What are bronchitis and Covid-19 (Coronavirus)?
It's important to know the difference between these two illnesses.
Bronchitis happens when the bronchial tubes that carry oxygen to your lungs become inflamed and irritated. These irritated airways then produce excess mucus and cause you to cough. Acute bronchitis typically will get better on its own. It can develop into pneumonia when not properly cared for.
There are many different types of coronaviruses. Some cause mild illnesses such as colds. Some cause more severe diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is spread from person to person. Symptoms usually appear within two weeks of exposure. You can spread COVID-19 to others even if you don't have any symptoms yourself.
Symptoms of bronchitis and Covid-19 (Coronavirus)
If you have bronchitis, you may have any of the following symptoms:
Anyone can get COVID-19. If you are a healthy child or an adult under the age of 60 years, you may not have any symptoms. You may also have symptoms that range from mild to severe. Doctors’ understanding of COVID-19 is still developing.
Symptoms of COVID-19 generally appear two days to two weeks after exposure. They can include:
Causes of bronchitis and Covid-19 (Coronavirus)
Acute bronchitis usually starts with a common cold.
It is caused by the same types of viruses that cause URIs or the flu, including rhinovirus and influenza A and B. Acute bronchitis can be caused by bacteria, but that is much rarer. Bacterial infection occurs in less than 10% of cases of acute bronchitis.
A coronavirus is a type of virus. COVID-19 is caused by a new type of this coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2 .
Diagnosis for bronchitis and Covid-19 (Coronavirus)
Only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose whether you have COVID-19 or bronchitis.
To diagnose acute bronchitis, your doctor will listen to your symptoms and conduct a physical exam.
There are no specific tests for bronchitis, but your doctor may do blood tests to eliminate other possible causes of your symptoms. Your doctor may also order a chest x-ray if you have a fever. This is to rule out pneumonia.
COVID-19 is diagnosed with a viral test.
A viral test can't tell you if you were previously infected. Even if you test negative, you can still get infected after the test.
If you start to feel sick after you are tested, you may need to be tested again.
Treatments for bronchitis and Covid-19 (Coronavirus)
Since acute bronchitis is usually caused by a virus, antibiotics will not help. Acute bronchitis will most likely get better on its own, so treatment is generally focused on relieving your symptoms.
You can try the following measures to feel better:
- Get lots of rest
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially hot liquids such as tea
- Take honey to help with cough, but do not give honey to an infant
- Use sinus rinses or saline nasal sprays
- Use lozenges to help with a sore throat, but do not give them to children under the age four
- Use a humidifier or inhale steam from a hot shower
- Take over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
You should only take treatments for COVID-19 if your healthcare provider recommends it. If you take treatments not recommended by your doctor, you could become seriously ill or even die.
Treatments are still evolving and should be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — at least for emergency use, if not yet fully approved. The drug Veklury (remdesivir) was the first FDA-approved treatment for COVID-19. Another treatment that has received an emergency use authorization is the investigational monoclonal antibody therapy bamlanivimab. Monoclonal antibodies are proteins made in labs, and they act like the immune system as it fights off problematic antigens, such as viruses. Shortly after, the FDAissued an emergency use authorization for a combination of the drug baricitinib, in combination with remdesivir.
Because the virus is new, treatments and vaccines are developing swiftly. It’s important to check with your doctor about the most up-to-date information about approved and effective treatments, as well as possible vaccines.
If you are in a high-risk group, this means that you are more likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19. If you test positive, your doctor may recommend that you receive antibodies. These antibodies can help your immune system fight the virus.
Your healthcare provider may also recommend the following measures:
- Fever-reducing medicines such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water
- Get plenty of rest
Lung Disease/COPD Resources
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Bass Urgent Care: "COVID-19 vs. The Common Chest Cold: Spotting The Difference."
Canadian Family Physician: "Acute bronchitis."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Chest Cold (Acute Bronchitis)."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Coronavirus Disease 2019."
Johns Hopkins Medicine: "What is Coronavirus?"
U.S. Food and Drug Administration: “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Authorizes Drug Combination for Treatment of COVID-19.”
U.S. Food and Drug Administration: “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Authorizes Monoclonal Antibody for Treatment of COVID-19.”
U.S. Food and Drug Administration: “FDA Approves First Treatment for COVID-19.”