What Is Bronchial Pneumonia?

The human respiratory system, showing the bronchial tubes in red.
The elderly are more likely to contract bronchial pneumonia after contacting the bacteria.
Chest pain and shortness of breath may be a sign of bronchial pneumonia.
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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2014
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Bronchial pneumonia, also referred to as bronchopneumonia, is a condition in which the bronchial tubes become inflamed due to infection. The bronchial tubes are two thin pipes that channel inhaled air down into the lungs. If the bronchial tubes become infected, they can fill with mucus and swell, making breathing difficult. Severe cases can completely cut off the lungs’ air supply and result in death.

Exposure to bacteria, particularly Streptococcus pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pneumoniae, tends to be the most frequent source of bronchial pneumonia cases. These types of bacteria are located in the nasal cavities of some individuals. If an infected person sneezes or has a runny nose, bacteria can get into the air or onto surfaces and spread to other individuals. The majority of public places tend to contain Streptococcus pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pneumoniae in some capacity, but the bodies of people with healthy immune systems can usually attack the bacteria and prevent illness. People who have weakened immune systems, such as the elderly, children, or those who are already sick, are more likely to develop bronchial pneumonia after contact with the bacteria simply because their bodies are not strong enough to fight off the bacteria.

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The symptoms of bronchial pneumonia generally start out mild and may appear similar to a cold or the flu. A person may first develop a fever and cough, but as the infection progresses, he or she may start to experience pain in the chest that worsens during inhalation. As the infection spreads in the bronchial tubes, the patient may start to cough up mucus or become short of breath.

The condition is usually treated with a course of antibiotic medication to eliminate the Streptococcus pneumoniae or Mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria in the bronchial tubes. The symptoms will generally begin to subside within one to days, but it may take approximately seven to ten days of antibiotics for the infection to be completely treated. If a person’s symptoms become more severe and he or she has trouble breathing, a hospital stay may be required for additional treatment. A doctor will typically give the patient continuous antibiotic injections and recommend the patient wear an oxygen mask to help with breathing.

Bronchial pneumonia can have serious health risks if it is not promptly treated. Bacteria can attack the bronchial tubes to the point where they become so inflamed that air cannot pass through. In rare cases, the bacteria in the bronchial tubes can spread to the bloodstream and attack other internal organs, limiting their ability to function properly.

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anon972541
Post 11

I found my son gone in his bed after he had worked an afternoon shift at a lumber mill. Four months after he was gone it was determined that he had died from bronchial pneumonia. He never coughed or had trouble breathing. He was quite cranky and complained of being really tired.

He was only 19 and was always healthy, with no history of asthma, pneumonia or anything. No doctor visits in the past five years except for a physical he had for his job entry a year prior. We are still in shock over this and had no idea that he was even sick.

anon318248
Post 10

A friend of mine died at 50 from this. It can progress very quickly.

anon302949
Post 9

I am very worried about my husband. He has bronchial pneumonia and I am wondering about the treatment he needs because he is a cardiac patient. If he gets steroids, will this affect his heart?

anon276247
Post 8

I have had asthma my whole life. After moving home twi years ago I now have chronic bronchitis from the potato fields and other farms around.

I am 35 years old with many other health problems including fibromyalgia, and I now have bronchial pneumonia. It came on so quickly with the fever. I'm glad I went to the ER to get it checked.

sunnySkys
Post 7

Wow, this sounds really dangerous! Most people don't know that much about the bronchial tubes, but I'm pretty familiar with them, because I have asthma. Asthma causes the bronchial tubes to narrow, which makes it difficult to get air into your lungs. And bronchial pneumonia causes inflammation of the bronchial tubes too!

However, in the case of asthma, you can use a fast-acting inhaler to get the swelling down. It doesn't sound like that would work for bronchial pneumonia, since the symptoms are causes by an infection!

SZapper
Post 6

@JaneAir - I've had both pneumonia and bronchitis (but never bronchial pneumonia) so I can feel your pain. The persistent cough that comes with any type of pneumonia is extremely unpleasant. You can't get anything done when you're coughing like that!

Anyway, bronchial pneumonia sounds pretty scary, so I'm glad I'm not really at risk for this condition. I have a pretty healthy immune system, so it's not likely that I would develop this problem. However, I do know a few people who have compromised immune systems, so I'm going to warn them about this illness!

JaneAir
Post 5

I had bronchial pneumonia when I was younger. Luckily, my doctor caught it pretty early. When I started showing symptoms of pneumonia, my mom rushed me to the doctor because she was so worried.

And it turned out she was right to be worried. Bronchial pneumonia can be quite dangerous and even life threatening. But I was fine after I started taking the antibiotics.

My doctor also gave me steroids and an inhaler to help open my bronchial tubes back up. I felt a lot better after a few days, but I stayed home from school a little while longer so I wouldn't exert myself too much.

orangey03
Post 4

I had a sinus infection for about a month before it went into my chest and turned into bronchial pneumonia. Had I gone to the doctor for treatment before this happened, it could have been avoided. I wanted to see if my body could kick it on its own, but it turned out that it couldn’t.

Even when the cough started, I waited a few more days before giving in and going to the doctor. By then, it was so bad that I had to struggle just to get a good breath. My chest rattled when I inhaled and exhaled, and I was exhausted from all the effort it took to cough up the mucus.

My doctor could see that it would take some powerful bronchial pneumonia treatment to help me get rid of the infection, so she started by giving me a steroid shot. This gave my immune system extra strength to get moving.

She also gave me five steroid pills to take once a day, along with a fourteen day supply of antibiotics. Within two days, I felt much better. Steroids are powerful helpers, and I think I felt even better than I actually should have in my condition.

wavy58
Post 3

@seag47 - Symptoms of pneumonia in adults who smoke can be hard to detect. My uncle had bronchial pneumonia for awhile without even knowing it, because like your grandmother, he had been living with the smoker’s cough for years.

I think that main way that you can tell the difference is whether or not the person has a fever. My uncle woke up one night drenched in sweat and very hot, and his wife made him take his temperature. After discovering that he had a 101 degree fever, he agreed to go to the doctor.

So, you can’t go by the degree of the cough alone. Smoker’s cough does get worse over time, but fever is a definite indicator that an infection is present.

seag47
Post 2

How do you tell the difference between chronic bronchitis and bronchial pneumonia? My grandmother has a bad cough most of the time, but lately, it sounds even worse.

She has been a smoker since she was twenty. So, she has had the cough for a few years. However, lately, it is sounding really bad.

I don’t know whether she has some sort of bronchial infection or if her smoker’s cough is just worsening with age. I think she should ask a doctor, but she is stubborn and believes that it isn’t anything she hasn’t had for years.

lighth0se33
Post 1

There have been many times in my life when I have had a bronchial infection, and from reading this article, I gather that what I had was actually bronchial pneumonia. The symptoms were so severe that I had to seek medical help, because I struggled greatly to get a good breath.

Every time I would inhale deeply, I would go into a coughing fit. The cough would seize hold of my body, and I would turn red in the face. Each coughing spell lasted for several seconds, and phlegm came forth as a result.

My symptoms worsened at night, and after one night of feeling like I might be choking on mucus and considering going to the hospital, I went to my doctor the next day. She gave me antibiotics, but it did take several days for the cough to start going away.

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