Difference Between Pneumonia and Asthma

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Pneumonia and Asthma

Why read @ Diffzy

Our articles are well-researched

We make unbiased comparisons

Our content is free to access

We are a one-stop platform for finding differences and comparisons

We compare similar terms in both tabular forms as well as in points


In today’s world and time, the environment is getting polluted immensely. The smoke and waste materials from the industries, the polluted gases from cars and other vehicles, the construction sites, and other developmental processes, have been the major causes of environmental pollution. Deforestation has also been one of the most vital causes of increasing global warming. This pollution not only causes harm to the birds and animals but also humans.

There are several diseases that have spread due to the rising pollution. People experience skin problems, breathing issues, and even cancerous problems because of this pollution. Here, we’ll discuss the details and the differentiating points between two of the most commonly occurring diseases, namely Pneumonia and Asthma. 

Pneumonia vs Asthma

Asthma is a long-term problematic disorder. It causes irritation to the airway and constriction on a regular basis. The major bronchi, that are the two tubes that branch off the trachea, are affected (especially the windpipe). Although asthma is incurable, it can be judiciously managed. It can even get better with time.

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. It can happen in either one or both of the lungs. The air sacs become inflamed during pneumonia. It can also cause fluid to build up in your lungs. Pneumonia can be treated and even cured (Pietrangelo, 2019).

Difference Between Pneumonia and Asthma in Tabular Form

Parameters of Comparison Pneumonia Asthma
Description Pneumonia is an infection that causes inflammation in the air sacs called alveoli in one or both lungs. Asthma is a condition in which the airways constrict and inflate, resulting in the production of excessive mucus.
Fever Fever occurs in pneumonia. Fever doesn’t occur in asthma.
Wheezing or whistling sound while breathing This type of sound doesn’t happen in pneumonia. The sound can be heard while breathing in asthma.
A crackling sound while breathing There is a crackling sound that can be heard in pneumonia while breathing. No such type of sound is heard in asthma.
Intensity and Risk If not managed in stage zero or one, there is a very significant risk. Although the intensity is high, the effects can be lessened (Difference Between Pneumonia and Asthma.
Curable Pneumonia can be cured. Asthma cannot be cured permanently.

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a disease of the lungs that can damage one or both of the lungs. It causes fluid or pus to accumulate in the lungs' air sacs or alveoli. Pneumonia is generally caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Coughing with or without mucus (a sticky material), fever, chills, and trouble while breathing are among the symptoms that can range from moderate to severe in intensity. The severity of your pneumonia is determined by your age, overall wellbeing, and the source of your illness.

Symptoms of Pneumonia

Pneumonia symptoms can range from minor to severe. Young children, the elderly, and persons with chronic illnesses are more likely to suffer severe pneumonia or life-threatening consequences. Pneumonia can cause the following symptoms:

  • When you cough or breathe, your chest hurts.
  • Chills
  • Coughing up mucus or not
  • Fever
  • Low blood oxygen levels, as measured by a pulse oximeter
  • Breathing problems

Other symptoms may include a headache, muscle soreness, excessive exhaustion, nausea (a feeling of being sick to your stomach), puking, and diarrhoea.

Occasionally, new-borns might not exhibit the usual symptoms. They may vomit, have a fever, or cough, or appear agitated, fatigued, and exhausted. Breathing issues in babies can also manifest themselves in the following ways:

  • Skin and lips have a bluish tone.
  • Grunting
  • When breathing, the muscles between the ribs pull inward.
  • Breathing quickly
  • With each breath, the nostrils widen (PNEUMONIA, 2022).

Causes of Pneumonia

Some bacteria cause pneumonia with symptoms or characteristics that are different from the typical pneumonia. Atypical pneumonia is the name for this sickness. Mycoplasma pneumoniae, for example, causes a mild form of pneumonia known as "walking pneumonia." Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by Legionella pneumophila. Bacterial pneumonia can occur on its own or as a result of a cold or influenza.

Pneumonia is caused by viruses that infect your lungs and airways. In adults, viral pneumonia is most commonly caused by the flu (influenza virus) and the common cold (rhinovirus). In young children, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most prevalent cause of viral pneumonia.

