Bronchitis is a respiratory disease that causes the lining of your bronchial tubes to become inflamed. People who have bronchitis often cough up thickened mucus.
Bronchitis can be acute or chronic. Acute bronchitis commonly develops from a cold or respiratory infection and usually improves within a few days. Chronic bronchitis is a constant inflammation or irritation of the bronchial tubes, often caused by smoking. It is one of the conditions included in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Signs and Symptoms Include:
- Shortness of breath
- Mucus (clear, white, greenish or yellowish-gray in color – color change and/or smell may be a sign of infection)
- Chest discomfort
- Slight fever and chills
Risk Factors Include:
- Exposure to irritants (grains, textiles, chemical fumes)
- Cigarette smoke
- Low resistance (older adults, young children and people with colds)
- Gastric reflux (severe heartburn irritates your throat – may cause lung irritation)
Most cases of acute bronchitis clear up on their own, without medications. Bronchitis is usually viral in nature, so it doesn’t respond to antibiotics. But, if your physician suspects you have a bacterial infection, he or she may prescribe an antibiotic. Coughing may be controlled at nighttime with a cough suppressant. Your physician may recommend an metered dose inhaler or nebulizer to reduce inflammation and open the narrowed passages in your lungs.
See a Physician if Your Cough:
- Keeps you from sleeping
- Lasts more than three weeks
- Is accompanied by fever higher than 100.4 F
- Produces blood
- Produces discolored mucus