Bronchitis: causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment (2023)

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Bronchitis: causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment (1)

What is bronchitis?

Bronchitis is inflammation of the airways leading to the lungs.

When your airways (windpipe and bronchial tubes) become irritated, they swell and fill with mucus, causing you to cough. Your cough can last from days to a few weeks. It is the main symptom of bronchitis.

Viruses are the most common cause of acute bronchitis. Smoke and other irritants can cause both acute and chronic bronchitis.

What types of bronchitis are there?

When people talk about bronchitis, they are usually referring to acute bronchitis, a temporary condition that makes you cough. Some people get bronchitis so often that it's called chronic bronchitis.

acute bronchitis

Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a viral infection and goes away on its own after a few weeks. Most people do not need treatment for acute bronchitis.

Chronic bronchitis

You have chronic bronchitis if you cough up phlegm most days of the month for three months of the year. This takes at least two years.

If you have chronic bronchitis, you may havechronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).Ask your doctor about getting tested for COPD.

Who affects bronchitis?

Anyone can get bronchitis, but you are at greater risk if:

  • Smoking or being around someone who smokes.
  • TerAsma, COPD or other respiratory diseases.
  • TerGerd(chronic acid reflux).
  • Have aautoimmune diseaseor another disease that causes inflammation.
  • Are there air pollutants (such as smoke or chemicals) nearby?

How does bronchitis affect my body?

If your airways are irritated, yourImune systemcauses them to swell and fill with mucus. You cough to try to clear the phlegm. As long as there is mucus or inflammation in the airways, you will continue to cough.

(Video) Chronic bronchitis (COPD) - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment & pathology

symptoms and causes

What are the symptoms of bronchitis?

A persistent cough that lasts from one to three weeks is the main symptom of bronchitis. When you cough with bronchitis, you usually produce phlegm, but you may have a dry cough. You may also hear a wheeze or rattle when you breathe (panting).

You may have other symptoms, including:

  • shortness of breath (dyspnea).
  • Fever.
  • Runny nose.
  • tiredness (tiredness).

What causes bronchitis?

Bronchitis is almost always caused by a virus. However, almost anything that irritates your airways can cause it.Transmissibleand noninfectious causes of bronchitis include:

  • virus. Viruses that cause bronchitis includeInfluenza (flu), Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV),adenovirus,Rhinovirus (common cold)eCoronavirus.
  • bacteria. Bacteria that cause bronchitis includeBordetella pertussis,Mycoplasma-PneumoniaeChlamydia-Pneumonia.
  • Pollution.
  • Smoking cigarettes or marijuana (cannabis).

How do you get bronchitis?

You get bronchitis when your airways swell and fill with mucus. You can catch the viruses and bacteria that cause bronchitis by close contact (shaking hands, hugging, touching the same surfaces) with someone who has them. You don't have to have bronchitis to pass a virus to someone who has bronchitis.

Other irritants, such as tobacco or pollutants, are found in the air we breathe.

Is bronchitis contagious?

Bronchitis itself - an inflammation of the airways - is not contagious, but the viruses and bacteria it can cause are. For example, if you have the flu, you can also get bronchitis. But when your friend gets the flu from you, his airways don't get inflamed like yours.

Is bronchitis a side effect of COVID-19?

You can get bronchitis from almost any virus, including SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The symptoms of bronchitis can resemble those of COVID-19, so get tested to find out which ones you have. There are no studies showing that COVID-19 is more likely to cause bronchitis than other viral illnesses.

diagnosis and test

How is bronchitis diagnosed?

Your doctor can determine if you have bronchitis (clinical diagnosis) based on your medical history and your symptoms. They'll listen to your lungs for signs of congestion and check that you're breathing well. They can test you for viral infections like the flu or COVID-19.

(Video) Pneumonia - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

What tests are done to diagnose this condition?

