Home Remedies for Bronchitis and Pneumonia—Know the Difference

Updated on July 23, 2020
mahsa setareh profile image

Mahsa graduated with a degree in molecular biology and is studying for the MCAT to pursue further studies in pathology and immunology.


Bronchitis is considered chronic when a cough with mucus persists for most days of the month, for at least three months, and at least two years in a row. Bronchitis occurs when the trachea (windpipe) and the large and small bronchi (airways) within the lungs become inflamed because of infection or irritation from other causes. There are two different kinds of bronchitis: acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis.

Acute bronchitis lasts from a few days to 10 days. However, coughing may last for several weeks after the infection is gone. Several factors increase your risk for acute bronchitis. Examples include exposure to tobacco smoke (including secondhand smoke), dust, fumes, vapors, and air pollution. Avoiding these lung irritants as much as possible can help lower your risk for acute bronchitis. Most cases of acute bronchitis go away within a few days.

On the other hand, chronic bronchitis is an ongoing, serious condition. It occurs if the lining of the bronchial tubes is constantly irritated and inflamed, causing a long-term cough with mucus. Smoking is the main cause of chronic bronchitis. Viruses or bacteria can easily infect the irritated bronchial tubes. If this happens, the condition worsens and lasts longer. As a result, people who have chronic bronchitis have periods when symptoms get much worse than usual. Chronic bronchitis is a serious, long-term medical condition.

Bronchitis can develop after any upper respiratory infection such as a cold. The main symptom is a persistent cough, which often makes it difficult to sleep. Lung irritants can also cause acute bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is contagious.

Chronic bronchitis doesn't appear suddenly. It usually begins with a simple cough. Over time, symptoms worsen until the person has difficulty breathing. If you leave chronic bronchitis untreated it can be life-threatening. Chronic bronchitis is not contagious.

Home Remedies for Bronchitis


Ginger is often used for treating the common cold and can also help with bronchitis. The anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties present in ginger help relieve irritated, inflamed, or swollen bronchial tubes.

  • Add half a teaspoon each of ground ginger, cinnamon, and cloves in a cup of hot water. Stir well and drink the mixture for a few days to get relief.


Because of it's antibiotic and antiviral properties, garlic is highly beneficial for treating bronchitis, especially if you have acute bronchitis.

  • Take 1 piece of garlic, chop it into pieces, and then add it to some milk and let it boil until it's warm and then drink it (warm, not cold).

Steam Therapy

  • Steam therapy is very effective when suffering from bronchitis. Adding eucalyptus oil will soften the mucus in the obstructed airways and its antibacterial properties will help in the healing process.
  • Take eucalyptus oil and rub it on the chest; this will dilate the bronchioles and let you breathe better.
  • Take it with you to the steam room or even put it in a diffuser at your home.

Bronchitis or Pneumonia; How to Tell the Difference?



Pneumonia is a common illness that affects millions of people each year in the United States. Germs called bacteria, viruses, and fungi may cause pneumonia. In adults, bacteria are the most common cause of pneumonia. You may breathe in some bacteria, viruses, or other germs. If you are normally healthy, a small number of germs usually doesn't matter. Bacterial pneumonia can affect anyone at any age. It can develop on its own or after a serious cold or flu. The most common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae. Bacterial pneumonia can also be caused by Chlamydophila pneumonia or Legionella pneumophila. In some of the cases, respiratory viruses can cause pneumonia, especially in young children and the elderly. Pneumonia is usually not serious and lasts a short time. However, the flu virus can cause viral pneumonia to be severe or fatal.

The incubation period for pneumonia depends on the type of pathogen causing the disease, the person's age, and his or her overall health. In general, most pneumonia variants begin with symptoms similar to those of a cold or the flu that last longer than the flu (about seven to 10 days) and become more severe. People who have had a stroke, have problems swallowing, or are bedridden can easily develop pneumonia. People with weakened immune systems are at increased risk of pneumonia. This includes people who take medications that weaken the immune system, such as steroids and certain medications for cancer, and people with HIV, AIDS, or cancer.

The symptoms of bacterial pneumonia can develop quickly and include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shaking chills
  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Wheezing
  • Muscle aches
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing

Because pneumonia is caused by microbes, pneumonia can be contagious. Pneumonia caused by chemical fumes or other poisons not made by infectious agents are not contagious. Depending on what type of bacterial pneumonia you have it could or could not be contagious. Pneumonia is contagious when the pathogens (usually bacteria or viruses) are expelled when an infected person coughs to produce the droplets. These droplets contain the bacteria or virus that causes pneumonia. These droplets contaminate the mouth or breathing tract of another individual to eventually infect their lungs.

Home Remedies for Pneumonia

Holy Basil

Holy Basil Leaves will help a lot to relieve a cough and the flu:

  • Just chew a couple of holy basil leaves and swallow them.


Garlic is a good, naturally occurring antibiotic and helps to fight against the bacteria. It also strengthens your immune system:

  • Try eating roasted garlic. Or, you may also smear some garlic paste onto your chest.


Ginger is a well-known remedy that treats most of the respiratory diseases. Taking home made ginger will improve cough and lung irritation:

  • You can make ginger tea and drink it; if you would like to add honey, just add about 1/2 of a teaspoon. (Do not add too much honey.)

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2016 Mahsa S


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      thank you so much, my uncle passed away also from severe Pneumonia and it happened back in 2009..Thank you so much for the great information

    • mahsa setareh profile imageAUTHOR

      Mahsa S 

      4 years ago

      Dear PeachPurple: I'm so sorry to hear that, I'm sure he's in a much better place. My love and prayers.

      Bronchitis can be really bad and can get aggressive over time if left untreated. I hope that these remedies will help anyone who has bronchitis to overcome it.

    • peachpurple profile image


      4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      my uncle had bronchitis for many years until he passed away last 2 years ago


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