Thursday, March 05, 2015

Acute bronchitis

Table of Contents


Acute bronchitis is inflammation of the main airways to the lungs called the bronchi. It is usually caused by an infection. Symptoms of acute bronchitis may last several weeks. 

See also chronic bronchitis.

Alternative Names

Bronchitis - acute

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Acute bronchitis is one of the most common medical conditions seen in a doctor's office. It is primarily caused by a virus that infects the respiratory system. There are a number of different respiratory viruses that can do this, including the rhinovirus, which causes the common cold. 

The classic symptoms of bronchitis may mimic a cold. A tickle in the back of the throat progresses into a dry, irritating cough. But as the infection gets worse, a person may cough up thick, yellow mucus that may (rarely) be streaked with blood.

Sometimes the symptoms of bronchitis do not appear until the underlying viral infection has gone away, and a secondary bacteria infection causes the coughing symptoms of bronchitis.

Whooping cough and sinusitis may cause symptoms similar to bronchitis. It is important to see your health care provider to get a correct diagnosis.

You have a higher risk for getting bronchitis if you've had a recent illness or viral respiratory infection (which reduce your ability to fight off infections), or if you have chronic lung problems such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. You are also at higher risk for bronchitis if you smoke.

Review Date: 07/05/2005
Reviewed By: John Goldenring, M.D., MPH, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital, San Diego, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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