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Bronchitis is a respiratory disease. Itoccurs due to the inflammation of bronchial tubes which carry air to the lungs. As a result, the bronchial tube swells and produces mucus that leads to coughing, phlegm, and breathlessness.

Types of Bronchitis

Bronchitis are of two types: Acute bronchitis and Chronic bronchitis.

Acute bronchitis

Acute bronchitis is common. Mostly, it occurs due to bacterial and viral infections but a patient can recover within 2-3 weeks.

Chronic bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is severe and lasts at least for 3months or continues for years at times. Mostly, it is caused due to smoking, resulting in constant irritation and inflammation of bronchial tubes.

Causes of Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis is caused due to lung infections. 90% of acute bronchitis is caused due to viral infections that leadto cold or flu. It can also be caused due to inhalation of food, vomit or smoke into the lungs which causes irritation in bronchial tubes.

Chronic bronchitis is caused mainly due to long-term smoking as well as air pollutants such as dust and toxic gases present in the environment that leads to irritation of bronchial tubes and production of excess mucus.

Symptoms of Bronchitis

The symptoms of both acute and chronic bronchitis may include:

  • Coughing
  • Excessive production mucus
  • Breathlessness
  • Low fever and chills
  • Shoulder or chest pain
  • Tiredness

In case of acute bronchitis, coughing lingers for couple of weeks but the inflammation is resolved eventually. But in case of chronic bronchitis, the coughing continues for three months or longer .

Diagnosis of Bronchitis

In the initial days, it may be difficult to diagnose bronchitis due to common cold and cough. The doctor may conduct physical examination using the stethoscope and hearing the breathing pattern.

In some cases, doctor may also suggest undergoing the tests that include: chest x-ray, sputum test, and pulmonary function test.

Chest X-ray

The chest x-ray test will help in determining whether the coughing is due to pneumonia or other condition.

Sputum test

Sputum test helps in determining the signs of allergies in the mucus.

Pulmonary function test

Pulmonary function test helps in measuring the capacity of air the lungs can hold. It helps in determining the signs of emphysema and asthma.

Treatment for Bronchitis

Mostly, the acute bronchitis is resolved without any medical treatment, in two weeks. In some cases, the treatment of bronchitis includes medications like antibiotics, cough medicines, etc.


The doctor may prescribe antibiotics if there is a bacterial infection.

Cough medicine

The doctor may advise cough suppressants or cough medicine sometimes, to help get sound sleep.

In case of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, one of the other medications recommended by the doctor is the inhaler which helps in reduction of inflammation.

UPDATED ON 15/11/2023

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