Is It Asthma, Bronchitis, or Both?

Is It Asthma, Bronchitis, or Both?

Asthma is a very common disorder. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7.8% of Americans have experienced asthma in the past year. But many of these cases are actually caused by bronchitis, maybe in addition to or instead of asthma.

How can you tell the difference? There are a few different ways that you can tell, although the best way to know for sure is to see a doctor. The providers at NewMed Immediate Care explain more about the differences and commonalities between asthma and bronchitis.

The causes of asthma

Asthma is one of the most common disorders in this country. Asthma is a respiratory disease, as is bronchitis. If you have asthma, it may cause some of the following:

Some people have certain triggers for their asthmatic symptoms. These include exercise-induced asthma, when your asthma is triggered by exercise. Other cases of asthma are caused by occupational exposure to triggers or allergy-induced asthma, such as animal dander, pollen, or mold.

The causes of bronchitis

Bronchitis is often caused as a lingering effect after having had a respiratory virus. The symptoms of bronchitis are very similar to those of asthma, including shortness of breath, wheezing, or pain and discomfort with breathing.

If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD,) you might have coughing because of the stomach acid moving up into your throat. This can actually cause bronchitis. 

The difference between the two

Asthma and bronchitis are very similar in terms of their symptoms. Sometimes, it can even be possible to have both at the same time. They’re both respiratory illnesses that cause inflammation in your airways.

When you have either asthma or bronchitis, it will cause your airways to swell up. This will make your body produce more mucus, which fills up your lungs and makes it harder to breathe. You may have a productive cough, in which you try to cough out the mucus from your lungs.

One of the common triggers that can cause both asthma and bronchitis is cigarette smoking. If you smoke or are frequently exposed to cigarette smoke, you’re much more likely to develop asthma or bronchitis.

Bronchitis is usually term-limited, with most cases of it resolving themselves within a couple of weeks. Asthma is more chronic. But sometimes you can have both.

How to treat asthma or bronchitis

Fortunately, there’s a lot that you can do to get relief if you have asthma or bronchitis. The first thing a doctor will do is to perform a few tests to determine whether you have asthma, bronchitis, or both. Some of these tests include the following:


In this test, the doctors measure how well you’re getting air into your lungs and how much air you’re able to blow out.

Sputum tests

These tests take a sample of the mucus that you cough up. The sputum is tested for bacteria to determine whether or not you have an infection.

Chest X-rays

This test uses a small amount of radiation to get a picture of what’s going on inside of your lungs, in particular. 

You can use a prescribed inhaler to alleviate your symptoms of your asthma. Both asthma and bronchitis benefit from medications called bronchodilators, which open up your airways. Antibiotics aren’t often prescribed for bronchitis, since it’s usually caused by a virus.

If you suspect that you have asthma or bronchitis, the best thing you can do is to make an appointment for a consultation. Contact the providers at NewMed Immediate Care or request an appointment online at one of our locations in Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, Mount Prospect, or Arlington Heights, Illinois.

You Might Also Enjoy...

What to Expect at Your DOT Physical

As a commercial driver, you must pass a DOT physical exam by law to ensure that you are physically able to operate a commercial vehicle safely. Read on and learn what to expect during your DOT physical and some tips to help you prepare for the exam.

5 Benefits of Telemedicine

Telemedicine has changed a lot about the way you can access health care. Learn more about the benefits of telemedicine.