Viral or bacterial organisms cause bronchitis and pneumonia. Pneumonia results from infection of the lower respiratory system that can spread throughout the body. Bronchitis inflames the lung airways. In non-smokers, it often results from infection in the nasal passages or upper airways. Acute bronchitis may occur in people who are not smokers. Chronic bronchitis often causes flare-ups in long-term smokers. It may suggest chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. Pneumonia and bronchitis can share several of the same symptoms, according to MedToGo.
Coughing is common for bronchitis and pneumonia. A cough is the main symptom in bronchitis. A physical exam or chest X-ray is necessary to diagnose the illness. A wet or dry cough may develop in bronchitis. A wet cough brings up clear or yellow mucus, according to myOptumHealth.com. A dry cough does not produce mucus, but can cause hacking or pain in the chest, ribs or abdomen when coughing.
Viral pneumonia may cause a dry cough that worsens into a wet cough with mucus developing. Bacterial pneumonia may cause chest pain with coughing. People with chronic bronchitis may have a persistent cough that lasts for weeks or longer. The coughing may be worse in the morning and produce mucus.
Cold and Fever
Frequent colds happen to people with chronic bronchitis. Pneumonia may also have cold or flu-like symptoms before the disorder fully develops. A fever and sweating may appear with acute bronchitis and pneumonia. Bacterial pneumonia patients can suffer from chills or high fever. Some people have chattering of the teeth.
The symptoms can appear gradually or suddenly. Viral pneumonia can result in fever that rises, headache and muscle weakness. Fever, chills and fatigue can become severe and even life-threatening for pneumonia patients.
Shortness of Breath
Chest or back pain often results from pneumonia. Pneumonia sufferers also experience breathing difficulties. Shortness of breath, abdominal pain when coughing and wheezing occur in acute bronchitis. The wheezing may also be a sign of asthma. The shortness of breath in bronchitis sufferers can occur when they move around. Shortness of breath can quickly increase for people with viral pneumonia.
A fast heart rate that becomes greater than 100 beats per minute and a rapid breathing rate can also happen to people with pneumonia, according to UpToDate. Shortness of breath may become severe and persistent as pneumonia develops.
Mycoplasma pneumonia, or walking pneumonia, may come on slowly with mild symptoms, myOptumHealth.com explains. Fever, fatigue, headache or cough may develop over a period of weeks. Walking pneumonia often occurs in people under age 40.