Pneumonia Vs Asthma: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments and Differences

By | August 22, 2018

Pneumonia and Asthma are both airway diseases. For unversed people, they are practically the same. Next, we will talk about their causes, symptoms and treatments, highlighting the differences of each.

Let’s take a closer look to the causes and symptoms on our following sections to differentiate each disease and avoid confusions.


Asthma is an inherited condition that is activated by the environment. An asthma outbreak can be triggered by the following factors:

  • Airborne chemicals
  • Certain allergens (for example, pollen or pets)
  • Exercise
  • Pollution (smoke)
  • Weather (especially during dry and cold seasons)

As for Pneumonia, there are many agents that can carry the disease, as it is an infection. They include:

  • Bacteria
  • Chemicals
  • Fungi
  • Mycoplasma
  • Virus


There are similar symptoms when it comes to asthma and pneumonia. The similar symptoms are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughs
  • Palpitations
  • Higher respiratory rates

Specific symptoms of Asthma include:

  • A whistling sound (high-pitched) when breathing.
  • Tightness of the chest
  • Wheezing.

But most of all, asthma’s symptoms are chronical. They can be very light or severe, and may last just a few moments or several hours.

As for pneumonia, the symptoms increase gradually. It all starts similar to a common cold, but eventually it gets worse. The specific symptoms of pneumonia are:

  • Chest pain, especially when coughing
  • Clammy skin
  • Cough with mucus (yellow or green) and at the worse cases blood
  • Feeling tired
  • Fever
  • Headache and muscle pain
  • No appetite


As for the treatments, they are completely different. It all has to do with the chronical nature of asthma against the temporary nature of pneumonia.

Asthmatic patients have it and must live with it through their whole lives. On the contrary, pneumonia is caused by an infection, and most cases can be cured. Therefore, the treatments address different things.

To improve asthma, you need to be aware of your surroundings. Each patient is triggered by specific things. If you simply avoid them, then you will be safe of an asthma attack. Nevertheless, when an attack occurs, it must be attended as an emergency right away.

The treatments for asthma depend on the severity of the condition. Allergy meds are useful. Other medications to keep everything under control include:

  • Beta-2 agonists (for long term treatments)
  • Corticosteroids (oral treatment)
  • Immunotherapy agents (usually sublingual)

Besides these meds, it is important to be extra careful. Asthma patients have a weaker respiratory system and are more prone to be attacked by other diseases.

As for pneumonia, rest is the best treatment. Drinking a lot of water and other liquids is also recommended. With pneumonia there are two approaches with medications. The following list is for those meds used to reduce the symptoms and make the disease more bearable:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen

The second group of medicines must be prescribed by a licensed doctor. They are antivirals or antibacterial drugs to get rid of the harmful agent that is causing the infection.

Differences Between Asthma and Pneumonia

Both, asthma and pneumonia, affect the lunge area. But they do it differently. Asthma is chronical. It causes inflammation on the path to the lungs. As a consequence, the airways are stretched, reducing the path in which air can flow and causing the symptoms.

As for pneumonia, it is an infection in the lung area. The infection may affect only one lung or even both. If it is not treated at an early stage, it can worsen fast. The effect of the infection is the inflammation of the lungs themselves. Think of them as air bags whose walls are thicker. Again, the air flow is affected, but at a different area. In the worse pneumonia cases, the lungs can even fill with a fluid that further affects their air flow capacity.

It is important to highlight that asthma and pneumonia can be related. Asthma can lead to pneumonia, so it is imperative to take preventive measures. In fact, asthmatic patients have a higher risk to develop any other respiratory disease, from a simple flu to other more serious health conditions like influenza. This is because their respiratory system is weaker than the average.

As you can see, the origin of the discomforts is different. It all has to do with the air flow that can even affect your heart, causing other issues. But the root cause is located somewhere else.

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