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Bronchitis – Signs, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Bronchitis – Signs, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Key Takeaways

  • Bronchitis can be acute or chronic. 
  • It is hard to distinguish the signs and symptoms of bronchitis from the signs and symptoms of a common cold.
  • Bronchitis usually resolves without treatment in a couple of days and up to two weeks.

What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes. Bronchial tubes carry the air to and from the lungs.

The disease can be either acute or chronic:

  • Acute bronchitis – usually develops from a common cold or any other infection that affects the respiratory system. It usually lasts only a few days and there are no further complications, even though in many cases cough can last a couple of weeks after acute bronchitis. Often and repeated bouts of acute bronchitis require a more detailed medical attention in order to properly diagnose the real cause of these frequent relapses of acute bronchitis.
  • Chronic bronchitis – usually occurs due to cigarette smoking. It is a more serious condition, which is characterized by a chronic irritation if the bronchial tubes lining.

Even though bronchitis can affect anyone at any age, some people are at a greater risk of suffering from bronchitis than others.

Risk factors include:

  • Cigarette smoking – people who do smoke are at  greater risk of suffering from bronchitis, especially chronic bronchitis and they also tend to have more complications that affect the respiratory system
  • Exposure to air irritants – people who do work with certain type of lung irritants or chemicals are at a greater risk suffering from bronchitis
  • Gastric reflux – repeated and severe heartburn over the time irritates the throat making it more vulnerable and more prone to developing bronchitis.
  • Low resistance and problems with the immune system – people who do suffer from other medical conditions and especially lung conditions are more likely to suffer from bronchitis and tend to have repeated attacks of bronchitis. Infants, young adults, and elderly persons are more affected.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Bronchitis?

The severity of the signs and symptoms of bronchitis will depend, whether it is acute or chronic bronchitis. In cases of acute bronchitis, the signs and symptoms will go away after a couple of days, even though cough can continue for a few weeks. In cases of chronic bronchitis, the signs and symptoms last for a couple of months, often accompanied with other complications and they usually tend to be more severe and to get worse over the time.

Signs and symptoms of bronchitis include:

  • Cough
  • Production of sputum, which can be from clear white, yellowish gray, or green in color
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Chest discomfort
  • Fatigue

Bronchitis

How is Bronchitis diagnosed?

It is hard to distinguish the signs and symptoms of bronchitis from the signs and symptoms of a common cold. However, after a few days, if the signs and symptoms still continue or tend to get worse there is a chance that it is bronchitis.

Bronchitis is diagnosed with the help of:

  • Sputum test
  • Chest X-Ray
  • Pulmonary Function Test

How is Bronchitis treated?

Bronchitis usually resolves without treatment in a couple of days and up to two weeks. However, in many cases antibiotic and cough medicine are recommended.

In chronic bronchitis, it is very important to eliminate the factor that is irritating your respiratory system. Especially, it is very important to stop smoking or to avoid different types of lung irritants.