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.

Lungs showing patch of pneumonia

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Dr Laurence Knott
Peer Reviewer:
Prof Cathy Jackson
Document ID:
4491 (v42)
Last Checked:
20 January 2015
Next Review:
19 January 2018

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.