Is this topic for you?
This topic is about acute bronchitis in
people who don't have other health problems. Acute bronchitis may be treated
differently if you have a long-term lung disease, such as
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). For more
information, see the topics
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and
What is bronchitis?
Bronchitis means that the tubes that carry air
to the lungs (the bronchial tubes) are inflamed and
irritated. When this happens, the tubes swell and produce
mucus. This makes you cough.
two types of bronchitis:
- Acute bronchitis usually comes on quickly and gets better after 2
to 3 weeks. Most healthy people who get acute bronchitis get better without any
problems. See a picture of
acute bronchitis .
- Chronic bronchitis keeps coming back and can last a
long time, especially in people who smoke. Chronic bronchitis means you have a
cough with mucus most days of the month for 3 months of the year for at least 2
years in a row.
This topic focuses on acute bronchitis. Both children and
adults can get acute bronchitis.
What causes acute bronchitis?
Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a
virus. Often a person gets acute bronchitis after
upper respiratory tract infection such as a cold or
the flu. In rare cases, acute bronchitis is caused by
Acute bronchitis also can be
caused by breathing in things that irritate the bronchial tubes, such as smoke.
It also can happen if a person inhales food or vomit into the lungs.
What are the symptoms?
common symptom of acute bronchitis is a cough that is dry and hacking at first.
After a few days, the cough may bring up mucus. You may have a low fever and
Acute bronchitis symptoms usually start 3 or 4 days
after an upper respiratory tract infection. Most people get better in 2 to 3
weeks. But some people continue to have a cough for more than 4 weeks.
Pneumonia can have symptoms like acute bronchitis.
Because pneumonia can be serious, it is important to know the differences
between the two illnesses. Symptoms of pneumonia can include a high fever,
shaking chills, and shortness of breath.
How is acute bronchitis diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you about
your symptoms and examine you. This usually gives the doctor enough information
to find out if you have acute bronchitis.
In some cases, the
doctor may take a chest
X-ray to make sure that you don't have pneumonia or
another lung problem.
How is it treated?
Most people can treat symptoms of acute bronchitis
at home. Drink plenty of fluids. Use an
over-the-counter cough medicine with an expectorant if
your doctor recommends it. This can help you bring up mucus when you cough.
Suck on cough drops or hard candies to soothe a dry or sore throat. Cough drops
won't stop your cough, but they may make your throat feel better.