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Bronchitis (Acute)

Inflammation of the breathing tubes is known as acute bronchitis. The term "bronchi" refers to these airways. Other alterations and increased mucus production are brought on by this inflammation. Although there are many different varieties of bronchitis, acute and chronic infections are the most prevalent. A chest cold may also be used to describe acute bronchitis.


Most symptoms of acute bronchitis last up to two weeks. Some people's coughs can linger for up to eight weeks. Long-lasting bronchitis is chronic. The prevalence is higher among smokers.


How does it affect you?


The bronchi, which are the cells that line your airways, swell up when you have acute bronchitis. The infection typically spreads to the lungs after beginning in the nose or throat. The tubes leading to your lungs swell when the body tries to combat the infection. You start to cough as a result. Although you frequently cough up mucous, sometimes you have a dry cough.


Less air can enter your lungs through the tubes because your airways are larger. Shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, and wheezing may result from this.


Your body eventually battles the infection and recovers. The typical duration of acute bronchitis is 3 to 10 days. However, even after the infection has cleared up, you could still cough and produce mucus for a few weeks.




An infectious virus is most frequently to blame for acute bronchitis. Acute bronchitis can be brought on by the same viruses that bring on colds. The infection initially has an impact on your throat, sinuses, and nose. The infection then spreads to the bronchial tube lining. Your body produces mucus and experiences swelling as it battles the virus.


A virus can be contracted through skin contact or inhalation. If you are close to someone who is sick with a cold or acute bronchitis, your risk of contracting the virus increases.


Uncommon causes of acute bronchitis include:

  • Fungal or bacterial infections
  • exposure to irritants like fumes, smoke, or dust If you already have bronchial tube damage, you are more vulnerable.
  • Heartburn is a common symptom of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). When stomach acid enters the bronchial tubes, acute bronchitis can develop.




  • Uncomfortable chest
  • Coughing up mucous, which can be either clear or yellow-green
  • Low-grade fatigue fever is the norm.
  • Breathlessness that worsens with activity
  • Wheezing occurs in asthmatics.


Even after acute bronchitis has subsided, you can experience a dry, persistent cough for 1 to 4 weeks.


Knowing if you have bronchitis or pneumonia can be challenging at times. You are more likely to feel sicker, be more short of breath, and have a high fever and chills if you have pneumonia.




A medical history and physical exam by a healthcare professional can frequently identify acute bronchitis. Testing could be carried out to rule out conditions like pneumonia or asthma. Any of the following examinations could be used to support a diagnosis:

  • Chest x-rays - a test that creates images of internal organs, bones, and tissues using invisible radiation beams, including the lungs.
  • Pulse oximetry - A little device called an oximeter gauges the blood's oxygen content. A tiny sensor is taped or clipped onto a finger or toe to take this measurement. A tiny red light may be seen inside the sensor when the machine is turned on. The red light does not get hot, and the sensor is painless.
  • Arterial blood gas - This blood test examines the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.
  • Pulmonary function tests - These examinations aid in determining the lungs' capacity to transport air into and out of the lungs. Typically, specific equipment that you breathe into is used for the tests.
  • Cultures of nasal discharge and sputum - To locate and identify the microbe causing the infection, tests may be conducted on sputum that you cough up or a sample from your nose.




If you are told you have acute bronchitis, your symptoms may lead you to miss a few days of work or school. A cough that lasts up to three weeks but gradually goes away is another possibility.


Normally, this infection only lasts for one to two weeks. Rest, Increase liquid intake, take a cough suppressant, and painkillers may be advised by your doctor. A steamer or humidifier could be useful. If you are wheezing, you might need to take an inhalation medication to clear your airways.


It has not been demonstrated that antibiotics can treat acute bronchitis or lessen its symptoms. Antibiotics are not used since viruses cause the majority of cases of acute bronchitis. Only bacteria can be fully treated with antibiotics.




A chest cold, also known as acute bronchitis, occurs when the airways of the lungs swell and produce mucus. That is what causes you to cough. Acute bronchitis can last for as little as three weeks.


Dr. Tanay Joshi
Respiratory & Sleep Medicine
Meet The Doctor
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