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Asthma or Bronchitis: 3 Key Differences

Asthma and bronchitis are two inflammatory airway conditions that have some very similar symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, coughing, tightness in the chest, and tiredness. For this reason, it is relatively common for both to be confused, especially when a medical diagnosis does not yet exist.

However, these conditions also have several differences, the most important of which is their cause. While in bronchitis inflammation is caused by a virus or bacteria, in asthma there is still no specific cause, and it is suspected that it may arise from a genetic susceptibility.

Thus, it is very important to consult a pulmonologist, or even a general practitioner, whenever a respiratory problem is suspected, to make the correct diagnosis and initiate the most appropriate treatment for each case, which varies according to the cause.

To try to understand if it is a case of asthma or bronchitis, one should be aware of some differences, which include:

1. Types of symptoms

Although both have coughing and difficulty breathing as common symptoms, bronchitis and asthma also have some more specific symptoms that can help distinguish the two conditions:

Common Asthma Symptoms

  • Constant dry cough;
  • Quick breathing;
  • Wheezing.

    common symptoms of bronchitis

    • General feeling of malaise;
    • Headache;
    • Cough that may be accompanied by phlegm;
    • Feeling of tightness in the chest.

    In addition, asthma symptoms usually worsen or appear after contact with an aggravating factor, whereas bronchitis symptoms may have been present for a long time, and it is even difficult to remember the cause.

    2. Duration of symptoms

    In addition to the difference in some symptoms, asthma and bronchitis also differ in the duration of these symptoms. In the case of asthma, it is common for the crisis to last from a few minutes to a few hours, improving with the use of a pump.

    In the case of bronchitis, it is common for the person to have symptoms for several days or even months, not improving soon after using the medicines prescribed by the doctor.

    3. Possible causes

    Finally, the factors that lead to the onset of an asthma attack are also different from those that lead to the onset of bronchitis. For example, in asthma, an asthma attack is more certain after coming into contact with aggravating factors such as cigarette smoke, animal hair or dust, while bronchitis usually arises as a result of other infections or inflammation of the respiratory system, such as sinusitis. , tonsillitis or prolonged exposure to chemicals.

    How to confirm the diagnosis

    When there is a suspicion of a respiratory problem, either asthma or bronchitis, it is recommended to consult a pulmonologist for diagnostic tests, such as chest X-ray or spirometry, to identify the problem and initiate the appropriate treatment.

    In these cases, it is common for the doctor, in addition to making the physical evaluation, also ask for some diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, blood tests and even a spirometry.

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