World Asthma Day 2023: Is it asthma or bronchitis? Know the difference in symptoms

By, New Delhi
May 02, 2023 11:54 AM IST

Asthma and bronchitis, both respiratory diseases, can have similar symptoms. Here's how to differentiate between the two.

World Asthma Day, a global healthcare event is observed on the first Tuesday in May every year in a bid to spread awareness about the chronic respiratory disease. This year, the day is being marked on May 2, 2023 (Tuesday). Asthma symptoms need to be differentiated from those of bronchitis or flu because if untreated the disease can become severe and difficult to control. Acute bronchitis caused by virus or bacteria can turn into asthma in some cases and it is one of the risk factors for adults to develop the chronic disease. People with asthma can also develop bronchitis which may worsen asthma symptoms. (Also read: World Asthma Day 2023: 5 common triggers of asthma in summer season)

World Asthma Day is being celebrated on May 2, 2023 (Tuesday). (Freepik)
World Asthma Day is being celebrated on May 2, 2023 (Tuesday). (Freepik)

"Bronchitis and asthma are two respiratory conditions that can cause similar symptoms but have different underlying causes. It is important to seek medical attention if you experience symptoms of respiratory distress to prevent any potential complications. Understanding the differences between these conditions is important for proper diagnosis and treatment," says Dr Manav Manchanda, Director & Head- Respiratory, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine, Asian Hospital Faridabad.

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In an interview with HT Digital, Dr Manchanda, shares the difference between the symptoms of bronchitis and asthma and the preventive measures for both.

Symptoms of bronchitis

While bronchitis and asthma share some similar symptoms, there are key differences between the two conditions. Bronchitis is typically caused by an infection or environmental irritants, while asthma is a chronic condition that causes the airways to become inflamed and narrow, making it difficult to breathe.

The symptoms of bronchitis typically include coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, which can be similar to asthma symptoms. However, asthma symptoms can also include chest tightness, difficulty breathing, and a feeling of constriction in the chest.

Symptoms of asthma

Asthma is a chronic condition that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways in the lungs. The symptoms of asthma can vary in severity and may include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing.

Asthma symptoms can be triggered by environmental factors such as dust, pollen, and smoke, as well as by exercise, stress, and other factors.

Difference between asthma and bronchitis symptoms

Although the symptoms of bronchitis and asthma can be similar, there are some important differences.

Bronchitis is typically caused by a viral infection or exposure to environmental irritants such as smoke, dust, or chemicals. The symptoms of bronchitis usually improve within a few weeks with proper treatment. Asthma, on the other hand, is a chronic condition that is caused by inflammation of the airways in the lungs. Asthma symptoms can occur at any time and may require ongoing treatment to manage. While bronchitis can be treated with antibiotics, asthma is typically managed with long-term medication to control inflammation and prevent symptoms.

Preventive measures for bronchitis and asthma

There are several preventive measures that can help reduce the risk of developing bronchitis and asthma, as well as manage symptoms for those who have already been diagnosed.

- Avoiding exposure to environmental irritants such as smoke and pollution, practicing good hygiene such as frequent hand washing, and staying hydrated to help loosen mucus in the airways are some of the ways to stay clear of bronchitis. However, the prevention of asthma calls for the need to avoid triggers such as dust, pollen, and pet dander, take prescribed medications as directed, and monitor lung function with a peak flow meter.

- Besides, lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and a healthy diet can also help improve lung function and reduce the risk of respiratory problems.

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