Posted on Feb 14, 2017 7:00am PST

Asthma and bronchitis are both inflammatory airway conditions that can make breathing difficult. If you or someone you love is experiencing problems with wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath, it can be easy to confuse the two conditions because the symptoms can be similar. Still, asthma and bronchitis are two distinct conditions and it’s important to know the differences so you can get the treatment needed to breathe easy again.

At the Center for Allergy and Asthma of Georgia, we work with many patients across the Atlanta metro area who come to us confused about what they’re actually suffering from. By taking a comprehensive approach, our Board Certified specialists can help patients identify and diagnose the underlying problem and take the necessary steps to treat it. We also take the time to educate them about the differences between these two conditions.

What are the differences between asthma and bronchitis?

  • Asthma is considered a chronic disease, meaning it persists for at least 3 months or more, though it often lasts for much longer and doesn’t just disappear. Asthma is characterized by inflammation and swelling that can constrict airways. Asthma sufferers commonly experience recurrent episodes of this inflammation and problems with breathing, and it can be effectively treated in order to manage symptoms and provide relief during asthma attacks, which can cause chest tightness, shortness of breath, and wheezing.
  • Acute bronchitis is an infection rather than a chronic disease, and it can last for several weeks. Bronchitis occurs when an airway linings are infected and commonly results in hacking coughs, with or without phlegm. Chronic bronchitis is known for producing recurrent phlegmy coughs and wheezing. People who have bronchitis may also have a slight fever.

Although the symptoms associated with each condition are similar, these distinct differences – including recurrent episodes that occur with asthma – can help you better understand what you may be dealing with. Remember, diagnoses should only be made when consulting with a physician, which is why it is important to seek an evaluation, especially if symptoms become serious. Patients who have pre-existing asthma and then develop bronchitis should also seek medical treatment, as it can make asthma much worse. When a person has both asthma and bronchitis at the same time, it is referred to as bronchial asthma.

If you have questions about your symptoms or would like to discuss asthma treatment with a specialist from our team, contact the Center of Allergy and Asthma today. Our specialists are happy to help determine what’s causing your problems and how we may be able to help. You can also visit one of our conveniently located offices in the Atlanta metro area or book an appointment online 24/7.