Bronchitis vs Cold: Difference and Comparison

In the initial stages, when a person is sick, he/she starts feeling or facing certain nausea, fatigue, cold, or cold-like symptoms. They are termed the inflammatory response of the human immune system toward any external pathogens entering the body. But when these symptoms stay longer, they are advised to be examined by a doctor.

Sometimes a disease is not diagnosed at an early stage, but over time, it gets diagnosed. Such is with the common cold it is caused by many reasons, but its long duration may cause bronchitis or is responsible for some other medical problem.

Key Takeaways

  1. Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, while a cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract.
  2. Bronchitis causes coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing, while a cold causes symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, and congestion.
  3. A viral or bacterial infection can cause bronchitis, while a virus always causes a cold.

Bronchitis vs Cold

Bronchitis is a respiratory condition characterized by inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which are the air passages that carry air to and from the lungs. A cold is a viral infection that affects the upper respiratory system, including the nose, throat, and sinuses, and is milder than bronchitis.

Bronchitis vs Cold

Bronchitis is a condition when an individual is already suffering from a cold but for a longer duration. During this condition, the bronchi present in the lungs, which are used as a passage for air to pass through, form mucus. Bronchitis is also categorized into two major sub-conditions, and that is – Acute Bronchitis and Chronic Bronchitis.

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Cold is caused by infection, and the individual experiences running nose or stuffy with a slight headache and fatigue. It is sometimes also referred to as the common cold because the infection is caused very frequently. It is normal to experience the infection about 3 to 4 times in a single year. The virus causes cold attacks directly on the respiratory tract but the upper side.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonBronchitisCold
DefinitionInfection is experienced more in the lungs because of the mucus formedInfection is experienced more in the nose and sometimes even in the throat
Symptoms Dry cough, chest congestion, difficulty in breathing, headache, runny nose, sore throat, wheezing, difficulty in sleepingChills, sore throat, runny nose, mild cough, shivering, redness in eyes, fatigue, nasal congestion, appetite loss
CausesOrthomyxoviridae, adenovirus, rhinovirusCoronavirus, rhinovirus
Infection SiteLower partUpper part
Diagnosis Phlegm production and coughSore throat, sneezing, dry cough, redness in eyes
TreatmentAnti-inflammatory medicines, bronchodilators, oxygen therapy, cough medicines, glucocorticoids steroids, and many moreDecongestants, menthol medicines, analgesic, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and many more
DurationMore than 2 weekLimited for 2-3 days or a week

What is Bronchitis? 

Bronchitis is a condition experienced by an individual when their cold is retained for more than two weeks. As in this condition, the below part of the respiratory tract gets infected by coming in contact with different viruses (Orthomyxoviridae, rhinovirus, adenovirus). In the pair, bronchi present in the lungs start forming mucus or phlegm layer inside it, which somewhat blocks air passage, causing breathing difficulty.

In bronchitis, a person may experience some of the given symptoms: dry cough, chest congestion, difficulty breathing, headache, runny nose, sore throat, wheezing, and difficulty sleeping.

Bronchitis has been classified into two different divisions based on the severity of the case and is Acute Bronchitis and Chronic Bronchitis. The treatment best known for curing bronchitis is to consume the prescribed medicines, which may include – Anti-inflammatory medicines, bronchodilators, oxygen therapy, cough medicines, glucocorticoid steroids, and others.

What is Cold?

Cold is a condition experienced by an individual because of a viral infection. An individual’s viral infection may be caused by coming in contact with rhinovirus or coronavirus. In this condition, it is quite obvious that the virus infects the respiration tract of the body, and in the cold, the above part is infected by the virus.

The nostrils start forming phlegm which leads to a stuffy nose, or sometimes the person faces the symptom of a runny nose, and this causes difficulty in breathing. Some of the common symptoms associated with it are – Chills, sore throat, runny nose, mild cough, shivering, redness in the eyes, fatigue, nasal congestion, and appetite loss.

The suggested treatment for cold is taking Decongestants, menthol medicines, analgesics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and many other medicines.

cold

Main Differences Between Bronchitis and Cold

  1. Bronchitis is a problem experienced by an individual more in the lungs when there is a formation of mucus in the bronchi, whereas comparatively, on the other hand, the cold is a problem that is experienced in the nose or throat. 
  2. The symptoms related to bronchitis are numerous, but some of them are listed, and they are – Dry cough, chest congestion, difficulty in breathing, headache, runny nose, sore throat, wheezing, and difficulty in sleeping, whereas comparatively, on the other side, some of the symptoms associated with cold are – Chills, sore throat, runny nose, mild cough, shivering, redness in eyes, fatigue, nasal congestion, appetite loss.
  3. The main cause of bronchitis in an individual is because of viruses – Orthomyxoviridae, rhinovirus, and adenovirus, whereas comparatively, on the other side, the causative agent for the cold is rhinovirus or coronavirus. 
  4. In the case of bronchitis, generally, the infection is caused in the respiratory tract but in the lower part, but comparing, on the other side, in the case of cold, the above part of the track gets affected. 
  5. Bronchitis is generally diagnosed by coughing or the production of phlegm, whereas comparatively, on the other hand, the cold is diagnosed by some of its common symptoms like – redness in the eyes, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, etc.
  6. Bronchitis is curable and hence can be treated in many ways, and some of them are – Anti-inflammatory medicines, bronchodilators, oxygen therapy, cough medicines, glucocorticoids steroids, and many others while, on the other side, cold is treated by consuming Decongestants, menthol medicines, analgesic, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and many other medicines.
  7. Bronchitis may last up to more than two weeks, while cold lasts for 2 to 3 days or a week. 
Difference Between Bronchitis and Cold
References
  1. https://thorax.bmj.com/content/39/12/912.short
  2. http://www.besjournal.com/fileSWYXYHJKX/journal/article/swyxyhjkx/2015/1/PDF/bes201501008.pdf
  3. https://www.mdpi.com/1999-4915/10/11/652
  4. https://thorax.bmj.com/content/40/6/422.abstract
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