• Home
  • Blog
  • Bronchitis and Pneumonia – what’s the difference?
bronchitis and pneumonia

Bronchitis and Pneumonia – what’s the difference?

Do you know the difference between bronchitis and pneumonia? It’s sometimes hard to tell, so catch up on these points to make sure you know how your body reacts to health issues affecting the lungs.


The less severe of the two, acute bronchitis is caused by inflammation of the bronchi, the branching tubes that deliver air into the lungs. (Chronic bronchitis is a different subject altogether.)

The most common symptoms of bronchitis include:

  • Coughing with clear, yellow or green sputum (the gunk you cough up)
  • Fatigue
  • Wheezing
  • Runny, stuffy nose occurring before chest congestion begins
  • Shortness of breath, usually following a coughing bout
  • Discomfort in the center of the chest due to cough
  • Mild fever


Pneumonia results from a bacterial infection and has many of the same symptoms as bronchitis, including: 

  • Persistent fever (often high)
  • Cough, often with yellow or green mucus
  • Chills, which sometimes cause shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sharp chest pain
  • Confusion (which occurs primarily in older people)

Though many of the signs may be similar, pneumonia is much more serious than acute bronchitis. It’s more often caused by bacteria than by a virus, which means that antibiotics can be used to treat it. However, bacterial pneumonia can be a fast-moving disease that needs attention right away.

The main aim of PHYSIOTHERAPY, when treating bronchitis and pneumonia, is to keep the airways open and functioning properly, to help clear the airways of mucus to avoid lung infections and to prevent further disability.  Physio is done in conjunction with a bronchodilator (to help keep the airways open during treatment).  Physio helps pneumonia most effectively in the resolution phase – once antibiotics have been started and the sputum in the lungs can start to loosen with the decreased infection.

If your medical practitioner has recommended that you use physiotherapy in conjunction with medication in order to treat bronchitis and pneumonia, please contact your nearest Practice of Lamberti Physiotherapy, by going to this handy form to complete.

Find a Lamberti Physiotherapy Practice Near You