Overview of Bronchitis

Bronchitis or برونکائٹس is a condition in which the lining of tubes that carry air to and fro from your lungs get inflamed or irritated. These tubes are called bronchial tubes. The bronchial tubes can get irritated due to an infection. 

Naturally, to trap dust particles or irritants, the walls of the main airways make mucus. But in the case of bronchitis, the production of mucus is increased. The body then tends to balance out the levels of mucus through coughing and wheezing. 

Signs and Symptoms of Bronchitis

The initial symptoms of acute or chronic bronchitis are similar. Some of the common sign and symptoms of bronchitis are:

  • Cough 
  • Fatigue 
  • Difficulty in beating 
  • Chest discomfort 
  • Mild fever and chills 
  • Production of sputum - this mucus can be clear, white, yellowish-grey, or green. 
  • Runny nose 
  • Sore throat 
  • Sneezing 
  • Wheezing 
  • Muscle pain
  • Backache

Initially, you will be having a dry cough but after time, you will develop mucus. This is the most common sign of acute bronchitis. This can last from 10 days to three weeks. Change in mucus color is also observed. That is just a way of our immune system fighting the infection. 

Some emergency risk factors that require immediate and effective action are: 

  • Having a cough that lasts for longer than 3 weeks 
  • Having a high fever for more than 3 days 
  • Coughing up blood-streaked mucus 
  • Already having some underlying heart or lung condition 
  • Increased difficulty in breathing 
  • Having repeated episodes of bronchitis 

Types of Bronchitis

Bronchitis is divided into two types namely: Acute Bronchitis and Chronic Bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis falls under the category of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

1- Acute Bronchitis 

This type of bronchitis is also known as a chest cold and lasts for less than 3 weeks. This is a relatively more common type of bronchitis and can affect people of all age groups, especially in children under 5 years.  

Usually, you may get acute bronchitis in the winter season with the symptoms of flu, common cold, and sore throat

2- Chronic Bronchitis 

It is the most common lung disease and is a direct product of smoking. It can last for several weeks (around 2 months) and can also make a comeback. This condition is relatively common among individuals aged 40 and above and people who already have asthma or emphysema

It is important to quit smoking if you believe you are developing even the slightest signs of bronchitis. 

Causes of Bronchitis

Bronchitis is usually caused by viruses that cause colds and influenza. Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of bronchitis followed by exposure to air pollutants and lung irritants. 


Risk Factors of Bronchitis

Possible Risk factors for bronchitis can include: 

  • Viral/ Bacterial Infection - bronchitis is a viral infection and in very rare cases is caused by some bacteria. 

  • Low immunity - having a weaker immune system can make you more vulnerable to catch diseases like the common cold, chest infections, and acute bronchitis. 

  • Exposure to lung irritants - working in an environment enriched with chemical fumes, dust particles, or air pollution can cause long-term damage to your lungs which can cause acute or chronic bronchitis. 

  • Gastric reflux - issues like repeated heartburns can cause damage to your throat which can lead to bronchitis 

Usually, a single attack of bronchitis is not to be much worried about however repeated attacks of bronchitis can be a sign of chronic bronchitis and require immediate attention. Untreated bronchitis in some people can lead to pneumonia. 



You can prevent bronchitis by following tips:

  • Cover your cough
  • Regularly wear a face mask 
  • Cover your nose and mouth at all times 
  • Get a regular flu shot annually if you can 
  • Quit smoking or eventually cut down on smoking if you are a chain smoker


Usually, doctors perform a physical examination to confirm the presence of bronchitis in their bodies. Some tests that can help them in diagnosis are: 

  • A lung Infection Test - this test is carried through a spirometer. You would be asked to breathe into this device so that the performance of your lungs can be evaluated. 
  • Oxygen Levels in the Blood - this is done with the help of a sensor placed on your finger or toe.
  • X-ray - your doctor may also ask you to undergo a chest x-ray to better analyze the lungs’ condition. 
  • Blood Tests - your doctor may also ask you to undergo some other necessary blood tests depending upon your condition. To rule out conditions like “Whooping Cough”, your mucus can also be tested. 

Treatment of Bronchitis | When to Consult a Doctor

If you have acute bronchitis, it will get better on its own. Antibiotics in this case will not help you feel better. Drinking plenty of water, taking steam, and plenty of rest are the only things that can help you in case of acute bronchitis. 

For chronic bronchitis, your doctor will recommend treatment depending upon your condition.

 Some possible options for the treatment of chronic bronchitis are: 

  • Medications - medications like antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and bronchodilators to help heal your airways 
  • To help you cough fluid more easily, usage of a mucus cleaning device 
  • Oxygen therapy 
  • Some breathing exercises for the lungs 
  • Pulmonary therapy session 

In case of any concerning signs and symptoms, consult a certified pulmonologist as soon as possible.