Bronchitis: Symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatments

2021-07-23 05:22 PM

Acute bronchitis usually improves within a few days, although coughing may continue for a week. Chronic bronchitis may be present and requires medical attention.


Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, the tubes that carry air to and from the lungs. Bronchitis can be acute or chronic.

In common, acute bronchitis usually develops from a cold or other problem. Chronic bronchitis, a more serious condition, is frequent irritation or inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, usually caused by smoking.

Bronchitis diagnosisbook 

Acute bronchitis usually improves within a few days, although coughing may continue for up to a week. However, with repeated bouts of bronchitis, chronic bronchitis may be present and requires medical attention. Chronic bronchitis is one of the conditions that lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Treatment for bronchitis focuses on relieving symptoms and alleviating shortness of breath.


For acute bronchitis or chronic bronchitis (acute vs chronic bronchitis), signs, and symptoms may include:


Produce sputum, clear or white or yellow-gray or green-colored sputum.

Shortness of breath, made worse by exertion.



Fever and chills.

Chest tightness.

Bronchitis symptoms

If acute bronchitis is present, there may be a persistent cough that lasts for several weeks after bronchitis has resolved. However, symptoms of bronchitis can be mixed. Sputum is not always produced when bronchitis is present, and children often swallow sputum, so parents may not know they have a secondary infection. It is possible to develop chronic bronchitis without first developing acute bronchitis. And many smokers wake up with phlegm in their throat every morning, which, if continued for more than three months, can lead to chronic bronchitis.

Symptoms of chronic bronchitis:

If chronic bronchitis is present, long-term inflammation leads to scarring in the bronchial tubes, excessive mucus production. Over time, the linings of the bronchial tubes and airways thicken, which can eventually become scarred. Signs and symptoms of chronic bronchitis may also include:

The cough is worse in the morning and in wet weather.
Frequent respiratory infections (such as colds or flu) with worsening cough.
If you have chronic bronchitis, you may have periods of worsening signs and symptoms. At times there may be acute bronchitis superimposed on either viral or bacterial in addition to chronic bronchitis.

Acute bronchitis may clear up on its own in a few days. See a doctor if:

Cough is severe or prevents sleep. Your doctor may recommend a prescription cough suppressant to help you rest.

A low-grade fever that persists for more than three days or a fever higher than 38.30C, trouble breathing or coughing up blood or yellow or green mucus - may have pneumonia. Discolored slime is usually only a bacterial infection, which may respond to antibiotics. May also have developed bacterial sinusitis.

The cough lasts more than three weeks. Chronic inflammation when acutely infected can lead to bronchospasm in some people.

Have chronic cardiopulmonary disease or problems including asthma, emphysema, or congestive heart failure, and think you may have developed bronchitis. These problems carry a risk of developing bronchial infection complications.

There are repeated bouts of bronchitis. There may be chronic bronchitis, other serious health conditions such as asthma or bronchiectasis.


Acute bronchitis. Viruses that cause colds also often cause acute bronchitis. But it's also possible to develop non-infectious bronchitis from exposure to someone or yourself who smokes and from pollutants like household cleaners and smog.

Bronchitis can also occur when acid from the stomach consistently backs up into the esophagus and a few drops into the upper respiratory tract, a problem known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). And workers exposed to certain smog can develop occupational bronchitis - an acute illness that generally stops when exposed to trigger points.

Chronic bronchitis. Sometimes the lining of the bronchial tubes becomes inflamed and thickened and becomes permanent - this is called chronic bronchitis. Usually considered chronic bronchitis, if cough most days for at least three months a year for two consecutive years. Usually, however, smokers experience a cough from chronic bronchitis almost every day.

Unlike acute bronchitis, chronic bronchitis is a serious, ongoing illness. Smoking is the main cause, but polluted air and dust or toxic gases in the environment or workplace can also contribute to this condition.

Bronchitis causes


Risk factors

Factors that increase the risk of bronchitis include:

Cigarette smoke, or smoking weed with bronchitis. Smokers or people living with smokers are at the greatest risk of both acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis. Children in families with smokers are also more susceptible to bronchitis, as well as asthma, pneumonia, colds, and otitis media.

