Skip to content

    Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Bronchitis Diagnosis and Treatment: What to Know

    If you recently had a cold that turned into a nagging cough, you might have acute bronchitis. (In medical terms, “acute” means conditions that come on quickly and last a short time).

    Bronchitis happens when your bronchial tubes, which carry oxygen from your windpipe to your lungs, become inflamed. The lining of the tubes makes mucus, which makes your cough worse.

    Recommended Related to Lung Disease/Respiratory Problems

    Mesothelioma: Tests, Diagnosis, and Treatments

    Mesothelioma is cancer of the mesothelium, a protective membrane that lines many of the body's internal organs. Most often, mesothelioma occurs in the lining of the lungs, called the pleura. Mesothelioma is most often diagnosed after a patient sees a doctor because of symptoms such as pain in the lower back, shortness of breath, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal pain and/or swelling. But symptoms alone will not tell your doctor if you have mesothelioma. A medical history, physical exam, and diagnostic...

    Read the Mesothelioma: Tests, Diagnosis, and Treatments article > >

    The condition can also cause wheezing and make it hard to catch your breath.

    To know for sure whether your recent illness is acute bronchitis and not an allergy or other problem, you should see your doctor.

    While many cases go away on their own, others require treatment. Learn more about how doctors diagnose and treat bronchitis:

    How Do I Know Whether it’s Acute or Chronic?

    First, it’s important to figure out a time line.

    If you have a cough and breathing problems that have lasted for months or years, it might be chronic bronchitis. This is a long-term health problem that needs ongoing treatment.

    Some people with very serious chronic bronchitis have it their entire lives. Others can successfully treat it. You’re more likely to get it if you smoke.

    This usually requires a combination of medications and lifestyle changes. Important ways you can improve your lung health include:

    But those steps are important if you think you have acute bronchitis, too.

    To learn other ways to treat your cough, see your doctor to find out what’s causing it.

    Diagnosis of Acute Bronchitis

    When you see your doctor, be ready to talk about your symptoms in detail. You should be able to answer:

    • How long have you had your cough?
    • Are you coughing up mucus?
    • Is there blood in your sputum?
    • Did you ever have a fever or other symptoms, such as chest tightness?
    • Did you have a cold before the cough?
    • Are you wheezing?
    • Do you have trouble catching your breath?
    • Have you been around other people who have the same kinds of symptoms?

    At the appointment, your doctor will go over your symptoms and give you a physical exam. He’ll listen to your chest while you cough. This may be enough to make a diagnosis. You may not need any tests. However, there are other times when you might need one or more.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    man coughing
    You may not even know you have it.
    blood clot
    Signs of this potentially fatal complication.
     
    man coughing
    When a cold becomes bronchitis.
    human lungs
    Causes behind painful breathing, fluid buildup.
     

    chest x-ray
    Slideshow
    Bronchitis Overview
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Copd Myth Fact Quiz
    QUIZ
    Energy Boosting Foods
    SLIDESHOW
     

    lungs
    Article
    smokestacks
    Article
     
    woman coughing
    Article
    Lung xray and caduceus
    Article