Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, the airways that carry air to your lungs. It causes a cough that often brings up mucus. It can also cause shortness of breath, wheezing, a low fever, and chest tightness. There are two main types of bronchitis: acute and chronic.

Most cases of acute bronchitis get better within several days. But your cough can last for several weeks after the infection is gone.

The same viruses that cause colds and the flu often cause acute bronchitis. These viruses spread through the air when people cough, or though physical contact (for example, on unwashed hands). Being exposed to tobacco smoke, air pollution, dusts, vapors, and fumes can also cause acute bronchitis. Less often, bacteria can also cause acute bronchitis.

To diagnose acute bronchitis, your health care provider will ask about your symptoms and listen to your breathing. You may also have other tests.

Treatments include rest, fluids, and aspirin (for adults) or acetaminophen to treat fever. A humidifier or steam can also help. You may need inhaled medicine to open your airways if you are wheezing. Antibiotics won't help if the cause is viral. You may get antibiotics if the cause is bacterial.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Symptoms of Acute Bronchitis

The following features are indicative of Acute Bronchitis:
  • cough
  • wheezing
  • low fever
  • chest tightness or pain
  • chest pain
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • malaise

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Common Causes of Acute Bronchitis

The following are the most common causes of Acute Bronchitis:
  • bacterial infections
  • lung irritants
  • contagious pathogens

Other Causes of Acute Bronchitis

The following are the less common causes of Acute Bronchitis:
  • mucosal hypersecretion
  • airways obstruction due to goblet cells

Risk Factors for Acute Bronchitis

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Acute Bronchitis:
  • smoking
  • contact with dust and chemical fumes
  • exposure to vapors from coal mining

Prevention of Acute Bronchitis

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Acute Bronchitis. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • avoid smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
  • practice good hand hygiene
  • keep yourself and the child updated with recommended immunizations

Occurrence of Acute Bronchitis

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Acute Bronchitis cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Acute Bronchitis can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Acute Bronchitis can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Acute Bronchitis

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Acute Bronchitis:
  • Chest X-ray: To exclude pneumonia
  • Sputum sample test: To find pathologic organisms
  • Blood test: To diagnose inflammation

Doctor for Diagnosis of Acute Bronchitis

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Acute Bronchitis:
  • Pulmonologist

Complications of Acute Bronchitis if untreated

Yes, Acute Bronchitis causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Acute Bronchitis is left untreated:
  • pneumonia
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Procedures for Treatment of Acute Bronchitis

The following procedures are used to treat Acute Bronchitis:
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation: To learn how to breathe more easily and enhance ability to exercise

Self-care for Acute Bronchitis

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Acute Bronchitis:
  • Smoking cessation: Quit smoking completely
  • Avoid lung irritants: Wear a mask when you are exposed to irritants or the air is polluted
  • Use a humidifier: Warm and moist air helps to provide relief from cough and loosens mucus in the airways
  • Use face mask outside: Put on a cold-air face mask before you go outside

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Acute Bronchitis

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Acute Bronchitis:
  • Oxygen supplementation: To treat hypoxemia

Time for Treatment of Acute Bronchitis

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Acute Bronchitis to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 1 - 4 weeks

Is Acute Bronchitis Infectious?

Yes, Acute Bronchitis is known to be infectious. It can spread across people via the following means:
  • weakened immune system
  • contact with person suffering with bronchitis
  • exposure to air pollution, secondhand smoke, dust or chemicals

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 9/05/2019.
This page provides information for Acute Bronchitis.
Common Cold
Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections

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