Difference Between Bronchitis and Croup (With Table)

With the change of climate comes the aliments of climatic change. Bronchitis and croup are common respiratory illnesses in pediatrics. The typical symptoms are cold, cough or fever. Maintaining good hygiene is the best way to prevent infection.

In the human airway, The upper airway begins from the mouth and ends past the larynx. The lower airway begins after the larynx, extends to the bronchi and into the lungs. Bronchitis occurs in the lower airway and, croup occurs in the upper airway.

Bronchitis vs Croup

The difference between bronchitis and croup is that bronchitis is a familiar and severe viral infection. It affects the small and medium airways of the lower respiratory tract in young children. On the other hand, croup is an infection of the upper airway. It obstructs breathing and causes a peculiar cough.

Bronchitis is a common respiratory disease. It inflames the tubes which bring air. It infects the areas of the nose, mouth, and lungs, and it is crucial to treat the symptoms immediately to ensure rapid recovery. With appropriate self-care, you will be able to recover quickly.

Croup obstructs breathing and causing severe coughing. Along with cough, there is swelling of the voice box, windpipe, and bronchial tubes. Since the air passageway is narrow, the cough sounds like peculiar barking. While breathing, it produces a whistling sound. Croup generally occurs in children and can be treated at home.

Comparison Table Between Bronchitis and Croup

Parameters of ComparisonBronchitisCroup
MeaningIt affects the smallest airways (bronchioles that carry air to the lungs) by blocking them and causing cough with mucus.It is the inflammation of the larynx. It even causes the trachea to inflame.
CausesIt is usually caused by viruses.It is generally caused by bacteria.
Duration of the infectionIt lasts for three weeks.It usually lasts for three to five days.
Age groupIt occurs in children aged less than two years.It occurs between children aged from six months to six years.
CoughAs it is accompanied by mucus build-up. It is a wet cough.It is a dry cough with a peculiar sound.

What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is a common respiratory illness, which affects people of all ages. The bronchial tubes deliver air from the trachea(windpipe) into the lungs. When these tubes become inflamed, mucus gets collected. This congestion causes bronchitis. The symptoms are coughing, shortness of breath and, low fever.

 Bronchitis can be classified either as acute or chronic:

  • Acute bronchitis symptoms last for less than ten days. The cough may persist for a few weeks.
  • Chronic bronchitis symptoms last for a couple of weeks and, it generally relapses. The condition is common among asthma or emphysema(issue with lungs) patients. 

Acute bronchitis in children:

Children are more likely to develop acute bronchitis as their immunity is low. Other common factors affect them, which is as follows:

  • Increased exposure to viruses in school and playground.
  • Asthma
  • Allergins
  • Enlarged tonsils
  • Dust allergy.

The symptoms are similar to adults. The child needs to keep themselves hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and ample rest. If fever or cough persists, consult a doctor instead of self-medication.

Causes and risk factors of acute bronchitis:

There are many causes of acute bronchitis, and several factors increase the chance of getting it.


There are many causes of acute bronchitis, and several factors increase the chance of getting it. A few of them are:

  • Viral infection: 
  • The virus which causes flu and the common cold is responsible for bronchitis.
  • Bacterial infection: 
  • In rare cases, bacterial bronchitis develops after a viral infection of bronchitis.
  • Irritants: 
  • Breathing in smoke, smog or, other irritants causes inflammation of the trachea and bronchial tubes. It may be the reason to cause acute bronchitis.

Risk factors:

The following factors increase the risk of bronchitis:

  • Smoking includes passive smokers.
  • Low resistance
  • Exposure to irritants, dust, or chemical fumes
  • Old age.

Acute bronchitis is contagious and, the infection can spread through droplets realized during cough or sneeze. On the other hand, chronic bronchitis is non-communicable.

What is Croup?

Croup is a viral condition that causes swelling. It causes breathing difficulties and, cough which sounds peculiar. The viruses which cause cough also causing croup.

During the winter months, the children frequently suffer from croup. Exposure to inhaled irritants or bacterial infections causes croup. The children are more prone to croup as their respiratory systems are smaller than an adult. 

The common symptoms of croup are as follows:

  • Cold symptoms like sneezing and runny nose
  • Fever
  • Severe cough with a peculiar sound
  • heavy breathing

Croup symptoms may be visible for a week. If accompanied by a high fever, consult your doctor. Most of the croup cases treated at home are curable.

Over-the-counter pain relief and cough medicins can give relief to children. In case of breathing issues, the doctors prescribe steroids or breathing tubes in severe cases.

Prevention from Croup:

The virus causing the common cold is responsible for croup. Maintain basic hygiene and ensuring to stay away from anyone not keeping well. For children, follow the vaccination regime provided by the doctors as a condition like measles causes croup.

Main Differences Between Bronchitis and Croup

  1. Bronchitis causes inflammation of the lower airway and, this produces high pitch whistling sound while breathing. Croup is a respiratory infection of the upper airway. 
  2. Bronchitis symptoms last for two weeks and take several weeks to recover in severe cases. Croup symptoms last for four to five days and a week to recover.
  3. Bronchitis usually occurs in children less than two years old. Croup occurs between six months to six years aged children.
  4. Bronchitis follows by more mucus build-up causes phlegm while coughing. Croup causes dry whooping cough symptoms.
  5.  Bronchitis targets both male and female children. In the case of croup, the male child is generally more affected by females.


As winter sets in, the cases of bronchitis and croup surge. Both are related to respiratory issues and are common medical conditions faced by infants and children.

The most common symptom is cough caused due to respiratory problems. Croup target the upper respiratory tract and, bronchitis affects the small and medium respiratory tract. Even if both are related to respiratory illness, they have different symptoms and treatments.


  1. https://journals.healio.com/doi/full/10.3928/0090-4481-19770401-09
  2. https://europepmc.org/article/med/8199758
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