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Bronchitis – Symptoms and causes


This article is for information purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Seek medical care for your treatment.

What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is an inflammation of your airways (trachea and bronchi), which carry air to and from your lungs. People with bronchitis eventually have a persistent cough and thick, discolored mucus. Your cough may last for several weeks. It is the primary symptom of bronchitis. Viruses can also cause chronic bronchitis. Smoke and irritants have the potential to cause acute and chronic bronchitis. 

Acute bronchitis frequently develops after a cold or other respiratory infection. Chronic bronchitis is a grave condition which is caused by smoking, persistent irritation or swelling of the lining of the bronchial tubes.

Types of bronchitis:

When we talk about bronchitis, we mean acute bronchitis which is a short-term condition that makes you cough. Certain people get bronchitis more frequently which is called chronic bacteria. There are two types of bronchitis:

  1. Acute bronchitis:

Acute bronchitis is aggravated by the virus and disappears on its own within a few weeks. Generally people do not follow proper treatment for acute bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is also known as chest cold, generally refines within a week to 10 days without persistent effects, although the cough may linger for weeks.

  1. Chronic bronchitis:

If you have a cough filled with mucus for several days or more than 3 months in a year than you have chronic bacteria. And this carries on for minimum 2 years. If you are suffering from chronic bronchitis you are susceptible to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). For further queries ask your doctor if you should get tested for COPD. You are more likely to have chronic bronchitis if you have recurrent rounds of bronchitis, which needs quick medical care. Chronic bronchitis is one of the conditions associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Is Bronchitis contagious and how it is diagnosed?

Bronchitis is not contagious but viruses and bacteria are liable for it. For example, if you have flu, chances are that you might have bronchitis. When a friend or relative of yours catches flu from you, their airways don’t get swelled up like yours. 

Your health history and clinical diagnosis tells your doctor if you have bronchitis. Your doctor will test your lungs by listening to your lungs for the symptoms of congestion but ensure that you are breathing properly.  He might test you for viral infections like flu or COVID-19.

Symptoms of bronchitis:


Acute and chronic bronchitis symptoms are the same including breathing issues, such as:

  • Chest congestion when your chest is full or blocked
  • Cough with white, yellow or green mucus
  • Breathlessness
  • Wheezing or hissing when breathing

Symptoms of acute bronchitis are:

  • Body pains and chills
  • Feeling worn out
  • slight fever
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat

Even after the other symptoms of acute bronchitis have disappeared, the cough may last a few weeks as your bronchial tubes heal and swelling subsides. If this lasts a lot longer, the problem could be something else. If you get another cough, fever or breathlessness, consult your doctor to confirm if you have COVID-19. When you have chronic bronchitis, your cough lasts at least 3 months and reappears at least 2 years in succession. Also you get periods when you cough or have grave symptoms. This is the time when you may get acute infection.

Causes of bronchitis:

Generally acute bronchitis is caused by that same virus that causes cold or flu. But sometimes, bacteria can be held responsible for it. As a result your body combats germs; your bronchial tubes inflate and produce more mucus. This means you have little openings for air to flow through, which make it difficult to breathe. Antibiotic don’t combat viruses, so this medication fails in various cases of bronchitis. Usually virus is liable for bronchitis. Still, anything that irks your airways causes it.

Causes of chronic bronchitis are:

  • Inhaling polluted air and other irritants like dust, toxic gases fumes that disturb the lungs.
  • Smoking or inhaling in second hand smoke for extended period of time.
  • Viruses that lead to bronchitis are influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, rhinovirus and coronavirus.
  • Bacteria responsible for bronchitis include Bordetella pertussis, Mycoplasma pneumonia and Chlamydia pneumonia.

Preventing measures for Bronchitis:

You should consider following tips to avert acute or chronic bronchitis:

  • Avoid smoking
  • Get yourself vaccinated for flu because you can get bronchitis from flu virus.
  • Ensure you have an up to date Pertussis vaccine.
  • Frequently wash your hands and use alcohol based sanitizers.
  • Don’t for get to put on your mask to avoid irritants that irritate your lungs.


Acute bronchitis is not critical but very annoying. It takes few weeks to show up the symptoms of acute bronchitis. Certain health conditions like asthma, heart or breathing issues can worsen your symptoms.

Chronic bronchitis is a grave condition and probably you may have a lung injury.

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