Marked by a mucus-producing cough, bronchitis occurs when the lining of the bronchial tubes becomes inflamed. Bronchitis can be either acute or chronic and frequently develops after a cold or other respiratory infection.

Acute bronchitis or chronic bronchitis, which one do I have?

Acute bronchitis, commonly caused by viruses, cannot be treated with Antibiotics. It typically goes away on its own. However, recurring bouts may indicate a chronic condition, which is defined as lasting at least 3 months out of the year for two years in a row. Chronic bronchitis is one of the main forms of COPD and should be taken very seriously.

What causes acute bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a virus. Often a person gets acute bronchitis a few days after having an upper respiratory tract infection such as a cold or the flu. Sometimes acute bronchitis is caused by bacteria.

Acute bronchitis also can be caused by breathing in things that irritate the bronchial tubes, such as smoke. It also can happen if a person inhales food or vomit into the lungs.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptom of acute bronchitis is a cough that usually is dry and hacking at first. After a few days, the cough may bring up mucus. You may have a low fever and feel tired.

Most people get better in 2 to 3 weeks. But some people continue to have a cough for more than 4 weeks.

If your symptoms get worse, such as a high fever, shaking chills, chest or shoulder pain, or shortness of breath, you could have pneumonia. Pneumonia can be serious, so it’s important to see a doctor if you feel like you’re getting sicker.

Ask a Question