Many additional viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent for COVID-19, can cause pneumonia.

Pneumocystis jirovecii, a fungus, can cause pneumonia, especially in patients with weaker immune systems (PNEUMONIA, 2022).

Diagnosis of Pneumonia

Based on the patient’s medical history, physical exam, and test results, the healthcare professional will diagnose pneumonia. Since the symptoms might be similar to those of a cold or flu, pneumonia could be difficult to diagnose. The patient might not understand how terrible his condition is until it lasts longer than other conditions.

If the doctor suspects that the patient has pneumonia, he or she may order one or more of the tests listed below.

  • A chest X-ray examines your lungs for inflammation. Pneumonia is frequently diagnosed using a chest X-ray.
  • A complete blood count (CBC) test determines if your immune system is fighting an illness.
  • The amount of oxygen in your blood is measured via pulse oximetry. Pneumonia can make it difficult for your lungs to obtain enough oxygen entering your blood. A little sensor termed a pulse oximeter is connected to your finger or ear to measure the levels.

If you're in the hospital, have severe symptoms, are elderly, or have other health issues, your doctor may order additional tests to rule out pneumonia.

  • If you are unwell, a blood gas test may be performed. A blood sample from an artery, generally in your wrist, is used to measure your blood oxygen levels for this test. An arterial blood gas test is what this is termed.
  • A sputum test, which uses a sample of sputum (spit) or mucus from your cough to determine which bacterium is causing your pneumonia, may be employed.
  • A blood culture test can reveal the germ that is causing your pneumonia as well as whether or not the infection has spread to your blood.
  • A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test examines your blood swiftly for the presence of any germs that causes pneumonia (PNEUMONIA, 2022).

Treatment of Pneumonia

If your pneumonia is moderate, your doctor may prescribe or recommend over-the-counter medications for treatment at home.

  • For bacterial pneumonia, antibiotics may be recommended. After one to three days of antibiotic treatment, most people start to feel better. You should, however, take antibiotics as directed by your doctor. If you discontinue treatment too soon, your pneumonia may return.
  • Antiviral medication may be used in the case of viral pneumonia. These medications, however, do not prove to be effective against every type of pneumonia virus.
  • Fungal pneumonia is treated with antifungal medications.

To treat your fever and muscle soreness, as well as to make breathing easier, you may be prescribed over-the-counter medications. Before taking cough or cold medicine, see your doctor (PNEUMONIA, 2022).

What is Asthma?

The airways in your lungs are frequently enlarged or irritated when you have asthma. This makes them extra sensitive to asthma "triggers," which are things you are exposed to in the surroundings every day. A cold or the weather could be a trigger, as could dust, chemicals, smoking, or pet dander in the environment.

The insides of your airways enlarge much more when you breathe in a trigger. This reduces the amount of room available for air to enter and exit the lungs. The muscles that surround your airways can also constrict, making breathing more difficult. An asthma flare-up, asthma episode, or asthma "attack" occurs when this happens (What Is Asthma?, 2020).

Symptoms of Asthma

Asthma symptoms can include:

  • chest constriction
  • Coughing, particularly at night or in the morning
  • Breathing problems
  • When you breathe out, you make a whistling sound (ASTHMA, 2022).

Causes of Asthma

Normally, the immune system aids in the battle against infections. It may, however, react to other substances you breathe in, such as pollen or mold. The immune system responds severely in some people, causing inflammation. The airways enlarge, narrow, and possibly produce more mucus when this happens. Muscles surrounding the airways may also contract. This can make breathing even more difficult. The airway walls might become thicker with time.

Diagnosis of Asthma

For the diagnosis of Asthma, the following test can be useful:

Spirometry is a lung function test which measures how much air you inhale. It also determines how quickly you can expel air.

A technician will tell you to breathe deeply throughout the exam. Then you'll blow into a tube attached to a little machine as hard as you can. A spirometer is the name of the device. Your doctor may instruct you to inhale (breathe in) drugs to help open your airways before blowing into the tube again. They can then compare the results of your tests before and after you take the medication. The required breathing effort causes some people to feel lightheaded or weary (ASTHMA, 2022).

