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What's the difference between bronchitis and a chest cold?

No insurance so I can't have a doc help me. How would I know if I have bronchitis? My chest is congested for 4 days now and I'm coughing and weezing a lot.
Unfortunately, there is no way for any physician to make a diagnosis without listening to your symptoms and examining you. To answer your question, bronchitis is an infection of the lower airways. An infection of the upper airways is known as the common cold. Sometimes bronchitis is referred to as a chest cold. Some of the symptoms including a bad cough (which can go on for several weeks), occasionally wheezing, a runny nose an in general feeling very run down. While you symptoms could be consistent with a bronchitis, they could also be caused by pneumonia. Pneumonia is a more serious infection caused by bacteria that infect the lung tissue itself. Pneumonia must be treated with antibiotics or it can become life threatening. There is likely a free clinic near where you live where a doctor can examine your breathing and listen to your lungs. If it is viral bronchitis, then there are medications that can make you feel better and reduce the wheezing and the coughing. If it is pneumonia, then you may get a prescription for an antibiotic to help your body fight off the infection.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under ZocDoc’s Terms of Service.
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Answers are written by doctors from top institutions:
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  • Boston Children's Hospital
  • NYU Langone Medical Center
  • Brigham and Women's Hospital
  • Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • Mass General Hospital
  • Beth Israel Medical Center
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