The acute bronchitis vs pneumonia debate has long been standing as a lot of people think that these illnesses are mutually exclusive. However, the truth is actually far from this.

As you research and read about bronchitis and pneumonia, you may find a probable causal relationship between the two, but the same thing cannot be said in all aspects. Sometimes, even doctors find it hard to diagnose acute bronchitis and pneumonia since they can only specifically pinpoint what the problem is if the symptoms are already there.

In this piece, we will learn the difference between acute bronchitis and pneumonia. We are also going to take a look at some symptoms as well as some preventive measures and management. Lastly, we will give some helpful tips so as not to aggravate the sickness that you already have.

Acute Bronchitis vs Pneumonia: The Differences

Acute Bronchitis

Bronchitis or acute bronchitis is an infection of the upper respiratory tract that usually results from a cold, severe cough, or allergies. The manifestation of this disease is when you start with a dry cough, and after quite some time, it will turn into a productive one, which means that you are already producing and expelling mucus. Your mucus can be white, yellow, or green, depending on the causative agent.

At the same time, you will also have chills and fever, but the most common symptom is chest congestion. Congestion results from your airways becoming inflamed, thereby making it hard for air to enter. Likewise, the build-up of phlegm or mucus can also block the air passageways.

Due to these, you can also feel intense fatigue and even severe headaches. This sickness may last from two to three weeks.


Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs, and people who are commonly affected by this are young children and adults older than 60 years old. There are three types of pneumonia, and each one of them will manifest different symptoms.

They are the following:

  • Viral Pneumonia: chest pain, high fever with chills, and green or yellow phlegm
  • Bacterial Pneumonia: shortness of breath, fever with a severe headache, bluish lips due to difficulty in breathing, and dry cough
  • Mycoplasmal Pneumonia: persistent headache, wheezing, cough, and fatigue


As you might have noticed, the primary difference is the area where the problem originates. For bronchitis, it develops in the passageways that are connected to your lungs while pneumonia affects the inside of your lungs. Either way, it is still not a good feeling to get either of the two diseases.

How about similarities? We do not have to enumerate all the symptoms because as scary as it might sound, both diseases almost have the same symptoms. If ever you will just base it on symptoms, you can take note of the period of sickness since usually, pneumonia takes a longer time to manifest and develop.

Are They Connected?

Up until now, doctors and scientists are not sure whether bronchitis can eventually turn into pneumonia. The truth is, there are instances that this can happen. Such as the case when your body is so weak to fight off the viruses, and that the same virus thrives in your lungs.

According to some experts, only one out of 20 people have experienced this kind of disease shift. So, for your peace of mind, here are some explanations on how it can or cannot develop into pneumonia:

  • It can usually develop into pneumonia if the kind of bronchitis is bacterial in nature. Most of the time, the bacteria were not previously contained when it was still just bronchitis so they became aggressive and eventually went to the lungs.
  • It cannot develop into pneumonia because there is such a thing called chronic bronchitis, and it is a step above acute bronchitis. This is the next case when the previous disease was left untreated.

With that said, the most obvious symptom which can indicate that your bronchitis turned into pneumonia is severe wheezing. That is definitely easier said than done because even if you only have bronchitis, you can also wheeze. Hence, your best bet to find out what you actually have is to go straight to the doctor.


Here are some tips and tricks so that you will be able to manage your current sickness:

  • Consult a physician: After scaring yourself by searching articles regarding acute bronchitis vs pneumonia, go straight to the doctor. Also, after you have finished taking your medicine, and you still feel symptoms, do not hesitate to consult your doctor again for further examination.
  • Take your medications correctly: Antibiotics are usually prescribed, so take them at the proper time and the right number of days.
  • Improve your surroundings: Having a humidifier at home can help reduce common irritants. Also, be wary of smokers and secondhand smoke. Wearing a mask helps.
  • Therapy: Thank goodness for modern medicine as there are already available therapies for strengthening your lungs, such as pulmonary rehab and oxygen therapy.
  • Develop healthy habits: As cliche as it might sound, you have to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and if possible, live with less stress. Similarly, give yourself a much-deserved vacation once in a while.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the difference between acute bronchitis and pneumonia, hopefully, your paranoia eased up a little. In line with this, we cannot stress enough the importance of going straight to the clinic or hospital to get the opinion of medical professionals.

What we have discussed are just the symptoms and some of the ways that you can manage them and prevent disease progression. However, just like what we said before, even doctors cannot for a fact specify acute bronchitis or pneumonia at a glance. You really have to undergo a series of laboratory, radiologic, and other tests. So, we hope that you treat this article as a general guide only so that you can have a better understanding of the two diseases.

On another note, be mindful of your body. It does not take a doctor for you to know whether you are afflicted with something.

Therefore, before tragedy strikes, you can do some preventative measures, some of which we have already mentioned above. Likewise, nothing beats staying fit and healthy. In fact, doing so increases your body’s immunity against diseases.