Can Bronchitis Turn Into Pneumonia? Everything You Need to Know

Bronchitis and pneumonia are both respiratory illnesses, but different viruses cause them. Bronchitis is usually a result of the common cold or flu, while a bacterial infection most often causes pneumonia. In some cases, bronchitis can become pneumonia if it is not treated properly. This article will discuss the causes, symptoms, treatments, and precautions for both conditions.

Causes of Bronchitis

1. Viral Infections

One of the most common causes of bronchitis is a viral infection. Viruses such as the flu, the common cold, and even some types of stomach viruses can all lead to bronchitis. These viruses cause inflammation in the bronchi, which are the airways that carry air to and from the lungs.

2. Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections are another common cause of bronchitis. These infections usually occur after a viral infection has already weakened the bronchi, making them more susceptible to bacterial invasion. The most common type of bacteria that leads to bronchitis is Streptococcus Pneumoniae.

3. Allergies

Allergies are another possible cause of bronchitis. People who have allergies to dust, pollen, or other airborne irritants may be more likely to develop bronchitis when they are exposed to these substances. Additionally, people with asthma may be more likely to develop bronchitis if they have an allergic reaction to an irritant.

4. Cigarette Smoke

Cigarette smoke is one of the most common irritants that can lead to bronchitis. The smoke from cigarettes contains a variety of harmful chemicals that can damage the lungs and airways. People who smoke cigarettes are at a higher risk for developing bronchitis than those who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke.

5. Air Pollution

Air pollution is another common irritant that can lead to bronchitis. Air pollution can come from various sources, including car exhaust, factory emissions, and even wildfires. People who live in areas with high levels of air pollution are at a higher risk of developing bronchitis

Causes of Pneumonia

1. Bacteria

One of the most common causes of pneumonia is bacteria. Many different types of bacteria can cause pneumonia, including Streptococcus Pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Staphylococcus aureus (Staph infection), Group A streptococci, Moraxella catarrhalis, anaerobes, and aerobic gram-negative bacteria. Pneumonia caused by bacteria is often the most serious type, as it can lead to a number of complications, such as respiratory failure and sepsis.

2. Viruses

Another common cause of pneumonia is viruses. The most common viral cause of pneumonia is influenza, a highly contagious respiratory illness that can be deadly in some cases. Other viruses that can cause pneumonia include respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), human metapneumovirus (HMPV),Influenza viruses, and Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV),SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) and adenoviruses.

3. Mycoplasma Pneumonia

Mycoplasma Pneumoniae is a type of bacteria that can cause a milder form of pneumonia, known as atypical pneumonia. This type of pneumonia is often less serious than other forms but can still lead to complications in some cases. Mycoplasma pneumonia is spread through contact with respiratory secretions from an infected person, such as through coughing or sneezing.

4. Environmental Factors

Certain environmental factors can also increase your risk of developing pneumonia. For example, exposure to air pollution, cigarette smoke, and dust can all irritate the lungs and make you more susceptible to infection.

Symptoms Of Bronchitis

1. Coughing

The most common symptom of bronchitis is a persistent cough. This cough may be dry at first but can then become productive, meaning you may notice yellow or greenish mucus when coughing. The cough associated with bronchitis can last for several weeks and sometimes even persist for months.

2. Shortness of Breath

Another common symptom of bronchitis is shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. This can be due to the narrowing of the airways caused by inflammation and mucus buildup. You may also experience chest tightness when breathing in.

3. Fatigue

Fatigue is another common symptom of bronchitis, as it can be difficult for your body to get the oxygen it needs. A general feeling of malaise or discomfort may accompany this fatigue.

Symptoms of Pneumonia

The symptoms of pneumonia vary depending on the cause and severity of the infection. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Cough, which may produce phlegm or pus (called sputum)
  • Shortness of breath that worsens with exertion or when you lie down
  • Fever, sweating, and chills
  • Chest pain that worsens when you breathe in deeply or cough
  • Fatigue and loss of appetite
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

Treatments for Bronchitis and Pneumonia

  • Treatment for bronchitis and pneumonia can vary depending on the cause. Generally, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial infections, such as strep throat or pneumonia. Antiviral medications may be used to treat viral infections, such as influenza or RSV. Sometimes, your doctor may recommend cough syrup and other over-the-counter medications to help reduce coughing and other symptoms.
  • In more severe cases, oxygen therapy may be necessary to get enough oxygen into the blood. In some cases, corticosteroids may also be used to reduce inflammation and make breathing easier.

Precautions for Bronchitis and Pneumonia

  • The best way to prevent bronchitis and pneumonia is to practice good hygiene. This includes washing your hands regularly, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
  • It’s also important to stay up-to-date on vaccinations. Vaccines can help protect you from many different types of bacteria and viruses that could cause pneumonia. Additionally, quitting smoking or avoiding secondhand smoke can help reduce your risk of developing these conditions.
  • Finally, if you have a weakened immune system due to an underlying condition such as HIV or diabetes, it’s important to take extra precautions and speak with your doctor about any steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing bronchitis or pneumonia.


It is possible for bronchitis to turn into pneumonia. Both conditions share similar symptoms and can have severe complications if left untreated. It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of both bronchitis and pneumonia to seek treatment early on and to practice preventative measures such as good hygiene and to stay up-to-date on vaccinations.  If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with either condition, it’s essential to speak with a doctor to receive an accurate diagnosis and obtain the proper treatment. Our team of physicians and medical professionals at TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track is dedicated to providing high-quality care as quickly as possible. Visit your nearest walk-in clinics today to get the treatment you need.


We’re Open When You Need Us

TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast track has 16 convenient walk-in clinics open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, so you can receive bronchitis treatment without having to shuffle your daily schedule or take time off from work or school. In addition, we regularly treat other non-life-threatening conditions, including flu, ear infections, minor lacerations, and much more. We have in-house lab and imaging capabilities to provide a complete diagnosis without sending you to an outside facility.

If you live in the Tampa, FL, area, visit the TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track walk-in clinic nearest you today to receive comprehensive bronchitis treatment. Be sure to sign in online ahead of time using our On My Way system to reduce your wait time once you arrive.



The blogs presented by TGH Urgent Care in partnership with Fast Track are not a replacement for medical care and are exclusively intended for educational purposes. The content provided here should not be construed as medical guidance. If you are encountering any symptoms, we strongly recommend that you seek an appointment with a duly qualified medical practitioner at our nearest facility.

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