You wake up Wednesday morning and feel awful. You have tightness in your chest and a weird cough. How do you know if it’s pneumonia, bronchitis, or COVID-19? While they all have overlapping symptoms, they do have some key differences.
Signs It’s Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an infection that causes air sacs in the lungs to become inflamed, which can fill up with so much fluid and pus that it becomes difficult to breathe. This can cause a bad cough, accompanied by phlegm or pus. Pneumonia can cause tightness in your chest and difficulty breathing.
Pneumonia symptoms include chest pain when coughing or breathing, fatigue, chills, fever, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal discomfort and upset, and adults over 65 may experience confusion and a lower than normal body temperature.
Pneumonia can be caused by a complication of a viral infection such as COVID, the flu, or even a common cold. It can also be caused by fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms. Adults over 65, very young children, and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk for developing pneumonia.
Unlike bronchitis, pneumonia is accompanied by gastrointestinal discomfort and can cause confusion in adults over 65. Unlike COVID, pneumonia is not accompanied by a lack of taste, headache, sore throat, rash, conjunctivitis, or congestion.
Signs It’s Bronchitis
Bronchitis is an infection that causes inflammation of the bronchial tubes. People with bronchitis will often cough up mucus. It’s very common to develop bronchitis after having a cold. Bronchitis can be chronic or acute, acute bronchitis being very infectious.
Bronchitis symptoms include a cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, fever, chills, and chest discomfort.
Bronchitis can be caused by viruses such as a cold or influenza (the flu). Cigarette smokers, those with gastric refluxes, those with low resistance (for example, someone with a cold or flu), and people with a heavy exposure to irritants such as pollen, chemical fumes, grains, or textiles are most at risk for developing acute and chronic bronchitis.
Unlike pneumonia, bronchitis is not accompanied by gastrointestinal discomfort, confusion, or a lower than normal body temperature. Unlike COVID, bronchitis is not accompanied by a lack of taste, headache, sore throat, rash, conjunctivitis, or congestion.
Signs It’s COVID
COVID-19 is a virus that can cause respiratory distress, gastrointestinal distress, and other various symptoms. In March of 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic. There have been different variants since it was first discovered in 2019. While most coronavirus cases report experiencing mild symptoms, it can cause life threatening complications. Because of the infectious nature of COVID, it’s important to be fully informed about coronavirus signs and symptoms.
COVID symptoms include fever, chills, cough, fatigue, loss of taste and/or smell, headache, shortness of breath, congestion, runny nose, gastrointestinal discomfort, sore throat, and conjunctivitis. People with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, COPD, liver disease, asthma, chronic lung disease, weakened immune systems, dementia, down syndrome, substance use disorders, neurological conditions, smokers, and pregnant people are most at risk for developing severe complications from COVID.
When to See a Doctor
It’s important to seek out medical attention if you begin to develop new problems breathing, inability to wake up and/or stay awake, confusion, persistent pain in the chest, new loss of taste, or if symptoms do not go away after one week. Doctors will be able to better determine what your symptoms best align with and will be able to administer proper tests.
At BASS Urgent Care, our team takes patients’ health seriously. If you are concerned about your symptoms, give us a call at (925) 378-4245 to set up an appointment and let one of our amazing staff members help you!