Low resistance. This can be the result of an acute illness, such as a cold, or from a chronic condition of the immune system. Older adults, infants, and young children are at greater risk of infection.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Stomach acid that continuously backs up into the esophagus can cause a chronic cough.

Exposure to stimulants at work. There is a risk of developing occupational bronchitis if the work environment causes certain irritants, such as grain or textiles, or is exposed to chemical fumes from ammonia, strong acids, chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, gases sulfur, or bromine. Coughs associated with occupational bronchitis can be dry. Occupational bronchitis usually clears up on its own when exposed to these substances is gone. This type of bronchitis is not associated with any causative agent, but the irritation of the airways makes it more susceptible to infection.


Although bronchitis is usually not a big concern, it can lead to pneumonia in some people (bronchitis pneumonia). Older adults, infants, smokers, and people with chronic respiratory or heart problems are at increased risk for pneumonia.

Repeated episodes of severe bronchitis. Signals may be:

Chronic bronchitis.


Lung disorders.

In addition, if you have chronic bronchitis and you continue to smoke, your risk of lung cancer increases beyond the normal risk smokers face.

Preparations for medical examination

If you have chronic bronchitis, you may want to see a pulmonologist.

To get all the information you need from your doctor, it's best to prepare for the exam. 

What can be done:

Write down any symptoms, even if it seems unrelated to the reason for the exam, and how long the symptoms have been present.

Record key personal information, including any recent life changes or exposure to stimulants in the home or workplace.

Make a list of all medications, vitamins, and supplements you're taking.

Tell your doctor about your annual flu shot and pneumonia prevention.

Tell your doctor if you smoke, even if you cut back to two or three cigarettes a day. Smoking two or three cigarettes a day may not seem like much, but it can be enough to sustain bronchitis.

Go with a family member if possible. Someone traveling with you may remember something that is forgotten.

If you've seen another doctor, tell the current doctor what tests were done, and if possible bring the results, including x-ray results and lung function tests.

Tell your doctor about any prescription medications you take: For example, Amoxicillin is available before treatment for bronchitis. 

Preparing a list of questions in advance will help make the most of your time with your doctor. List of questions from most important to least important. For bronchitis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

What could be causing this symptom or condition?

Is it possible to be allergic to pets?

What are other possible causes, other possible causes of these symptoms or conditions?

What kind of tests do you need?

Can my symptoms be temporary or chronic?

What are the alternatives to the proposed method?

Have other medical conditions. How can manage them together?

Are there any restrictions that need to be followed?

If I have GERD, can I treat it with bronchitis?

What is the best way to quit smoking?

In addition to the questions you prepare, don't hesitate to ask questions at any time if you don't understand something.

Your doctor will likely ask some questions, such as:

Have you had a cold or flu recently?

Ever had pneumonia? (if available, may want to see an X-ray for pneumonia).

Are you a smoker or are you around smokers or other pollutants or smoke?

When did you start experiencing the first symptoms?

Are there constant or occasional symptoms?

When are symptoms severe?

Have exercise? Is it possible to climb stairs without difficulty? Is it possible to take a brisk walk?

Have chest pain?

What if anything seems to improve symptoms?

Do you snore loudly at night?

What, if anything shows up, the symptoms worsen?

Cold air bothering?

What you can do in the meantime may help ease symptoms:

Try a long night's sleep.

Drink a lot of water.

Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke.

Keep the indoor air warm and humid.

Tests and diagnostics

To  have a bronchitis diagnosis or a bronchitis test, your doctor may take the following approach:

Use a stethoscope to listen for breathing sounds and other unusual sounds in the lungs.

Chest X-ray.

Blood tests.

Sputum analysis - checks for the presence of bacteria in sputum when coughed up.

Take a pulmonary function test (PFT), to rule out other causes of symptoms.

Pulmonary function test:

This test shows signs of asthma or emphysema. During a lung function test, you blow into a device called a spirometer.

This test is painless and only takes a few minutes. If you have repeated bouts of bronchitis and your doctor doesn't recommend a lung function test, ask to have one done.

Treatment for bronchitis and drugs

The goal of treatment for bronchitis is to relieve symptoms and ease breathing. At times, all may need to recover from acute bronchitis, which can be:

Drink lots of fluids.

Breathe in the warm and humid air.

Prescription cough suppressants and acetaminophen or aspirin.

