People acquire different illnesses during the cold season which is why they include medicine for cough and cold when Christmas shopping. However, sometimes cough and cold can be something more complex. For instance, cough is listed as a symptom for both Pneumonia and Pneumonitis, both lung illnesses.
Even if they almost sound the same, the two conditions differ. So how will you know if your cough is caused by Pneumonia or Pneumonitis?
Pneumonia is an infection caused by a bacteria, fungi, or virus. People with pneumonia have inflamed air sacs filled with fluid, causing you to cough and have difficulty in breathing.
On the other hand, Pneumonitis has a wider scope. While pneumonia only affects your lung’s air sacs, Pneumonitis is a general term used to refer to the inflammation of any lung tissue.
Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, virus or a fungal infection. A lung injury can also cause pneumonia along with inhalation of poisonous gas and a parasitic infection (although rare). In some cases, Pneumonia is acquired during hospital stays or living in health care facilities. Aspiration, wherein you contract by inhaling food, drink or vomit in your mouth, can also cause pneumonia. Aspiration may occur when there’s a disturbance in your gag reflex such as brain injury or too much use of drugs and alcohol.
Meanwhile, Pneumonitis can be caused by pneumonia itself. Exposure to airborne irritants can cause this disease while some cancer treatments and medications can be factors for contracting this ailment.
Pneumonia symptoms can be anything from mild to serious, all depending on the cause of the illness. Said symptoms are nausea, difficulty breathing, chest pain, loose bowel syndrome, lethargy and hallucinations.
The one symptom one should look out for when Pneumonitis is suspected is shortness of breath. This symptom can be accompanied by a dry cough. Additional symptoms include fatigue, difficulty breathing, fever, persistent cough, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss.
With every illness there are factors which may increase your risk. For pneumonia, these include children younger than two, seniors age above 65, weakened immune systems, smoking, and chronic diseases such as asthma.
For Pneumonitis, if you have worked with asbestos, handle birds, own hot tubs or a humidifier, or worked in the farming industry, you are at a higher risk. In addition, certain chemotherapy drugs can increase your risk as well as radiation therapy targeting the respiratory system.
There is no uniform treatment for pneumonia as it depends on the cause. General treatment is antibiotics, non-steroidal Anti-inflammataory Drugs, medicine for fever and medicine for cough. For those who have any of the risk factors, it is imperative for them to be hospitalized immediately.
If you have hypersensitivity or chemical Pneumonitis, the medical professional may recommend the removal of the allergens or chemicals which caused the lung inflammation in the first place. For severe cases, corticosteroids or oxygen therapy may be prescribed.
Although Pneumonia and Pneumonitis almost sound the same, they are quite different from one another. If you are not sure which of the two you acquired, think of possible factors or causes that led to your condition. This might give you a clue. Once you start experiencing the symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.