Difference between Pneumonia and Asthma


Pneumonia and Asthma are two separate kinds of respiratory conditions but both have common symptoms which the patients experience. The root causes and treatments of both these kinds of respiratory problems are different and moreover Pneumonia is much more difficult to detect among people as compared to asthma. Thought asthma does not directly result in pneumonia, but it is observed that people who have chronic respiratory problems in the past like asthma might have higher risk of experiencing pneumonia in the future.

How asthma and pneumonia have common symptoms and what are the ways to diagnoses is are discussed in this article so that the readers can have a better understanding about the same, Some of the differences between the conditions of these respiratory problem among the children and adults are discussed beneath.

What is asthma and pneumonia?

Both Asthma and pneumonia affect the lungs and are common among people. Though Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition which narrow and inflame the bronchi ole airways. Some of the symptoms which are experience by the people include

  • Difficult while in breathing
  • tightening of the chest
  • Regular coughing

Sometimes wheezing and coughing also occur in case a patient has an asthma attack which in turn makes it difficult for him/her to breathe. Reasons which might trigger an asthma attack among people include allergens from different things like pet dander, pollen, mold etc; fumes of any kind of chemical, smoke, air pollution, change of weather and sometimes by exercising as well.

About Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a kind of infection which affects our lungs and is caused due to bacteria, fungi, parasites, or other kinds of viruses. This kind of situation might affect one or sometimes both lungs as well. Bacterial pneumonia is one of the most common reason of pneumonia in adults. Similar to asthma, pneumonia also results in lung inflammation and it affects the air sacs which are known as alveoli at the end of the bronchiole airways. An accumulation of pus or fluid in the air sacs results in difficulty in breathing.

Though Asthma does not directly result in the occurrence of pneumonia among people, but people who have chronic lung problems have higher chances of developing pneumonia which in turn makes them difficult to breathe. A person who already has asthma might experience severe symptoms and difficulties from colds and the flu which makes the treatment much more difficult. The flu results in pneumonia and this kind of situation is more common in adults and children. Adults and children who have asthma have higher chances of developing pneumonia in case they get sick with flu as compared to people who do not have asthma.

Even some researchers believed that kind of medications given to asthma patients play an important role in its cure. According to a study, inhaled corticosteroid which is one of the main treatment available for patients having asthma is one of the main reason for higher risk of developing pneumonia or other respiratory infections among the patients. Also, according to some other research, young adults who have asthma have higher chances of experiencing “excess exacerbations” followed by pneumonia.

What are the common factors responsible for asthma and pneumonia?

There is no evidence supporting that who can have asthma, anyone in any age can get asthma. In most of the cases, this kind of respiratory problem occur in early and some of the most coomon causes of asthma include:

  • In case someone has a family history of asthma
  • Or in the past have experienced any kind of respiratory infections or allergies
  • In case you are exposed to airborne allergens, chemicals, or smoke

Anyone can face pneumonia and in case you have asthma, then the chances of developing pneumonia also increases greatly. Smoking is also another reason which increases the risk of pneumonia among the people. Besides, some other reasons include:

  • Person who recently had a respiratory infection like cold or the flu
  • Had any kind of chronic lung disease
  • heart disease or diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • cerebral palsy
  • neurological condition that affects swallowing

What are the common Symptoms of pneumonia in people with asthma

A person who has asthma and pneumonia might have fever and chills. The symptoms of both asthma and pneumonia, are almost same and in turn makes pneumonia much more difficult for doctors to examine.

Both asthma and pneumonia results in:

  • Pain in the chest
  • shortness of breath
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Higher pulse rate
  • Regular coughing and wheezing

However, some of the conditions might result in different kind of symptoms which the patients experience. The exact causes and symptoms vary from person to person. A person who have asthma and suspects that they are having pneumonia as well look for:

  • Mucus in their cough
  • Fever
  • Pain in the chest while coughing
  • A kind of crackling sound at the time they breathe in

If case you are experiencing any of these kinds of symptoms, then it is advised to visit the doctor at the earliest. Normally asthma results in coughing, wheezing, and tightness in the chest. Also, the patients experience difficulty while breathing as well. In case of triggering of asthma attack, its symptoms might last for several hours as well. Symptoms occur instantly and therefore they are being called as asthma attacks. In case a person has pneumonia, starting symptoms might start with a typical cold or flu which will get worse with the passage of time. When the patients start developing an infection in their lungs, they gradually evolves, green, yellow, or bloody mucus at the time of coughing.

Some of the most common symptoms of pneumonia among the people include

  • Headaches
  • Feeling of tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • shortness of breath
  • clammy skin
  • fever and chills
  • pain in the chest which gets worsens at the time of coughing or breathing

In case you have Pneumonia, you will start experiencing a crackling sound at the time you breathe. When pneumonia occurs due to a virus, its symptoms result in pain in the muscles and dry cough which will start from the beginning as well. In case this kind of infection will continues, there are higher chances that cough will keep on getting worsen and sometimes the patient will produce mucus as well.

