We know: All About Bronchitis

What is bronchitis?

Bronchitis is a lung condition in which the main air passages are inflamed. Acute bronchitis is when the condition comes on quickly and lasts for a short time. Chronic bronchitis usually means condition lasts for at least 3 months in two consecutive years.

What are the symptoms of bronchitis?

Symptoms of bronchitis include:

  • cough
  • mucus or sputum
  • shortness of breath
  • tightening of the chest
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • wheezing

What causes bronchitis?

Children, older adults, smokers and people with heart and lung problems are the most likely to get bronchitis.


Acute bronchitis is often the result of a viral respiratory infection that affects you nose and throat and then spreads to your lungs. You may also get a secondary bacterial infection.


Chronic bronchitis is a long-term disease most often caused by smoking or exposure to air pollutants. It can be accompanied by emphysema. The combination of the two is called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. (See our article on emphysema and COPD.)

What are some of the treatments for acute bronchitis?

Common treatments include:

  • aspirin or Tylenol for the fever
  • rest
  • drinking fluids
  • humidifying the air
  • staying away from smoke
  • inhalers
  • antibiotics for the bacterial infection

How can I avoid acute bronchitis?

You can avoid viruses by washing your hands. Getting an annual flu vaccine can also help avoid bronchitis. Also stay away from cigarette smoke and other air pollution.

How long does it take to get over acute bronchitis

Most of the symptoms go away in a week to ten days. However, a dry cough may remain for several months.


For more information about the treatments and prognosis of chronic bronchitis, see article on emphysema and COPD.


Thanks to information provided by the National Institutes for Health for help in preparing this article.



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