There are no specific tests to diagnose bronchitis, but you may be tested for other conditions. Possible tests are:

  • nasal swab.Your doctor may use a soft swab (swab) in your nose to test for viruses such as COVID-19 or the flu.
  • chest X-ray.If your cough is persistent, you may want to have a chest X-ray to rule out more serious conditions. Your doctor will use a machine to take pictures of your heart and lungs. They will look for signs of other illnesses that could be causing your symptoms.
  • bloodtests.Your doctor may do blood tests with a needle in your arm to check for infections or check your general health.
  • Sputum test.Your provider might make you cough and then spit into a tube. Your sample will be tested for signs of viruses or bacteria.
  • lung function tests.If your doctor thinks you have chronic bronchitis, he or she may use a machine to test how well your lungs are working.

management and treatment

How is bronchitis treated?

Acute bronchitis is usually not treated with medication. If you have the flu and your symptoms started within the last two days, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medication to help it go away faster.

Since bronchitis is almost never caused by bacteria, antibiotics won't help you get better and may even make you feel worse.

What drugs are used to treat bronchitis?

Your doctor is unlikely to prescribe medication to treat your bronchitis. In some cases, you may be able to use medication to help with your symptoms or treat the underlying cause, including:

  • Antiviral drugs.If your bronchitis is caused by the flu, your doctor may prescribe aantiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu®, Relenza® and Rapivab®. If you start taking antiviral medications soon after symptoms start, you may feel better sooner.
  • bronchodilator. Your doctor may prescribe a bronchodilator (a drug that helps open up your airways) if you have trouble breathing.
  • anti-inflammatory drugs.Your doctor can prescribe itcorticosteroidsand other medications to reduce inflammation.
  • cough medicine.Over-the-counter or prescription cough suppressants (cough suppressants) can help with a bothersome cough. This containsDextrometorfano(Robitussin®, DayQuil™, PediaCare®) egood work(Tessalon Perles®, Zonatuss™).
  • Antibiotics.It is very unlikely that you will be treated with thisantibioticsif you have bronchitis, unless your doctor thinks you have a bacterial infection.
  • Treatment of COPD/Asthma.If you have COPD or asthma, your doctor may use additional medications or breathing treatments for chronic bronchitis.

Should I take antibiotics for bronchitis?

No, taking antibiotics will not help you to overcome bronchitis in most cases. Antibiotics are used to destroy the bacteria that are making you sick. Bronchitis is 95% caused by viruses. Antibiotics won't help you get rid of a virus.

How to deal with the symptoms of bronchitis?

You can treat bronchitis symptoms at home with over-the-counter remedies and rest. Using a humidifier or taking a warm shower can help loosen mucus and make breathing easier.

You can useIbuprofen(Advil®, Motrin®) orParacetamol(Tylenol®) to help with pain associated with viral infection.

How long is acute bronchitis contagious?

Bronchitis itself is not contagious, but some of its causes are. If your bronchitis is caused by a virus, you may be contagious for a few days to a week. If your bronchitis is caused by bacteria, you will usually stop being contagious within 24 hours of starting antibiotic treatment.

Other causes of bronchitis are not contagious.

(Video) Asthma - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology


How can I reduce the risk of bronchitis?

The best way to reduce your risk of bronchitis is to avoid contracting viruses and other causes of lung irritation. Specific ways to reduce your risk include:

  • Try to avoid being around other people when you or they are sick. This is especially true during the winter months when people congregate indoors.
  • Avoid smoke and other irritants.
  • If you have asthma orallergies, avoid all triggers (includingPets,Stauband pollen).
  • Run a humidifier. Humid air is less irritating to the lungs.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. If you cannot use soap and water, use a hand sanitizer that contains alcohol.
  • Make sure your flu and pneumonia shots are up to date.

Outlook / Forecast

What is the outlook for bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis is usually not serious. While frustrating, you will have to wait a few weeks for symptoms to develop. If you have heart disease or another respiratory condition, such as asthma, your symptoms may get worse or last longer.

