Is it Asthma, Bronchitis, or Both?

What is Asthma

When you have asthma, your airways may enlarge, narrow, and produce more mucus. This may lead to a variety of breathing problems, including shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing on exhalation, and general respiratory distress.

Whereas the lungs' entryways are inflamed when you have bronchitis. You cough as a result of the swelling and mucus buildup that occurs when your airways (trachea and bronchi) get irritated. From a few days to a few weeks, your cough may continue. The primary sign of bronchitis is it.

Asthma vs. Bronchitis: the Differences

Acute bronchitis typically develops as a result of a cold or the flu and lasts one to three weeks before going away on its own. It is brought on by a viral or bacterial infection.

An inherited gene, having respiratory illnesses as a toddler or infant, exposure to specific environmental factors, or all three, are likely to contribute to asthma, a chronic disorder marked by inflammation of the airways.

It becomes complicated because there is a type of bronchitis called chronic bronchitis, which, as the name suggests, is a persistent condition brought on by heavy exposure to cigarette smoke or other air pollutants, frequent episodes of acute respiratory infections, or other causes of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Uncontrolled asthma can also lead to chronic bronchitis.

And while bronchitis and asthma are two distinct disorders, they can also happen at the same time in certain people. “Asthmatic bronchitis” is the term used to describe the disease that results when acute bronchitis and asthma co-occur.


These signs can be brought on by bronchitis as well as asthma −

  • Difficulty breathing,

  • a whistling sound when you inhale,

  • cough,

  • chest discomfort

A thick, gooey fluid known as mucus is produced when you cough if you have bronchitis. Clear, yellow, or green mucus can be present.

These signs of acute bronchitis are also present −

  • 100°F to 102°F (37.7°C to 38.8°C) mild fever,

  • Chills,

  • body aches

Until the infection clears up in acute bronchitis, the cough, chest tightness, and wheezing often linger for a few days to a few weeks. Long-lasting chronic bronchitis symptoms are experienced.

Asthma symptoms appear and disappear. Some people may experience flare-ups of their asthma in response to activities like exercise, allergens, or even your job.

If you have acute bronchitis and asthma

People with asthma who develop bronchitis frequently undergo treatment equivalent to that given to non-asthmatics for acute bronchitis, which includes over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers and cold medicine for other upper respiratory cold symptoms as well as respirators that constrict the bronchial tubes (to make breathing easier). Depending on the circumstances, doctors may also administer oral or inhaled steroids to asthmatic bronchitis patients.

Asthma can also be brought on by acute bronchitis in certain severe situations. That’s because bacterial or viral infections can lead to acute bronchitis. When an infection clears, most people’s bronchitis goes away, but if it doesn’t, the viral infection that caused the acute bronchitis may progress to asthma. One way that adult-onset asthma manifests is in this way. In essence, alterations in the airways brought on by the virus are what trigger asthma symptoms.

If you have chronic bronchitis and asthma

Doctors may also refer to patients with COPD who have mild asthma symptoms as having “asthmatic bronchitis” when it’s difficult to distinguish between the two disorders or when the patients’ COPD is combined with mild asthma symptoms.

It’s important to note that most cases of asthma are often identified in children, whereas COPD is typically diagnosed in adults after the age of 40, frequently following years of smoking or other prolonged exposure to pollutants, chemicals, and second hand smoke.

Asthma and COPD are both chronic illnesses, which means that treatment is possible even if there is no cure and no way to undo the damage already done. Treating comorbidities and ensuring adequate inhaler use are crucial for people with asthma. People with COPD should utilise bronchodilator-containing inhalers, refrain from smoking, and limit their exposure to triggers.

Whatever Your Asthma Level, Here’s How to Avoid Bronchitis

The following actions can be taken by both those with and without asthma to prevent bronchitis −

  • Stay away from cigarette smoke and don’t smoke.

  • Have a yearly flu shot.

  • If you are over 65 or if you have diabetes, heart disease, emphysema, or any other breathing issues, you should get a pneumonia shot. You should also get one if you are under 65 and have any conditions that make you vulnerable.

People with and without asthma can both experience acute bronchitis, although most cases will resolve on their own. That implies that the majority of people with acute bronchitis don’t require treatment, although symptom relief can be achieved with the use of a humidifier and over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) to soothe pain and discomfort and improve breathing. Inhalers like albuterol, which are frequently used during asthma attacks, steroid medications, and occasionally even oxygen may be needed for more severe instances of bronchitis.

If the problem is serious about acute bronchitis

  • Sleep is impossible for you.

  • You have a cough that lasts more than a few weeks.

  • Having a fever that lasts more than three days or exceeds 101 degrees F

  • Your mucus when coughing is either green or crimson (which could be a sign of pneumonia, for which you will need immediate medical care)

  • Despite taking the suggested prescription for your asthma, you had no alleviation.

  • Breathing is challenging for you.

  • Your heart or lungs are sick, and you think you have bronchitis.

Despite being two distinct lung diseases, bronchitis and asthma are closely associated.

It may be advantageous to know the causes

Asthma is more probable in you if

  • The asthma or allergies of your parents

  • Having allergies or the skin ailment eczema,

  • You experienced frequent respiratory infections as a child.

  • If you smoke or are frequently among smokers,

  • Your job may expose you to chemicals or dust.

Your risk of developing bronchitis is higher if you

  • You have a weaker immune system if you smoke cigarettes or are around tobacco smoke, making you more susceptible to diseases.

  • Work in a field like coal mine, farming, or the textile business that exposes you to dust and chemical fumes,

  • Over 45 age.

Updated on: 23-Feb-2023


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