Acute bronchitis and pneumonia are diseases of the respiratory system. The diseases share many symptoms, and some persons with acute bronchitis often contract pneumonia. Elderly people are prone to these diseases because of co-morbid conditions like heart disease – and therefore, they cannot endure the infection as young people do – and weak immune response (Godycki-Cwirko et al., 2014). It is necessary to distinguish the incidences and features of viral, bacterial, and mixed infections in these diseases in the community and how their etiologies differ with the underlying pulmonary co-infections and age. Additionally, an investigation of the impact of community views and experiences on the management of these ailments is significant.
Bronchitis is a disease that presents as an acute inflammation of the bronchial tubes, while pneumonia causes irritation of the lungs (Morice & Kardos, 2016). Patients suffering from acute bronchitis (short-lived) have a cough accompanied by mucus discharge, wheezing, chest pains or discomfort, low fever, and dyspnea (Morice & Kardos, 2016). Infections or agents that inflame the lungs cause acute bronchitis.
For example, viruses that cause colds and flu are the causal agents of acute bronchitis; however, bacteria are often associated with the condition. Park et al.’s (2016) study on the etiologic distribution of acute bronchitis on 291 patients with the aid of a multiplex PCR tool identified viruses in 36.1% of the patients. The viral agents isolated included rhinovirus, coronavirus, enterovirus, and adenovirus. In addition, PCR experiments for bacteria yielded positive results in 15.1% of patients for bacterial strains such as M. pneumonia, L. pneumophila, H. influenza, S. pneumonia and B. pertussis (Park et al., 2016). Up to 18.9 % of the study population yielded results for mixed infections (both bacteria and viruses), while the remaining samples recorded null results. The viruses are airborne or may spread by physical contact. Environmental agents such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, dust, and fumes increase susceptibility to acute bronchitis.
On the other hand, pneumonia may be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or other pathogens. The identification of the causative agent in community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is useful in guiding antimicrobial treatment. The Streptococcus pneumoniae is responsible for CAP in elderly people and accounts for roughly forty thousand deaths annually in the US (Abisheganaden, Ding, Chong, Heng, Lim, 2012). Haemophilus influenza is a very common pneumonia pathogen in patients with chronic obstructive lung disease. Other pathogens culpable include Moraxella catarrhalis and Staphylococcus aureus (methicillin-sensitive) (Abisheganaden et al., 2012). Viruses and atypical pneumonia-causing pathogens such as chlamydia and Mycoplasma seldom cause pneumonia in the elderly.
The irritation causes an accumulation of fluid in the infected part of the body, affecting the lungs. Because of the wide range of causative agents of pneumonia, symptoms of the disease in the general population vary from case to case and may include malaise, cough, purulent sputum, chest pains, confusion, fever, chills, and dyspnea (Abisheganaden et al., 2012). However, an elderly patient may experience sleep and lethargy, anorexia, dizziness, and absence of fever. The effects of pneumonia in the elderly can be deadly and range from hypotension, renal failure, lung abscess, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), pleurisy, and empyema to systemic bacteremia (Abisheganaden et al., 2012).
Cultural influences on managing acute bronchitis and pneumonia arise from lack of proper understanding of antibiotic efficacy against bacteria and not viruses and how this misconception affects the use of these therapeutic agents in the cure of respiratory illness.
A study on the subject revealed that “previous use of antibiotics for a pulmonary illness was associated with trusting antibiotics to be effective for viral illness or for bacterial illness” and that this was independent of experiences with the health care system (Godycki-Cwirko et al., 2014, p. 106). In conclusion, acute bronchitis and pneumonia are ailments whose symptom presentation in the general population is almost similar. However, minor variations exist in the causative agents and etiology in old age. Additionally, cultural beliefs influence the management of these diseases with respect to antimicrobial use.
Abisheganaden, J., Ding, Y., Chong, W., Heng, B., Lim, T. (2012). Predicting mortality among older adults hospitalized for community-acquired pneumonia: An enhanced confusion, urea, respiratory rate and blood pressure score compared with pneumonia severity index. Respirology, 17, 969–975. Web.
Godycki-Cwirko, M., Cals, J., Francis, N., Verheiji, T., Butler, C., Gossens, H.,…Panasiuk, L. (2014). Public beliefs on antibiotics and symptoms of respiratory tract infections among rural and urban population in poland: A questionnaire study. Plos One, 9(10), 102-112. Web.
Morice, A., & Kardos, P. (2016). Comprehensive evidence-based review on European antitussives. BMJ Open Respiratory Research, 3(1), 301-314. Web.
Park, J. Y., Park, S., Lee, S. H., Lee, M. G., Park, Y. B., Oh, K. C., … Ko, Y. (2016). Microorganisms causing community-acquired acute bronchitis: The role of bacterial infection. PLoS ONE, 11(10), 1-15. Web.