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How Does Bronchitis Turn Into Pneumonia?

What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is a respiratory disorder that usually develops due to a cold or acute respiratory infection, and is caused by bacteria 2. Bronchitis is the inflammation of the lining in your bronchial tubes 2. These tubes constrict when they are inflamed, causing difficulty breathing, and a general feeling of malaise. Acute bronchitis is contagious and usually will go away in a period of time from a few days, up to two weeks 2. Chronic bronchitis usually occurs in smokers and may last for months, or even years 2. Common symptoms of bronchitis include:

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

  • coughing up phlegm that is white
  • yellow or green in color
  • difficulty breathing
  • wheezing
  • a high fever
  • chills
  • fatigue
  • tightness in the chest 2

If you have had these symptoms for more than a week, go to the doctor.

How Does Bronchitis Turn Into Pneumonia?

Reasons for Coughing Up Phlegm

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According to the Mayo Clinic, bronchitis can lead to pneumonia in some people 12. Although bronchitis does not always cause pneumonia, in the case of bacterial bronchitis, bacteria multiplies, turning into pneumonia 2. In some cases, especially in the case of healthy young adults, the body can fight the bacteria, overcoming the bronchitis 2. Individuals who have had effective antibacterial treatment for bronchitis also have a good chance of curing the ailment 2. Those with compromised immune systems, which may include young children and senior citizens, are especially likely to develop pneumonia from untreated bronchitis, as the body may not be able to fight off the bacteria on its own 2.

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a severe respiratory disorder that is caused by untreated bacteria or viruses in the body, like in the case of bronchitis or other untreated viral illnesses 2. Not all cases of pneumonia are life-threatening, but if you notice any of the symptoms of pneumonia, see a doctor for treatment, especially if you have a low-functioning immune system or if you are over the age of 65. Symptoms of pneumonia include:

  • a phlegm-producing cough
  • a high fever
  • chills
  • trouble breathing
  • chest pain
  • other flu-like symptoms

Symptoms of pneumonia are often more severe than symptoms of bronchitis, although both are similar 2.