Bronchitis and pneumonia are two different diseases, but they are more similar than you think. That is why one of the most common questions about bronchitis is “Can bronchitis turn into pneumonia?” It is scary to imagine the fact that one disease can develop into another one, right?
The scariest part of this topic is the fact that each illness, on their own, can be pretty deadly when left untreated. So, what more if they are equivalents? The biggest problem is that it can be hard to distinguish bronchitis from pneumonia. In reality, doctors can only diagnose it correctly if it is already severe and all of the symptoms are already present.
With all that in mind, we will figure out the answer to the question “Can bronchitis turn into pneumonia?” Also, we will look into the differences between bronchitis and pneumonia, as well as go through some symptoms and treatments.
What is the Difference Between Bronchitis and Pneumonia?
Bronchitis is an infection of the upper respiratory tract and is a product of a severe cough, colds, and allergy. You are sure you have this when you transition from having a dry cough to having a productive one, which means there is mucus. It can be white, yellow, and even green. Further, you can experience chills and, eventually, fever.
A common symptom is chest congestion. This is the case when the airways are too inflamed that air cannot freely pass through. In addition, there is also mucus that blocks the passageways. You can also feel intense fatigue and even severe headaches. This condition can last from two to three weeks.
Pneumonia, on the other hand, is a type of infection that directly affects the lungs. It usually affects young children and adults 60 years old and above. This disease comes in three forms: viral pneumonia, bacterial pneumonia, and mycoplasma pneumonia. Here are some of the symptoms of the different types:
- Viral pneumonia: high fever with constant chills, chest pain, and yellow or green phlegm (one to three weeks)
- Bacterial pneumonia: fever with a severe headache, dry cough and shortness of breath, and your lips might also turn blue because it is hard to breathe (one to two weeks)
- Mycoplasma pneumonia: headache, cough, fatigue, wheezing, and it gets to the point that you will not be able to sleep (two weeks to a month)
Looking through the details above, the only difference between the two illnesses is the area where the problem originates. For bronchitis, it develops in the airways and tubes that are connected to your lungs while in pneumonia, it develops inside your lungs.
Can Bronchitis Turn into Pneumonia?
There is still no scientific study that proves bronchitis can turn into pneumonia. However, there are cases where this happens. Most of the time, this occurs when your body is too weak to fight off the microorganism that caused your bronchitis, and that same microorganism infects your lungs. So, does that mean that untreated bronchitis leads to pneumonia? That is a yes and a no.
Yes, because just like what we said earlier, the same microorganism will travel to your lungs and infect them. Interestingly, though, the kind of bronchitis that is more likely to develop into pneumonia is the bacterial type. The most obvious symptom that your bronchitis turned into pneumonia is severe wheezing.
Although this is also a symptom of bronchitis, one factor that you need to consider is time. If you are still wheezing that is usually accompanied by a productive cough and fever during the fourth week of bronchitis, this might already be pneumonia.
On the contrary, it is also a no because untreated bronchitis might just develop into chronic bronchitis. Either way, these conditions are both severe and deadly. Just to emphasize the gravity of this ordeal, some complications that might happen include acute respiratory distress syndrome, lung abscess, sepsis, and pleural effusion.
How to Prevent Bronchitis from Developing into Pneumonia?
Here are some safeguards so that you will not develop pneumonia:
- Take your medications: More often than not, antibiotics can be prescribed when you only have acute bronchitis, so you just have to do your part and finish taking them.
- Improve your home environment: You can get a humidifier to lessen the presence of possible irritants.
- Protect yourself: You should stay away from people who smoke. When going outside, you can wear a mask.
- Therapy: There are available therapies that can strengthen your lungs, and undergoing those can help.
- Always consult your doctor: If you feel that you are not getting any better, it is safe to just go back to your doctor.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle: This can help strengthen your immune system. So, eat a balanced diet, exercise, and live a life with less stress.
We have already reached the end of the article, but like how we started, that scary feeling is not far off. Nonetheless, now, you have a deeper understanding of what negligence can cause. That dry cough can easily lead to severe diseases that might lead to death. With that said, you do not have to worry when you get acute bronchitis because only one out of 20 cases lead to pneumonia, so the chances of that happening to you are pretty slim.
Further, it really puts into perspective how easy it is not to let it develop. You just have to treat your illness first, and you will be fine. On another note, now that you know the differences between the two, you can now properly observe the symptoms that you might get. Of course, this is not an excuse for you to just monitor those symptoms because only lab tests can pave the way for accurate diagnosis.
Lastly, we cannot stress enough the importance of going to the doctor as it is your best bet in defeating the development of bronchitis to pneumonia and other illnesses. In fact, based on statistics, almost 50% of people whose bronchitis turned into pneumonia lead to death because they consulted the doctor too late. So, do not ever have that mindset that you can cure everything with over-the-counter medicines and sleep. That mindset right there is deadlier than pneumonia.