Skip to content

    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

    Don’t Let Asthma Keep You on the Couch

    No doubt about it -- exercise is safe and healthy for people with asthma. It can even make the condition better in the long run. A growing number of studies show that exercise can improve breathing control and how you feel day to day. The key is to make the right moves before and during your workouts to reduce your symptoms and ward off an attack. Always check with your asthma doctor before you begin any fitness routine, but these tips can help, too.

    Read the Don’t Let Asthma Keep You on the Couch article > >

    Bronchitis and asthma are two inflammatory airway conditions. Acute bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the airways that usually resolves itself after running its course. It's caused by viral or bacterial infections. Chronic bronchitis, which is longer lasting, 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 that cause airways to narrow.

    When asthma and acute bronchitis occur together, the condition 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.

    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

    Lung and bronchial tube graphic
    5 common triggers.
    group jogging in park
    Should you avoid fitness activities?
    asthma inhaler
    Learn about your options.
    man feeling faint
    What’s the difference?
    Madison Wisconsin Capitol
    woman wearing cpap mask
    red wine pouring into glass
    Woman holding inhaler
    Man outdoors coughing
    Lung and bronchial tube graphic
    10 Worst Asthma Cities