Differences between pneumonia and bronchitis

Differentiating pneumonia  from bronchitis is not always easy for the patient. Depending on the severity, they may have coincident symptoms and the way to prevent both pathologies is the same: avoid tobacco and get vaccinated against the flu and pneumococcus . We will explain the main similarities and differences between this disease and bronchitis.

First, “pneumonia is an infection of the lung tissue caused by viruses, fungi or bacteria, while bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tree, a milder situation in which several causes are intuited,” explains the specialist. The first one is more serious: according to the Seimc data, the mortality rate of pneumonia varies between 1 and 2 percent in outpatients, 8 percent in hospitalized patients and 30 percent in those who require intensive care admission. Bronchitis, on the other hand, can acquire a chronic character and is rarely a leading cause of death. It can be caused by viruses, bacteria or irritants such as smoke, hence not smoking is one of the main preventive measures. So is it in the case of pneumonia. “When the cilia are razed by tobacco, it is much easier to suffer an infection. Avoiding smoking is the first step that must be taken to prevent both pneumonia and bronchitis.

Although it is necessary to go to the doctor to obtain an accurate diagnosis, the symptoms of both pathologies can help the patient to differentiate if the picture presented corresponds to pneumonia or bronchitis.  Pneumonia causes fever, chest pain, cough, expectoration and, in the most severe cases, muscle or bone pain and shortness of breath , what is called dyspnea . In contrast, bronchitis does not usually give fever and is characterized by a persistent cough ,” he says.


Together with the abandonment of smoking, vaccination against influenza and pneumococcus are the most effective measures to prevent not only pneumonia, but also bronchitis, in many cases related to poorly cured catarrhal processes.

The flu vaccine should be administered every year and is especially recommended for people over 65, chronic patients, immunosuppressed patients, health personnel and caregivers of subjects in a risk group. This vaccine is also advised against pneumonia, since the influenza virus can itself trigger it, or facilitate infection by bacteria that can cause this disease. “The pneumonia in which the influenza virus and bacteria are concomitantly involved are especially serious, hence the need for vaccination .

It should be noted, on the other hand, the pneumococcal vaccine , to protect against Streptococcus pneumoniae , the organism that most often causes pneumonia. It is also indicated in the elderly and in the patients of the risk groups. “It is necessary a dose and another one of memory after five or six years .

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