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Other Conditions With Symptoms Similar to Acute Bronchitis

Many conditions cause symptoms similar to acute bronchitis. Some of those conditions include:

  • Pneumonia, a potentially serious infection of the lungs. Pneumonia can make it hard to breathe.
  • Asthma, a long-term (chronic) disease of the airways of the lungs. Symptoms include periodic episodes of difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing.
  • Allergies, which are an overreaction of the immune system to usually harmless substances. Symptoms include cough and difficulty breathing. Allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is a common allergy.
  • Exposure to chemicals at work (occupational exposure).
  • Cold, influenza, or other upper respiratory infections.
  • Sinusitis, an infection of the mucous membranes that line the inside of the nose and facial sinuses. Symptoms include pain and a chronic cough that produces mucus.
  • Mild heart failure. In heart failure, your heart is not able to pump blood effectively. Shortness of breath is one of the symptoms.
  • Bronchiolitis (in young children), an inflammation of the small air passages (bronchioles) in the lungs. Symptoms include difficulty breathing and cough.
  • Whooping cough (pertussis), which is a bacterial infection of the airways. Although a vaccine is available for whooping cough, the protection wears off over time.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the abnormal backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus. This can cause cough and chest discomfort.
  • Lung cancer. Symptoms include cough and shortness of breath.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert L. Cowie, MB, FCP(SA), MD, MSc, MFOM - Pulmonology
Last Revised July 7, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 07, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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