Difference Wiki

Bronchitis vs. Asthma: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 27, 2023
Bronchitis is inflammation of bronchial tubes, often due to infections; asthma is a chronic condition causing narrowed airways and difficulty breathing.

Key Differences

Bronchitis is an inflammation or swelling of the bronchial tubes, the major airways into the lungs. This condition can lead to symptoms such as coughing (often with mucus), chest discomfort, and shortness of breath. Asthma, on the other hand, is a chronic respiratory condition where the airways in the lungs become inflamed and narrowed.
In bronchitis, the inflammation is typically caused by a viral or bacterial infection. This condition can either be acute, lasting for a short duration, or chronic, lasting for months to years. Asthma attacks can be triggered by various stimuli like allergens, respiratory infections, cold air, and even stress, but the exact cause of the condition itself is still not fully understood.
A person with bronchitis often experiences a productive cough that may produce clear, white, yellow, or green mucus. Asthma symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. These symptoms can worsen during an asthma attack.
While both bronchitis and asthma can affect a person's ability to breathe comfortably, their treatments differ. Bronchitis might require antibiotics if it's bacterial, and both forms often benefit from rest, hydration, and over-the-counter pain relievers. Asthma, however, often requires long-term management with inhalers and other medications to prevent and control symptoms.
In summary, bronchitis is typically a temporary condition caused by infections, whereas asthma is a long-term respiratory condition that can be managed but not cured. Both conditions can impact breathing but have different causes and treatments.

Comparison Chart


Inflammation of bronchial tubes
Chronic condition with inflamed, narrowed airways

Primary Causes

Often viral or bacterial infections
Allergens, certain conditions, unknown exact cause


Can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term)
Chronic (long-term)

Common Symptoms

Productive cough, chest discomfort
Wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath

Treatment Approaches

Antibiotics (if bacterial), rest, hydration
Inhalers, long-term medications

Bronchitis and Asthma Definitions


Bronchitis is the swelling of the bronchial tubes in the lungs.
After his cold progressed, Mark was diagnosed with bronchitis.


Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition causing narrowed airways.
Sarah always carried her inhaler due to her asthma.


Bronchitis is a respiratory condition marked by an inflamed bronchial tree.
During winter, many people suffer from bronchitis due to infections.


Asthma requires long-term management with medications and lifestyle changes.
After being diagnosed with asthma, Mia started using a daily inhaler.


Bronchitis can be triggered by infections or exposure to irritants.
Working in a polluted environment led him to develop bronchitis.


Asthma can vary in severity, with some people having frequent attacks.
Despite having asthma, Tony trained regularly and managed his symptoms.


Bronchitis often leads to coughing and can be either acute or chronic.
Jane's chronic bronchitis made her cautious during flu season.


Asthma can lead to wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.
During gym class, Jake experienced an asthma attack.


Bronchitis results in mucus production and can cause breathing difficulties.
Her bronchitis symptoms included a persistent cough and fatigue.


Asthma attacks can be triggered by allergens or environmental factors.
Pollen season was always tough for Lisa because of her asthma.


Chronic or acute inflammation of the mucous membrane of the bronchial tubes.


A chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs characterized by a narrowing of the airways and attacks of wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath that are induced by triggers such as allergens, exercise, infections, and stress.


(uncountable) An inflammation of the bronchi of the lungs, that causes the cilia of the bronchial epithelial cells to stop functioning.


(pathology) A long-term respiratory condition, in which the airways may unexpectedly and suddenly narrow, often in response to an allergen, cold air, exercise, or emotional stress. Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing.


(countable) An occurrence of, a case (patient) of, or a type of bronchitis.


A disease, characterized by difficulty of breathing (due to a spasmodic contraction of the bronchi), recurring at intervals, accompanied with a wheezing sound, a sense of constriction in the chest, a cough, and expectoration.


Inflammation, acute or chronic, of the bronchial tubes or any part of them.


Respiratory disorder characterized by wheezing; usually of allergic origin


Inflammation of the membranes lining the bronchial tubes


Can viruses cause bronchitis?

Yes, many cases of acute bronchitis are caused by viruses.

How can I tell if I'm having an asthma attack?

Symptoms may include severe wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.

Can asthma develop later in life?

Yes, while asthma often begins in childhood, it can also start in adults.

Can exercise induce asthma symptoms?

Yes, some people have exercise-induced asthma, where physical activity triggers symptoms.

Can bronchitis become chronic?

Yes, if bronchitis persists over months or recurs frequently, it's termed chronic.

Can bronchitis lead to pneumonia?

Yes, if untreated or severe, bronchitis can progress to pneumonia.

Can children get bronchitis?

Yes, children can develop bronchitis, often after a cold or respiratory infection.

Is there a cure for asthma?

There's no cure for asthma, but it can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes.

How is bronchitis treated?

Treatment can include rest, hydration, and antibiotics if the cause is bacterial.

Are there different types of asthma?

Yes, types include allergic, non-allergic, and exercise-induced asthma, among others.

How is bronchitis diagnosed?

Doctors typically diagnose bronchitis based on symptoms, medical history, and physical examination.

Are there complications associated with bronchitis?

Chronic bronchitis can lead to complications like respiratory infections and decreased lung function.

Are there preventive measures for asthma?

Yes, avoiding triggers, using maintenance medications, and monitoring symptoms can help prevent asthma attacks.

What is bronchitis?

Bronchitis is inflammation or swelling of the bronchial tubes in the lungs.

Is asthma hereditary?

Genetics can play a role, making some individuals more susceptible to asthma.

What are common symptoms of bronchitis?

Symptoms include a persistent cough, mucus production, and chest discomfort.

Is smoking linked to bronchitis?

Yes, smoking is a major cause of chronic bronchitis.

How is asthma defined?

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition with inflamed, narrowed airways.

Is asthma linked to allergies?

Yes, many people with asthma have allergies, which can trigger asthma symptoms.

How is asthma diagnosed?

Asthma is diagnosed through symptoms, medical history, and tests like spirometry.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons