Pneumonitis Vs. Pneumonia

Pneumonitis Vs. Pneumonia

Looking for some information that will help you know more about the difference between pneumonitis vs. pneumonia? You can read the following article and get an overview regarding these two respiratory system disorders.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Jan 27, 2018
One is bound to have a slip of tongue when they try to say the words pneumonitis and pneumonia in one breath. These are two serious respiratory complications, if not treated early on, they can progress into life-threatening conditions. Although, both these conditions affect the lungs, there are some differences between them. As these conditions involve the lungs, it could lead to breathing problems that causes oxygen depletion in the body. Without oxygen, cells in the body begin to die and this leads to fatal consequences. Here, we will attempt to explain these differences between the symptoms and causes of these two respiratory ailments.
An Overview
The debate on pneumonitis vs. pneumonia can be carried out only after one understands each of these conditions individually. The following table will cover points that helps one understand the difference between aspiration syndromes aspiration pneumonia and pneumonitis.
Pneumonitis Pneumonia
Pneumonitis is a term that refers to lung tissue inflammation due to factors other than a microbial infection. Pneumonia is a condition where lung inflammation occurs due to a microbial infection.
Factors that lead to pneumonitis include:
  • Inhalation of asbestos or silica as an occupational hazard.
  • Use of certain drugs like chemotherapy drugs
  • Exposure to different types of mold
  • Inhalation of gastric contents
  • Inhalation of feathers or bird excrement
  • Radiation therapy for treatment of cancer
  • Aspiration of foreign matter into the lungs
Pneumonia is caused by a number of factors that include:
  • Exposure to bacteria, virus or fungal agents
  • A parasitic infection of the lungs
  • Inhalation of toxic chemical gases
  • Physical injury of the lungs
  • Aspiration pneumonia occurs when one inhales foreign matter into the lungs
The symptoms of pneumonitis in adults include:
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Cough
  • Fever
If left untreated it may lead to chronic pneumonitis symptoms:
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent cough
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
Symptoms of pneumonia in adults and children varies greatly. Common signs of pneumonia include:
  • High Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent cough
Pneumonitis is a health condition that is more of a work hazard. People working on farms are at risk of inhalation of aerosolized pesticides, moldy hay particles, etc. Poultry workers or people who breed birds are exposed to feathers, bird droppings and other avian organisms that leads to pneumonitis. Sometimes, patients who receive general anesthesia are at risk of inhaling gastric contents. Use of chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapy also increases the risk of developing pneumonitis. Very young children and very old people who have weak immune systems are at risk of developing pneumonia. Chronic smokers and alcoholics develop pneumonia. Smoking causes paralysis of cilia lining the lungs. Alcohol decreases the ability of the WBCs to fight infection. Diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, emphysema, HIV/AIDS, increase the risk of pneumonia. Many hospitalized patients are at risk of developing hospital acquired pneumonia infection. Exposure to air pollution, toxic fumes, traumatic injury to the chest, cause mucus to accumulate in the lungs and allows bacteria to grow within the chest.
Pneumonitis, if left untreated can lead to irreversible lung damage. It causes the air sacs to become rigid and stiff. This leads to pulmonary fibrosis that can cause respiratory failure, heart failure and death. Pneumonia complications depend on individual health and type of pneumonia. Pneumonia complications include bacteremia, due to bacteria finding a way into the blood stream from the lungs. It can also lead to pleural effusion where fluid accumulates around the lung membranes. Other complications include lung abscess and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
Treatment for pneumonitis includes use of corticosteroids that helps in reliving inflammation, antibiotics to treat bacterial lung infection and oxygen therapy for those having breathing troubles. Patients with gastric contents in the airway will require suctioning of the airway passages. Treatment for pneumonia depends upon the type of pneumonia affecting the patient. Bacterial pneumonia requires treatment with antibiotics. Viral pneumonia generally requires plenty of rest and fluid intake, and a few antiviral drugs may be recommended. Mycoplasma infections require antibiotics for treatment. Antifungal medications are prescribed for those suffering from fungal pneumonia. Patient may be hospitalized in serious cases and given oxygen therapy, if breathing trouble develops.

This was all about the difference between pneumonia and pneumonitis. Both cause inflammation of lungs, but their pathophysiology is slightly different from one another. Above information shows that these are serious respiratory ailments that should not be taken lightly. If one suffers from persistent cough, fever and fatigue, they should seek medical advice immediately.