In case pneumonia occurs due to bacteria, the patient will have higher fever and under this kind of fever, the patients experience more side effects which include delirium and confusion as well. In some of the cases, lips or nail beds get changed to blue which is mainly due to insufficiency in oxygen.

Complications of pneumonia in people with asthma

In case the patients don’t receive the treatment at the earliest, then both these kinds of asthma and pneumonia can prove to be life-threatening respiratory diseases. Hence it is advised to refer to the doctor at the earliest Though asthma has no cure, but you can monitor the symptoms and take the necessary treatment at the earliest so that the situation don’t get worsen with time. Also, in many of the cases, a person gets recovered from pneumonia within a week while for some others, it might take at least 30 days or more than a month as well. Inflammation in the lungs results in triggering asthma attack, the airway dysfunction related to pneumonia results in a serious attack and can affect the patients along with making the entire situation more challenging. Bacteria or viruses keep on multiplying inside lung tissue, our natural immune defenses begin to flood the lungs with mucus which in turn makes it difficult for us to breathe. Regular coughing as well worse the case.

In case you don’t want that the situation should worsen in your case, it is important that you treat the problems including asthma and pneumonia at the earliest so that the situation of getting them worse gets reduced to a much greater extent.

Difference between asthma and pneumonia

One of the main kind of difference between asthma and pneumonia is that Asthma is a chronic, noninfectious condition while pneumonia is a lung infection. Airways get narrowed down in case of Asthma and affect the bronchioles which are very small branches of the airways in the lungs.

Though Asthma can’t be cured but a person with asthma can control its symptoms by consulting the doctor at the earliest and by taking the right kind of medication needed. With the passage of time a person with asthma learns the ways of dealing with their illness.

Pneumonia is an infection which can affect one or sometimes both of the lungs as well and it results in inflammation in the air sacs, not the bronchioles. Pneumonia results in filling of the lungs with fluid which makes it difficult for people to breathe, Pneumonia is treatable in case you have taken proper medication. Asthma and pneumonia results in similar kinds of symptoms, though both of these diseases are different from each other but needs proper care and medication as well.

How to treat asthma and pneumonia?

Asthma needs both short-term and long-term management while pneumonia can be cured with a shorter period of time.

Treating asthma

Asthma is a kind of chronic disease where the patients need to have treatment for some period of time. An acute asthma attack can prove to be a life-threatening medical emergency, especially when you are not taking medicine for the same. In case your body observes some of the symptoms which you can try to avoid them. Allergy medications will also prove useful in case you are allergic to some kind of product or items.

In case you have severe asthma, you are advise not to miss the daily dosage of your medicine to prevent attacks which include inhaled or oral corticosteroids, long-term beta-2 agonists like salmeterol (Severent Diskus), or some other kind of medicine that is useful in curing the disease.

Treating pneumonia

If you are in good health, then you can have a home treatment to it; which include taking care of your health by resting properly, drink lots of fluids which will lose phlegm, and using OTC which can help in controlling the fever. Some of the medicine which you can eat include aspirin, naproxen (Naprosyn) among many other, but ask your doctor before taking the medicine.

For children and someone who is lesser than 18 years of age, it is advised not to give them aspirin for an illness and it might have a risk of a rare, condition known as Reye’s syndrome.


In case you are experiencing the symptoms of asthma, then it is recommended to consult the doctor at the earliest who will consider your complete medical history before coming up with any kind of treatment for you. Your doctor will conduct a physical exam which includes inspecting your nose, throat, and airways. Also, he/she will use a stethoscope for listening your lungs while you breathe and in case any whistling sound is coming then it will get sure that you are having asthma as whistling sound is one most common sign of asthma. Sometimes you are also asked to breathe into a spirometer which will detect how your lung is functioning? Some kind of allergy tests will also conducted which will help in examining the kind of allergy you experience.

Also, in case the above symptoms point toward pneumonia, then the doctor will begin with the test by listening to your lungs. One of the most common ways of detecting pneumonia is through hearing a crackling sound at the time you breathe. With the help of a chest X-ray, the respiratory problem can be diagnosed and if needed, a CT chest scan will be done which will help in getting a detailed look at functioning of the lung. Your body also needs enough blood to be sure that you are getting enough oxygen needed and in order to keep a count of your white blood cells (WBCs), the blood test will be conducted. By examining your mucus, your doctor will determine exactly what kind of pneumonia you have and how it can be cured.

In the end we can say that both Asthma and Pneumonia but it both the cases it is important that people with asthma know the ways to deal with the situation. One condition might not cause the other, but people who already have asthma have higher chances of developing pneumonia. In case it happens, these patients have greater risk of complications and need to contact their doctor at the earliest so that the much-needed treatment can start at the earliest. Early treatment and useful techniques are the main factors which can help in lowering the risk of these complications.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30887658
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21111121
  3. http://pjms.com.pk/index.php/pjms/article/view/7042

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