In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medication:

Treatment for bronchitis antibiotics. Bronchitis usually results after a viral infection, so antibiotics are not effective. However, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics if he or she suspects a bacterial infection. If you have a chronic lung disorder or if you smoke, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to reduce your risk of a serious secondary infection.

Cough drops. It is best not to relieve a cough because of the return of mucus and because coughing helps remove irritants from the lungs. If you cough while you sleep, use an OTC cough medicine enough to rest, but not enough to stop the cough completely. If a cough is disrupting sleep, your doctor may recommend a prescription cough suppressant.

Other drugs. If you have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), your doctor may recommend sprays and other medications to reduce inflammation and open the narrowing of the bronchi.

Therapy. If you have chronic bronchitis, talk to your doctor about pulmonary rehabilitation. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a breathing exercise program that works with a respiratory therapist to help learn to breathe easier and increase exercise capacity.

Lifestyle and remedies

In addition to basic treatments, fluids, and over-the-counter cough drops, these suggestions can help make you more comfortable, speed up recovery, and prevent complications from acute bronchitis, and help control symptoms of chronic bronchitis:

Avoid exposure to irritants, such as cigarette smoke. No smoking. Wear a mask when the air is polluted or if you are exposed to irritants, such as paints or household cleaners with strong vapors.

Use a humidifier in the room. The warm, humid air helps relieve coughs and loosens mucus in the airways. But be sure to clean the humidifier according to the manufacturer's recommendations to avoid the growth of bacteria and fungi in the water tank.

Use prescription. For pain relief and high fever, acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help.

Gauze mask. If cold air makes your cough worse and makes it difficult to breathe, use a mask before going outside.

Try pursed-lip breathing. If bronchitis is chronic, you may breathe too quickly. Pursed-lip breathing helps slow breathing and can make you feel better. Take a deep breath then slowly exhale through your mouth while pursing your lips. Repeating this technique increases the air pressure in the airways.

Exercising with bronchitis can be reduced or stopped depending on your health.

Alternative medicines

Some people believe that certain herbal remedies provide good relief for acute bronchitis.

Herbal. There are no randomized, controlled studies suggesting the use of Chinese herbs for bronchitis, and the safety of Chinese herbs is unknown.

Celestial tree. The South African Cranberry is an herb that has shown some effectiveness in reducing the symptoms of acute bronchitis. More research is needed. Check with your doctor before trying any herbs.


If you have frequent episodes of bronchitis, the culprit could be something in the environment. Cold and humid locations - especially in combination with air pollution or cigarette smoke can predispose to acute bronchitis. When the problem is severe, it may be necessary to consider changing where you live and work.

These measures can also help reduce the risk of bronchitis and protect the lungs in general:

Avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke increases the risk of chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Try to avoid people with colds or flu - exposure to the viruses that lead to bronchitis, the lower the risk of catching it. Avoid crowds during flu season.

Get a flu vaccine every year. Many cases of acute bronchitis result from influenza. The annual flu shot can help protect against the flu, which in turn can reduce the risk of bronchitis.

Ask your doctor about the pneumonia shot. If you're older than 60 or have risk factors like diabetes, heart disease, and emphysema, consider getting a pneumonia shot. In addition, a drug known as Prevnar can help protect children against pneumonia. It is recommended for all children under 2 years of age and for children 2 - 5 years of age who are at particular risk for pneumococcal diseases, such as those with weakened immune systems, asthma, cardiovascular disease, or cellular anemia. sickle cell. Side effects from this pneumococcal vaccine are usually minor and include mild pain or swelling at the injection site. If you had your pneumonia shot the year before or more the year before, your doctor may recommend another shot.

Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often. To reduce your risk of getting the virus, wash your hands often and get in the habit of using hand sanitizer and not touching the inside of your nose or rubbing your eyes.

Wear the mask. If near other people who are coughing and sneezing, wear a mask covering your mouth and nose to reduce the risk of infection.

Related articles:

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes

Medications for Bronchitis

Lecture of chronic bronchitis

Pathology of pneumonia (bronchitis inflammation)

Paediatrics: Bronchial disease

Acute Bronchitis - A Medical Dictionary, Bibliography, and Annotated Research Guide (PDF Book)