Treatment of Asthma

Some people take medications on a regular basis to manage and avoid symptoms. However, you can bring medications such as a rescue inhaler with you in case of an attack. Until your asthma symptoms are under control, your doctor may change your treatment.

During an asthma attack, quick-relief medications can help prevent or reduce symptoms. They may be the sole medications required for mild asthma or asthma which only occurs when you exercise.

The following are examples of quick-relief medications:

  • Short-acting beta2-agonists (SABAs) are inhaled medications that expand the airways and allow air to pass through them when in an asthma attack. Tremors and a fast heartbeat are two possible side effects.
  • Oral corticosteroids help to minimize airway edema caused by severe asthma symptoms.
  • Anticholinergics with a short half-life assist expand the airways quickly. This drug is less effective than SABAs, however, it is a choice for patients who are concerned about SABA’s adverse effects.

Medicines for long-term control:

  • Inflammation in the body is reduced by corticosteroids (steroid hormone medications). They can be breathed or taken as a pill. In comparison to the inhaled form, the tablet form can have more dangerous adverse effects. High doses can increase the risk of cataracts (clouding of the eye) and osteoporosis over time. Your bones are more likely to break if you have osteoporosis. Hoarseness of voice and thrush, a mouth infection, are common adverse effects of inhaled corticosteroids.
  • For severe asthma, biologic medications may be administered. Medicines like benralizumab, which is injected into a vein or beneath the skin, fall into this category.
  • Leukotriene modifiers help keep your airways open by reducing edema. These pills may be prescribed alone or in combination with steroid medication by your doctor (ASTHMA, 2022).

Main Differences Between Pneumonia and Asthma In Points

  • Cough with phlegm, fever with chills, lack of appetite, confusion, chest pains that intensify with breathing or coughing, migraines, shortness of breath, and weariness are all common symptoms of pneumonia.
  • Shortness of breath, chest tightness or soreness, difficulty sleeping owing to breathing issues, whistling or wheezing noise when expelling, and coughing are all symptoms of asthma.
  • There are several kinds of pneumonia, and the cause of each can be determined by its name. There's community-acquired pneumonia, that is caused by a bacterium, bacterium-like organisms, viruses, and fungi.
  • Asthma has no known cause; however, it could be caused by a mix of hereditary and environmental factors. Airborne allergens, respiratory illnesses, physical exercise, cold air, air pollutants, some medications, powerful feelings and stress, sulfites, and preservatives are all common asthma triggers.
  • Antibiotics, fever suppressants, and cough medications are frequently used to treat pneumonia.
  • To diagnose asthma, your doctor will do various tests, starting with a physical examination. Your doctor will perform tests to identify asthma after ruling out other respiratory infections. Asthma requires lifelong treatment, which frequently includes inhaled drugs such as inhaled corticosteroids (Lunardo, 2016).


It’s very important to take care of one’s health (physical as well as mental) entirely. The enhancing development and industrialization in today’s time have also led to an uprise in environmental pollution. This causes a lot many disorders including pneumonia and asthma. For medical treatment, understanding the difference between pneumonia and asthma is a must. After knowing their differences only, a person can go for the diagnosis and then the required medical attention for the same.


  • ASTHMA. (2022, March 24). Retrieved from National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/asthma/treatment-action-plan
  • Lunardo, E. (2016, June 10). Pneumonia vs. asthma: Differences, risk factors, causes, and treatment. Retrieved from Bel Marra Health: https://www.belmarrahealth.com/pneumonia-vs-asthma-differences-risk-factors-causes-treatment/
  • PNEUMONIA. (2022, March 24). Retrieved from National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/pneumonia/diagnosis
  • What Is Asthma? (2020, October 23). Retrieved from American Lung Association: https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/asthma/learn-about-asthma/what-is-asthma


Cite this article

Use the citation below to add this article to your bibliography:



MLA Style Citation

"Difference Between Pneumonia and Asthma." Diffzy.com, 2024. Wed. 21 Feb. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-pneumonia-and-asthma-472>.

Edited by

Share this article