These days I have been hearing a lot about walking pneumonia. But knowing if it is walking pneumonia or bronchitis, is a question faced by a number of people. Let’s find out what is the difference between the two ….
Winters are the time when people are most affected with illnesses like, pneumonia, bronchitis, flu, etc. To be more precise, people suffer from respiratory disorders during winters. People with asthma suffer the most due to these conditions. Most people with visible symptoms wonder if they are suffering from walking pneumonia or bronchitis, as it is difficult to find out the exact difference between the two conditions.
Though walking pneumonia and bronchitis are not synonymous, the common thread between them is that both affect the lower respiratory system and if ignored, they can cause harm to pulmonary air passages. To be more precise, they both affect the airways that go towards the lungs.
A severe infection of the lungs is called pneumonia and the infectious form of pneumonia is called walking pneumonia. There are many factors that can cause a pneumonia infection, however bacteria is usually the main cause. It can also be caused by fungi, viruses and protozoa.
In a pneumonia infection, the airways get filled with liquid, making it difficult for the normal flow of oxygen. Due to less supply of oxygen, the cells in the body fail to work to their optimum. Less supply of oxygen along with the infection, can sometimes be fatal.
The symptoms of walking pneumonia are:
Loss of appetite
Causes and signs of walking pneumonia
Walking pneumonia is caused by mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria and it falls under the category of atypical pneumonia. Though it is a mild form of pneumonia, it can be bothersome, as it can linger for a month or more. The most apparent of the signs is cough. Hospitalization is not required to treat this condition. Only in very rare cases it becomes life-threatening.
It gets the name ‘walking pneumonia’, as the person is diagnosed with pneumonia, but apart from cough, very few symptoms exist and the person does not have to be hospitalized. The patient is effectively ‘walking with pneumonia’. The other pneumonia symptoms including sore throat, headache, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, etc., are rarely seen. In extreme cases, the person may suffer from an ear infection.
Bronchitis is a disease which affects the bronchi, where acute inflammation of the air passages is noticed. In most cases, the inflammation results due to an infection. Air is carried from the trachea into the lungs with the help of the bronchi. Infection and inflammation due to irritation, damage the cells present in the bronchi.
The cilia present on the cells are responsible for trapping and removing the inhaled foreign bodies. A blocking of the cilia results in an obstruction in the airways and debris can no longer flow easily. Mucus, which resembles cough, is then produced.
Types of bronchitis
There are two main types of bronchitis, namely acute and chronic. Acute bronchitis lasts for about ten days, whereas chronic bronchitis may last for three months or more.
The symptoms of bronchitis are:
Cough with or without sputum
Shortness of breath
Walking Pneumonia or Bronchitis?
Now let’s turn towards the arguments in the walking pneumonia vs. bronchitis debate. Your health care professional will be in a position to diagnose whether you are suffering from walking pneumonia or bronchitis. The symptoms of walking pneumonia are similar to common cold and flu, namely consisting of fever, sore throat, and headaches.
Other symptoms include enlarged lymph glands, muscle aches, trouble in breathing, skin rashes, etc. On the other hand, the symptoms of bronchitis are cough with white, yellow or greenish mucus, headaches, chills, fever, wheezing, sore throat, and soreness in the chest.
Along with the symptoms, an X-ray of the chest might be required to diagnose walking pneumonia or bronchitis. The X-Ray may also be helpful in finding and diffusing infiltrates. The best way to treat walking pneumonia is by taking plenty of rest and fluids.
Antibiotics may also be required if the condition persists for a long period. It is important to note that walking pneumonia may be contagious, although it might be treated by antibiotics. To treat bronchitis, cough suppressant is prescribed.
Inhalers may also be used to open the airways and decrease wheezing. Vitamin C supplements are also used to treat bronchitis. It helps in improving the symptoms of bronchitis in a few days time.
In very rare cases, antibiotics are prescribed, especially if the bronchitis is caused by bacteria.
It is difficult to correctly diagnose whether a person is suffering from walking pneumonia or bronchitis, at home. You should always consult your health care professional to get the right diagnosis and the treatment for the same. It is best not to neglect either of the condition to prevent the symptoms from flaring.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be considered as a replacement for an expert advice.