Are Bronchitis and Pneumonia Dangerous?

February 1, 2024

Both bronchitis and pneumonia share similar symptoms, and it can be hard to tell the difference between them or know what might require medical assistance. A deep cough accompanied by the production of a lot of colored mucus can be a sign of acute bronchitis, but it may also be something else, like a lung infection. If left untreated, both bronchitis and pneumonia can turn into more severe and sometimes life-threatening infections.

At AFC Urgent Care Ooltewah, we have the tools and experience to provide you with a diagnosis and treatment plan. Continue reading to learn more about bronchitis and pneumonia.

What Do Bronchitis and Pneumonia Do to Your Body?

Both bronchitis and pneumonia are infections that affect your breathing but in different ways.  A bronchitis infection settles in the lining of your bronchial tubes which carry air to and from your lungs causing them to become inflamed and swell. A deep cough with a lot of mucus production is a common sign of bronchitis. With pneumonia, the infection settles into your alveoli. Alveoli are little balloon-shaped air sacs inside your lungs that rapidly exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide between your lungs and bloodstream. When the alveoli swell, their efficiency as it relates to oxygen exchange is impaired which leads to a reduction in the amount of vital oxygen moving through your bloodstream.

Bronchitis symptoms tend to be more localized in your chest area, though you may develop a fever due to the infection. The symptoms of pneumonia can be felt more throughout the body and can cause low energy, body aches, and nausea.

Indications of Bronchitis

  • Tightness in chest
  • Severe coughing with clear or green mucus
  • Wheezing
  • Fever

Why Are Infections That Impact Your Airways Dangerous?

Airway infections are dangerous because they can have a serious impact not only on how you feel, and function but also on your ability to get enough oxygen to your extremities and vital organs. Left untreated, bronchitis can develop into pneumonia. If you develop difficulty breathing it is always cause for concern as it may become worse and require medical intervention.

Bronchitis typically does not require medical intervention or prescription medication; however, pneumonia often requires antibiotics. If your pneumonia was caused by bacteria prompt treatment is crucial to prevent the bacteria from entering your bloodstream and spreading to your other organs which can be extremely dangerous.

Symptoms of Pneumonia May Include:

  • A deep cough with greenish, yellow, or even bloody mucus
  • A fever that lasts several days, sweating, and chills
  • Trouble catching your breath
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Sharp or stabbing chest pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or cough
  • Fatigue, loss of appetite, low energy
  • Nausea and vomiting, especially in small children
  • Confusion, especially in older people

Are you experiencing symptoms that concern you? Stop by AFC Urgent Care Ooltewah today.

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