Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Asthma Health Center

Font Size

Asthmatic Bronchitis

Every time you breathe in, air enters your nose and mouth. It flows down your throat and into a series of air passageways called bronchial tubes. Those tubes need to be open for the air to reach your lungs, where the oxygen is passed into the blood to be transported to your body's tissues.

If the airways are inflamed, air has more difficulty getting to your lungs. With less air getting in, you can feel short of breath. You may wheeze and cough in an attempt to draw in more oxygen through tightened passageways.

Recommended Related to Asthma

Exercising When You Have Allergic Asthma

Exercise is good for you, and you can exercise safely, even with allergic asthma. A little planning is all it takes to help you breathe easier and stay in shape.

Read the Exercising When You Have Allergic Asthma article > >

Bronchitis and asthma are two inflammatory airway conditions. Bronchitis is inflammation of the airways that is usually caused by viral or bacterial infections. Chronic bronchitis can be triggered by long-term exposure to environmental irritants such as tobacco smoke, dust, or chemicals.

Asthma is an inflammatory condition that leads to tightening of the muscles around the airways and swelling, which cause airways to narrow.

When the two conditions coexist, it is called asthmatic bronchitis.

What Causes Asthmatic Bronchitis?

There are many triggers that may initiate the release of inflammatory substances. Common asthmatic bronchitis triggers include:

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Pollution
  • Allergens such as pollen, mold, dust, pet dander, or food (and food additives like MSG)
  • Chemicals
  • Certain medications (aspirin, beta-blockers)
  • Exercise
  • Weather changes (for example, cold weather)
  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Strong emotions (laughing or crying)

What Are the Symptoms of Asthmatic Bronchitis?

The symptoms of asthmatic bronchitis are a combination of the symptoms of bronchitis and asthma.

You may experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Cough
  • Chest tightness
  • Excess mucus production

You might wonder, is asthmatic bronchitis contagious? Bronchitis itself can be caused by a virus or bacteria, which are contagious. However, chronic asthmatic bronchitis typically is not contagious.

Visiting Your Doctor

If you've been experiencing symptoms like those listed above, make an appointment with your doctor. After going through a series of questions about your symptoms and taking a medical history and physical exam, your doctor may order tests such as:

  • Spirometry. A test that measures lung function as you breathe in and out of a mouthpiece that is attached to a device called a spirometer.
  • Peak expiratory flow. A test that measures the force of air you breathe out (exhale) into the mouthpiece of a device called a peak expiratory flow meter.
  • Chest X-ray. A radiology test that produces images of the chest to look for evidence of other conditions that could be causing your cough and breathing problems.

 

Treatments for Asthmatic Bronchitis

Asthmatic bronchitis treatments are essentially the same as those used to treat asthma and bronchitis, and may include:

  • Short-acting bronchodilators, such as albuterol, to help open the airway to provide short-term relief
  • Inhaled corticosteroids. Long-acting bronchodilators used together with inhaled corticosteroids
  • Leukotriene modifiers
  • Cromolyn or  theophylline
  • Combination inhalers containing both a steroid and a bronchodilator

Bacterial respiratory infection may be treated with antibiotics.

Treatment also involves avoiding asthma triggers by following these tips:

  • Wash your bed linens and blankets in hot water.
  • Dust and vacuum regularly.
  • Use a HEPA air filter in your home.
  • Keep pets out of your bedroom.
  • Don't smoke, and try to stay away from other people who smoke.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on August 04, 2012

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

Take the WebMD Asthma assessment to get Personalized Action Plan

Start Now

Today on WebMD

Distressed woman
Slideshow
Woman holding an asthma inhaler
Article
 
Get Personalized Asthma Advice
Health Check
asthma overview
Slideshow
 
Los Angeles skyline in smog
Slideshow
man in a field with allergies
Slideshow
 
Woman holding inhaler
VIDEO
Slideshow Allergy Myths and Facts
Slideshow
 

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Man outdoors coughing
Article
Lung and bronchial tube graphic
Article
 
10 Worst Asthma Cities
Slideshow
runner
Article