Difference Between Pneumonia and Cystic Fibrosis

Respiratory diseases are some of the most common types of diseases that affect the most number of people at any given time.


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The respiratory system is highly prone to diseases because with every breath we take, millions of particles, micro-organisms, pollen particles, etc enter the system, with the potential to cause damage to the system.

Pneumonia vs Cystic Fibrosis

The difference between Pneumonia and Cystic Fibrosis is that Pneumonia is a lung infection that affects the lung tissue and is caused by bacteria, germs, viruses, etc. Whereas Cystic Fibrosis is a rare disorder that affects the salt and water balance of the body. Cystic Fibrosis causes an increase in the mucus content, producing thicker mucus in the airways.

Pneumonia vs Cystic Fibrosis

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Pneumonia is a common disease and the causes for pneumonia can be anything from a bacterial infection to a strong fever. It is a lung infection and produces damage to the lung tissues.

Pneumonia causes inflammation of the air sacs, which get filled with water or pus. This produces difficulty in breathing, heavy coughs, increased production of phlegm, and heavy fever

Cystic Fibrosis is a more rare disorder. It causes an imbalance in the salt and water level in the body. The salt and water are not absorbed properly by the cells present in the kidneys, liver, pancreas, sweat glands, and lungs.

This produces an imbalance in the salt-water content of the body, leading to an increase in the sodium content and mucus content, blocking the nasal pathway.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPneumoniaCystic Fibrosis
DefinitionIt is a lung infection that affects the lung tissue and causes the air sacs to inflameIt is a rarer disease that causes an imbalance in the salt-water content of the body
Area of infectionThe lung tissue is targetedAffects the gene that is responsible for salt-water absorption in the body
Type of DiseaseInfection of the lungsGenetic Mutation
Caused byViruses, bacteria, fungiInherited from mutated genes
SymptomsHigh fever, chest pain, phlegm in cough, breathing difficulty, vomitingSalty sweat, high production of mucus in the airways, reduced levels of chloride secretion in the lungs, coughing, phlegm

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs and it damages the lung tissue. Pneumonia causes inflammation of the air sacs present in the lungs. The sacs get filled with water or pus which causes heavy coughing and phlegm in cough.

This leads to further complications such as difficulty in breathing, high fever, nausea, vomiting, trembling, chest pain, etc.

There are many reasons for pneumonia. Some of the prime causes of pneumonia are viruses and bacteria in the environment. Micro-organisms present in the environment are sucked into the lungs while breathing.

These micro-organisms damage the lung tissues, which then causes the inflammation of the damaged air sacs. The air sacs get filled with purulent material and water, which leads to pus formation and phlegm.

Pneumonia is a serious infection and can become life-threatening if not treated right away. Infants under the age of 2 years and elderly above the age of 65 are most affected by pneumonia.

 Symptoms of pneumonia include chest pain, breathing difficulty, phlegm in cough, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, high fever, sweating, and overall weakness. In some rare instances, the patient doesn’t show any symptoms. This

Pneumonia can be cured by getting vaccinated before the complications increase. Many vaccines are available that prevent different types of pneumonia and seeking the doctor before the situation worsens is the best way to go.

What is Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic Fibrosis is a much rarer disorder with fewer than a million cases per year. It is a genetic disorder and is caused due to gene mutation. It is a chronic disorder and in some cases, it can have lifelong effects on the body.

It is a genetic mutation and is not caused due to bacteria or fungi. It is passed down through the genes and can only affect members of the same family.

Cystic Fibrosis affects the cells that absorb salt and water in the organs such as the liver, kidney, pancreas, and sweat glands. The gene which is responsible for this function gets mutated during cystic fibrosis.

The affects the water and salt absorption capabilities of the body and creates an imbalance in the salt-water content of the body.

This affects the lungs as the chloride secretion of the cells in the lining of the airways is reduced, due to which there’s an increase in the absorption of sodium.

This creates an increase in the salt content in the mucus in the lining of the airways and a reduction in the water content. The mucus becomes thick and gets coagulated in the airways, blocking the path and leading to shortness of breath.   

If the mucus is not cleared, breathing complications increase, along with lowering of the body’s immune system and an increase in the vulnerability of the body to other diseases.

Main Differences Between Pneumonia and Cystic Fibrosis

  1. Pneumonia is a lung infection and it affects the lung tissues. Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disorder and it causes an imbalance in the salt-water content in the body.
  2. In pneumonia the main target of the infection is the lung tissue. In cystic fibrosis the main target is the gene that is responsible for salt-water absorption
  3. Pneumonia is an infection and is caused by viruses, bacteria, etc. Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disorder and is inherited from parents.
  4. The occurrence of pneumonia is very common, with over 10 million cases per year. The occurrence of Cystic fibrosis is rare, with about 1 million cases per year
  5. Symptoms of Pneumonia are phlegm in cough, heavy fever, chest pain, breathing difficulty, etc. Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis are salty sweat, thick and more quantity of mucus, high sodium levels in blood.
Difference Between Pneumonia and Cystic Fibrosis
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673610614596
  2. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199512143332408
  3. https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1164/rccm.200505-840OE
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S002234760583478X
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