Bronchitis: What you need to know

Bronchitis is a common infection causing inflammation and irritation to the main airways between the windpipe and the lungs (bronchial tubes). The lining of these tubes produces large amounts of mucus, triggering a lingering cough.



  • Acute bronchitis is a shorter illness that comes on rapidly usually after a cold or viral infection, such as influenza (the flu). It consists of a cough with mucus, chest discomfort or soreness, fever and sometimes shortness of breath. But if you are in good health, the mucus membrane should return to normal after recovery from the initial lung infection, which usually lasts for several days or weeks.

If you are a smoker and catches acute bronchitis, it will be much harder for you to recover. Every cigarette damages the tiny hair-like structures in your lungs, called cilia, which are responsible for brushing out debris, irritants, and excess mucus.

  • Chronic bronchitis is a serious, ongoing illness characterized by a persistent,  mucus-producing cough lasting for at least 3 months. It often requires regular medical treatment. The major cause of this by far is smoking. Exposure to some pollutants can also contribute to chronic bronchitis.

Typically, people with chronic bronchitis are smokers over 45 years old. Also, certain jobs such as coal mining, welding, asbestos work and grain handling also increase the risk of developing bronchitis.



Persistent coughing accompanied by mucus or phlegm is the most obvious symptom of either acute or chronic bronchitis. Lung congestion and wheezing are also common.

This is the full list of their symptoms:

  • Production of mucus
  • Wheezing
  • Low fever and chills
  • Chest tightening
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Breathlessness
  • Headaches
  • Blocked nose and sinuses

However, a cough that doesn’t go away could also be a sign of other illnesses like asthma or pneumonia.

It’s important to be aware that symptoms of bronchitis can suddenly get worse. If your medication no longer seems to be effective, see your doctor immediately.



There are several measures that can be taken to prevent the risk of catching bronchitis:

  • drink plenty of fluids, this helps thin out the mucus to make it easier to get rid of
  • use a cool or warm moist-air humidifier to thin the mucus blocking the air passages
  • exercise regularly
  • avoid smokingquit smoking if you already smoke
  • get a yearly flu and pneumonia vaccine
  • wash your hands frequently to limit your exposure to germs and bacteria
  • wear a surgical mask to avoid lung irritants (smoke, dust, fumes, vapors and air pollution)




Bronchitis. (2016). Retrieved December 13, 2016 from


Bronchitis: Chronic Bronchitis. (2016). Retrieved December 13, 2016 from

Diseases and Conditions: Bronchitis. (2014). Retrieved December 13, 2016 from

Mc Intosh, J. (2016). Bronchitis: Causes, symptoms and treatments. Retrieved December 13,

2016 from


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