Is It Asthma, Bronchitis, or Both?

Both conditions affect the lungs, but when asthma and bronchitis occur at the same time, bronchial asthma is the result.

The phrase “breathing easy” takes on a whole new meaning when you or a loved one has asthma. You’re more likely to think about the specific symptoms of the condition: wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, or the fear and anxiety that can accompany asthma attacks. Asthma is a common enough condition, but the connection between symptoms of asthma and another lung condition known as bronchial asthma is less understood.

While bronchitis symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath are similar to the symptoms of asthma, there are some important differences. The presence of a mild fever is often seen with bronchitis, for example, but not with asthma. And, bronchitis can cause people with asthma to have an asthma attack or make their asthma symptoms worse. When the two conditions co-exist, the condition is called “bronchial asthma.”

Bronchial Asthma: What Is Bronchitis, Anyway? 

“Bronchitis is an inflammation of the large airways,” explains Richard Castriotta, MD, professor of medicine and associate director of the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the University of Texas Houston Medical School. “Bronchitis can be caused by a number of different things, most commonly infections.”

When airways or bronchial tubes are inflamed because of an infection or allergic reaction, less air than normal is able to get in and out of your lungs. With bronchitis, this inflammation can be accompanied by coughing up phlegm or mucus, along with other bronchitis symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath.

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