Acute Bronchitis – Symptoms and Causes

What is bronchitis?

Your bronchial tubes transport the air from your trachea to your lungs. When inflammation takes place in these inflamed tubes, mucus may accumulate. The condition is called bronchitis, and it causes symptoms which may include coughing, shortness of breath and low fever.

Acute or chronic bronchitis may occur:

  • Acute bronchitis usually lasts less than 10 days, but cough may persist for several weeks.
  • Chronic bronchitis, may last for many weeks and often returns. This condition is most commonly found among people with  asthma or emphysema.

Learn more about the symptoms, causes and treatment of acute pulmonary disease.

Acute bronchitis symptoms

Early symptoms of acute bronchitis mimic symptoms of a common cold or flu.

Typical symptoms

Such symptoms may include:

  • sneezing
  • wheezing
  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • feeling cold easily
  • back and muscle aches
  • increased temperature of 100°F to 100.4°F (37.7°C to 38°C)
  • tiredness

After your first infection, you are likely to cough. Cough will generally be dry at first and then become productive, meaning that it will produce mucus. Production cough is the most common symptom of acute bronchitis and may last between 10 days and 3 weeks.

Another symptom that can be noticed is a change in color in your mucus, between white and green or yellow. It is not to say that the infection is viral or bacterial. This simply means that your immune system is in action.

Emergency symptoms

Call your physician if you develop any of the following symptoms in addition to those listed above:

  • unexpected weight loss.
  • deep and barking cough.
  • trouble breathing
  • chest pain
  • a fever equal to or greater than 100.4°F (38°C).
  • A cough lasting for over 10 days.

Diagnosing acute bronchitis

In a number of cases, acute bronchitis recovers without treatment. But if you go to your doctor due to acute bronchitis symptoms, they will start with a physical examination.

During this examination, your doctor will listen to your lungs when you breathe, checking for symptoms like wheezing. They will also ask you if you cough, for example, at what frequency and if there is mucus production. They can also ask questions about recent colds or viral infections, and if you have other breathing problems.

If your doctor is unsure of your diagnosis, he or she may recommend chest radiography. This test will help your doctor determine whether you suffer from pneumonia.

Blood tests and cultures may be necessary if your doctor thinks you have a different infection as well as bronchitis.

Acute bronchitis treatment

Unless you’re experiencing serious symptoms, Your doctor can’t do much about treating acute bronchitis. For the most part, treatment involves primarily home care.

Home care tips

These steps are expected to help alleviate your symptoms as you improve.

Would you like to try some of these simple remedies? Get a humidifier, ginger tea and dark honey online now and begin to feel better earlier.

These tips may help to ease most symptoms, However, if you whezzing or have trouble breathing, consult your doctor. They may recommend inhalational medications to help open the airway.

Treatment with antibiotics

When you are feeling ill, you can really hope your doctor will recommend medications to help you feel good .

But it is important to know that antibiotics are not recommended for people with acute bronchitis. The majority of cases are due to viruses, and antibiotics are not working on viruses, to make sure the antibiotics don’t help you treat this disease.

On the other hand, if you have acute bronchitis and are at high risk of pneumonia, your physician may recommend antibiotics during cold and flu season. That’s because acute bronchitis may develop to pneumonia, and the use of antibiotics to prevent pneumonia.

Acute bronchitis in children

Children are at a higher risk of developing acute bronchitis than the average adult. This is partly because of the risk factors that affect them only, including:

  • chronic sinusitis
  • enlarged tonsils
  • increased exposure to viruses in places like schools and playing fields.
  • asthma
  • allergies
  • inhaled pollutants, including dust

Symptoms and treatment

Children’s symptoms of acute bronchitis are very similar to adults’ symptoms. For that reason, the treatment is much the same as well.

Your child should drink lots of clear liquids and have enough sleep in bed. You can give them acetaminophen (Tylenol) in case of fever or pain.

However, you should not give non-prescription drugs to children under 6 years of age without consulting a doctor. Also avoid cough medicine, because it can be unsafe.

Causes and risk factors of acute bronchitis

Several possible causes of acute bronchitis exist, and factors that increase your risk of suffering from the disease.


The causes of acute bronchitis are virus and bacterial infections, a number of environmental factors and other lung conditions.

Viral infection: Viruses cause between 85 and 95 percent of acute bronchitis in adults. Viruses responsible for colds and influenza can also cause acute bronchitis.

Bacterial infection: In a few rare cases, bacterial bronchitis may occur following a viral infection of bronchitis. This can happen because of bacterial infections like Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydia pneumoniae and Bordetella pertussis (which causes whooping cough).

Irritants: Inhaling irritants such as smoke, smog, or Chemical fumes may result in inflammation of the trachea and bronchi. It may cause acute bronchitis.

Other lung conditions: Persons suffering from chronic bronchitis or asthma occasionally develop acute bronchitis. In such cases, acute bronchitis is unlikely to be contagious because it is not caused by infection.

Risk factors

Factors which increase your risk for acute bronchitis include:

  • inhaling cigarette smoke, including second-hand smoke.
  • decreased resistance to disease or weakening of the immune system.
  • gastric reflux
  • repeatedly exposed to irritants, including dust or chemical fumes.
  • no vaccines for influenza, pneumonia and whooping cough.
  • over the age of 50.

Acute bronchitis compared to pneumonia.

Causes: The most common cause of bronchitis is viruses, It may also be due to bacteria or irritants. Pneumonia, however, is most commonly caused by bacterial, but may also be due to viruses or other microbes.

Respiratory infections include bronchitis and pneumonia. Two of the major differences among these conditions are the causal agents and parts of your lungs affected by these two conditions.

Location: Bronchitis causes swelling of the bronchi. They are tubes attached to your windpipe that carry the air in your lungs. They branch in tiny tubes called bronchioles.

Pneumonia, however, causes the alveoli to become inflamed They’re little sacks at the end of your bronchioles.

Treatment differs for both conditions, so your physician will take care of making the correct diagnosis.

Is bronchitis an infectious disease?

Acute bronchitis can spread. Because it is caused by a short-term infection that can spread from one individual to another. The infection may spread by droplets of mucus released when you cough, sneeze or speak.

But chronic bronchitis is not contagious. Well, that’s because it’s not due to infection. Preferably, it is caused by long-term inflammation, which often happens because of exposure to irritants such as smoking. Inflammation cannot be transmitted to other people.

Symptoms of acute bronchitis usually disappear several weeks later. However, if you get a different infection after the first one, it may take longer for you to heal.

Prevention of acute bronchitis.

There is no way to completely prevent acute bronchitis, since it has different causes. But you can reduce your risk by following these tips(1)

If you have low immunity, because of a health problem or a later age, Special precautions must be taken to avoid acute bronchitis. That’s because you are more likely to develop complications of it such as acute respiratory insufficiency or pneumonia. Ensure that you follow the above preventive measures to minimize your risk.(2)

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