Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lung tissue. It is usually due to infection. Pneumonia tends to be more serious than bronchitis. Bronchitis is an inflammation or infection of the large airways - the bronchi. Sometimes bronchitis and pneumonia occur together - this is called bronchopneumonia.
Have you seen posters in your GP's waiting room warning about the unnecessary use of antibiotics for coughs and colds? You may also have seen adverts on the TV about the dangers of pneumonia and how important it is for some people to get vaccinated. Confusing, isn't it? Well, this leaflet is designed to help you tell the difference between pneumonia and run of the mill chest infections, when to see a doctor, and the treatment you may need.
What is it?
Pneumonia means inflammation of the lung tissue. It's normally due to infection. It's often more serious than bronchitis, which is inflammation or infection of the large airways - the bronchi (see diagram). You can get both conditions at the same time. This is called bronchopneumonia.
Further reading and references
Pneumonia: Diagnosis and management of community- and hospital-acquired pneumonia in adults; NICE Clinical Guideline (December 2014)
Guidelines for the management of adult lower respiratory tract infections; European Respiratory Society and European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (September 2011)
Guidelines for the management of community acquired pneumonia in adults; British Thoracic Society (2009), Thorax Vol 64 Sup III
Respiratory tract infections (self-limiting): prescribing antibiotics; NICE Clinical Guideline (July 2008)
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