrups can do the trick, or if the cough is more aggressive, or there is wheezing, the patient can be treated with a prescription steroid. Prednizone is a popular choice for this particular situation.
After that, a few nights worth of a good nights sleep, and letting the respiratory illness fully run it’s course is the best way to deal with more acute versions of Bronchitis.
Please note! Both Bronchitis and Pneumonia are contagious, so if you or a loved one are suffering with either condition and are near someone with a weak immune system, or an elderly person, it is important to practice good hygiene. Keep a safe distance, wear a mask, or at the very least wash your hands often and well.
And of course if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, visit us at AFC Urgent Care New Britain at 135 East Mains Street any day of the week. We are open from 8am-8pm Mondays through Fridays and 8am-5pm Saturdays and Sundays.