Chronic bronchitis can be a serious condition and can mean lung damage. Although the damage cannot be reversed, your doctor can help you manage your symptoms and have fewer flare-ups.

complications of bronchitis

If you have an ongoing condition such as asthmaDiabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or heart failure, bronchitis can make it worse (exacerbation). Tell your doctor if you have any ongoing medical conditions.

Can bronchitis go away on its own?

Yes, acute bronchitis usually goes away on its own. It's almost always caused by a virus, and you can't get rid of most viruses with medication. You can treat the symptoms at home while you wait for the inflammation to subside.

Bronchitis caused by something else may need treatment to go away. Chronic bronchitis usually doesn't go away completely, but it can get better with treatment.

How long does it take to get over bronchitis?

Most people get over bronchitis in about two weeks, but it can take anywhere from three to six weeks. You can treat your symptoms at home with over-the-counter medications while you get better. If you don't feel better after three weeks, contact your doctor.

live with

How do I take care of myself?

If you have chronic bronchitis, you may be able to reduce the frequency of your symptoms by treating underlying conditions like COPD. You and your doctor can work together to create a plan to address your specific concerns.

When should I see my doctor for bronchitis?

It's hard to know if you have bronchitis or something more serious. Contact your doctor if you have:

  • A cough that lasts for more than three weeks.
  • A fever greater than 102°F.
  • Fever lasting more than five days.
  • A cough that producesblood.
  • shortness of breath or wheezing.

What questions should I ask my doctor?

  • What's the best way to treat my symptoms at home?
  • How long should I wait for bronchitis?
  • What new or worsening symptoms should I look for?
  • When should I see you again if the symptoms don't improve?
(Video) What is Bronchitis? Causes, Signs and symptoms, Diagnosis and treatment.

common questions

What is the difference between bronchitis and pneumonia?

Bronchitis is inflammation of the airways leading to the lungs.pulmonary infectionit is an inflammation of the lungs themselves.

Bronchitis causes inflammation and mucus in the windpipe and bronchial tubes that make you cough profusely. Pneumonia causes inflammation and fluid in the small air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. They also often have a cough and fever. Pneumonia is more serious than bronchitis.

Although you can have an infection that causes either, bronchitis usually doesn't turn into pneumonia.

What is the difference between bronchitis and bronchiolitis?

Bronchitis is inflammation in the larger airways (trachea and bronchi) that lead to the lungs.bronchiolitisit is an inflammation of the next smaller airways (bronchioles) that branch off the bronchi. Children usually have bronchiolitis, while adults have bronchitis.

Is Menthol Vapor Rub Good for Bronchitis?

You can use vaporizers like Vicks VapoRub® or Mentholatum® ointment on anything that is bothering you and wondering if they work for bronchitis. Steam rubs contain ingredients designed to soothe a cough, so they can help with bronchitis symptoms. Do not use steam massage on children under two years of age without first consulting their pediatrician.

A note from the Cleveland Clinic

Having bronchitis can be frustrating at best. Even when you are free of runny nose and body aches, the cough seems to go on forever. Over-the-counter medications and even home remedies like honey can help you get through this until you feel better. If you're having trouble controlling your symptoms, talk to your doctor.

(Video) Acute Bronchitis - Causes, Symptoms, Treatments & More…

If you have frequent bronchitis, you may have chronic bronchitis caused by an underlying condition that needs treatment.


1. Acute Bronchitis - Overview, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
2. BRONCHITIS: Everything You Need To Know! Types. Symptoms. Cause. Risk Factors. Diagnosis. Treatment.
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3. Acute bronchitis: Everything You Need To Know
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4. Bronchitis: Consequences, Symptoms & Treatment – Respiratory Medicine | Lecturio
(Lecturio Medical)
5. Acute Bronchitis : causes,clinical features,diagnosis and treatment
6. Chronic Bronchitis - Causes, Symptoms, Treatments & More…


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