Respiratory diseases or disorders include a variety of pathogenic and external factors which affect the respiratory system of the human body. Any respiratory disease may affect lungs, bronchitis, respiratory tract, trachea and eventually leading to difficulty in breathing.

Airway respiratory diseases like asthma and bronchitis are common in older adults. In India, a huge number of elderly are affected by respiratory diseases as compared to the younger generation. Age is one of the reasons for elder people getting affected by respiratory diseases as the immune system weakens gradually. A lot of time symptoms may seem confusing for Asthma and Bronchitis, hence, it’s a good idea to understand these conditions to draw the difference.

Understanding Asthma and Bronchitis


Asthma is a respiratory disease for which no complete cure is available. It can only be prevented with regular medications. It is a chronic, inflammatory condition that usually causes swelling and blockage in the airway of the lungs.

Frequent inflammation and narrowing of inside the lungs with difficulty in breathing may lead to an asthma attack. In a situation where the symptoms are uncontrollable, the chances of an attack increases. Immediate swelling in the airways may cause difficulty in breathing and with low oxygen intake in the bloodstream may be fatal. In severe cases, due to blockage in the airway, lungs are unable to release carbon dioxide which may be poisonous. It is recommended that people with symptoms of asthma must regularly visit the doctor and carry inhalers for critical situations.

Asthma in Adults

Usually children are easily affected with asthma, however, allergies and prolonged exposure to harmful smoke may lead to asthma in older adults. Older adults tend to fail in preventing asthma and its symptoms due to a weak immune system.


Inflammation or swelling in the bronchial tubes is known as bronchitis. The airway passes from mouth or nose to lungs through these bronchial tubes. In a condition like bronchitis, a person may have difficulty in breathing due to inflammation of lining in the bronchial tubes. Cold, flu or viral infection may cause short term or acute bronchitis which may not be serious. In acute bronchitis, individuals may have difficulty in clearing heavy mucus or phlegm from their airways. Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of bronchitis.

Bronchitis in Adults

Older adults are at high risk to get affected by virus and bacteria, due to the immune system and aging. It usually starts from acute bronchitis, which then spreads from the nose to the windpipe and airways. Bronchitis may cause heavy coughing, chest pain and 0headache in older adults.

Symptoms of Asthma and Bronchitis

As both are respiratory diseases the symptoms are very similar, hence at initial stages people may get confused with asthma as bronchitis. Few common symptoms are as follows:

  • Persistent cough, which may produce mucus
  • Wheezing
  • Low fever and chills
  • Chest tightening
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Breathlessness
  • Headaches
  • Blocked nose and sinuses

Wherein, certain environmental factors may trigger asthma leading to an attack, such as:

  • Pollution
  • Sulphur dioxide
  • Nitrogen oxide
  • Smoke
  • Cold temperatures
  • High humidity

Changes in the weather may cause flu in bronchitis patients and increase the chance of an attack in asthma patients.


Asthma cannot be prevented, however, asthma attacks can be prevented. Staying away from toxic smoke and allergies may be beneficial for people with asthma.

Bronchitis can be prevented with simple yet essential ways, such as washing hands regularly, covering the mouth while coughing and sneezing. One must try to avoid spreading the virus as flu may be contagious.


There is no cure for bronchitis and asthma as of now. However, prevention and adopting a healthy lifestyle may help most of the people. Patients are often advised to rest, drink fluids and avoid exposure to harmful air. Inhalers and anti-inflammatory medicines are prescribed to asthma patients. People with bronchitis must avoid smoking and continue with bronchial treatment as advised by doctor.

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