Bronchitis is when the bronchi and trachea are inflamed. A sinus infection is when the sinuses are inflamed because of pathogens or allergens.
What is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is an inflammatory condition of the part of the respiratory tract that includes the bronchi and trachea.
Causes and prevalence:
Most cases of acute bronchitis, over 90%, are actually due to a virus like rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, or parainfluenza, or be a complication of Covid. In other cases, bronchitis can be caused by a bacterial infection or be due to smoking. Most cases of chronic bronchitis are a result of smoking. Bronchitis occurs in about 7% of the adult population each year.
Symptoms and complications:
The main symptoms of bronchitis include a cough that often produces sputum, shortness of breath, and a tightness to the chest. The cough of bronchitis will last longer than 5 days. There may be wheezing and a low-grade fever in some cases. A high fever could indicate complications such as pneumonia or could indicate that the person actually has Covid. In rare cases bronchitis can also lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDs) or respiratory failure.
The symptoms may suggest bronchitis but other illnesses including Covid-19 need to be excluded by tests, including molecular tests and chest X-rays. Gram stains of sputum samples can indicate what the exact organism is causing the illness, but this is not usually needed unless complications are suspected.
Pain killers, antitussives, medicine to loosen the mucus, and bronchodilators are helpful in treating bronchitis. Antibiotics like azithromycin may be prescribed in some cases.
What is Sinus infection?
A sinus infection is when the sinuses are painful because of an infection and an inflammatory response.
Causes and prevalence:
A sinus infection can be caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses, but also can also be due to allergens in the environment. Sinus infections are common with about 14% of the adult population having at least one case of sinus infection each year.
Symptoms and complications:
Symptoms of a sinus infection include inflammation, pain, and swelling in the face where the sinuses are, as well as congestion and a runny nose. Feeling very tired and having a headache and fever are also symptoms. An uncommon complication of sinusitis is meningitis and vision problems. Depending on the cause of the sinus infection, it can result in bronchitis if the pathogens causing the problem spread into the windpipe and bronchi.
Diagnosis of a sinus infection is often just by physical exam and noting of the symptoms. If the problem persists, a doctor may require CT scans to look at the sinuses and to see if there are any other problems that could be contributing to the sinusitis.
Treatment includes using steam to help open up the sinuses but also using medicine like oxymetazoline or phenylephrine nasal sprays. However, these can only be used for a short while. Antibiotics like amoxicillin or doxycycline are sometimes prescribed if it is thought to be a bacterial infection.
Difference between Bronchitis and Sinus infection?
Bronchitis is an infection of the bronchi and trachea. A sinus infection is an infection of the sinuses.
Bronchitis is caused mainly by viruses but can be due to bacteria or smoking. Causes of a sinus infection include allergens and pathogens like viruses and bacteria.
Bronchitis occurs in about 7% of adults every year. Sinus infections affect 14% of adults each year.
Symptoms of bronchitis include chest tightness, wheezing, coughing with sputum production, shortness of breath, and mild fever. Symptoms of sinus infection include pain and swelling in the sinuses, congestion, runny nose, and fever.
Complications of bronchitis include pneumonia, and rarely, respiratory failure. In rare cases, sinus infections can lead to bronchitis or meningitis.
Treatment of bronchitis includes cough medicine, mucolytics, bronchodilators, and pain killers. Treatment of sinus infections include nasal sprays and sometimes antibiotics.
Table comparing Bronchitis and Sinus infection
Summary of Bronchitis Vs. Sinus infection
- A sinus infection and bronchitis can both be caused by viruses, or bacteria.
- Bronchitis is an inflammatory problem of the trachea and large tubes, the bronchi, which branch off the trachea.
- A sinus infection is focused on the head area and is when the sinuses are inflamed and infected.
- See a doctor for both bronchitis and sinus infections to prevent the illnesses from becoming worse.
What is the best antibiotic for sinus infection and bronchitis?
Both sinus infection and bronchitis can be treated with amoxycillin but many doctors prefer using an antibiotic like azithromycin for bronchitis.
Can a sinus infection become bronchitis?
In some cases, a sinus infection can develop further into bronchitis but this depends on what the cause of the sinus problem is.
Does Covid feel like bronchitis?
The cough and shortness of breath are similar to bronchitis. A Covid-19 test is recommended to determine if the problem is Covid.
What is the difference between upper respiratory infection and sinusitis?
An upper respiratory infection (URI) includes the throat, windpipe, nose and sinuses, while sinusitis is only an infection of the sinuses. Sinusitis though is more evident in a sinus infection with more pain felt over the sinuses and congestion and pus in the sinuses compared with a URI.
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Osborn, D. (2022, April 15). Difference Between Bronchitis and Sinus Infection. Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects. http://www.differencebetween.net/science/difference-between-bronchitis-and-sinus-infection/.
Osborn, Dr. Rae. “Difference Between Bronchitis and Sinus Infection.” Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects, 15 April, 2022, http://www.differencebetween.net/science/difference-between-bronchitis-and-sinus-infection/.