Acute and chronic bronchitis: causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment

Last Updated on March 14, 2023 by Dr. Saqib Mueed

Bronchitis is the inflammation of bronchi in the lungs that causes coughing. It may be caused by some infections or other factors such as smoking. This disease was first known in 1808 in Britain by Charles Badham.

Types of bronchitis 

Bronchitis maybe

  • Short term
  • Long term

Short term bronchitis (Acute)

Acute bronchitis is the most common disease. This type of bronchitis generally has coughing that preceding about four weeks. It is inflammation of the bronchi of lungs.

About 5 % of adults are affected in a year. It is a viral infection. Through coughing this virus spread in air.

The risk factor consists of contact to smoking and chemicals.

Symptoms of bronchitis

  • Low fever
  • Rattling feeling in the chest
  • Tired all time
  • Wheezing when you breath
  • Chills
  • Chest discomfort
  • Sore throat
  • Back and muscle aches
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Chest soreness
  • Heavy coughing

Emergency symptoms

  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • A deep, barking cough
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A temperature of 100.4 C
  • Longer cough that last ten to eleven days

Causes of acute bronchitis

Viral infection

This is a pathological infection. These viruses are transferred from air when infected people cough or by undeviating contact. Viruses cause 90% of acute bronchitis in grown people. Acute bronchitis caused by the same virus which is reason of pneumonia and flu.

Microbial infection

In some cases, microbial bronchitis caused by microbes. These are resistant to antibiotics.

Source of annoyance

A substance such as living in smoke, contamination, or chemical fumes are motive of inflammation in trachea.

They are reasons of acute bronchitis.

Risk factors

The factors which cause this disease are.

  • Cigarette smoke, also including us of some other’s used cigarette
  • Low resistance to illness
  • Weekend immune system
  • Contact to irritants which include powder and chemical hazes
  • Deficiency of vaccination for cold, pneumonia

Acute bronchitis in Youngsters

Children have more chance to get this disease than adults because of risk factors that affect them. These include.


  • Enlarged tonsils
  • Inhaled debris like dust
  • Exposure to viruses in a location like parks, school and playgrounds

Signs and management in Children

The indication of acute bronchitis in children is same as in adults. Therefore, treatment is same as those in adults. A lot of clear fluid is eaten by the youngster and acquire loss of bedstead rest. And contact with doctor in severe cases.

A younger child about 6 years should not be given OTC without the approval of doctor. Also evade from cough medication.

Diagnosis acute bronchitis

In many of cases this disease will recover without any treatment. For checking the symptoms of disease doctor listen the voice of lungs like wheezing.

It is tough to differentiate the symptoms and signs of bronchitis and cold during the first some days of illness. Doctor use stethoscope to listen the lungs carefully. Usually, no blood tests are necessary.

In some cases, doctors suggest following test

Medical history 

Doctor will observe, listen and then note the signs and also observe how much the disease severe then doctor do some tests for further treatment.

Chest X Ray

It will help to fix if having pneumonia or other disorder that may verify your cough.

Mucus tests 

Mucus is the liquid like that you coughed from respiratory track.

It is used to see that if you have sickness which should cooperative by medicines.

Mucus can be tested for signs of allergy.

Pneumonic test 

In this test, Spirometer is an instrument that is used for this purpose. Spirometer processes the inhalation and exhalation process of your lungs , means that how far air in lungs holds and how rapidly air goes out of lungs .

Oxygen saturation 

 Oxygen saturation tells about how much oxygen extended in blood cells.

By placing thumb on sensor, it is noted. This is stated to as rhythm oximetry.

Phlegm sample 

For the testing of virus and bacteria this test is conducted.

But this test is performed in some conditions, not for all.

Spirometry test 

This test is performed for lungs, which have severe bronchitis.

It is used for the confirmation of respiratory disease asthma.

The treatment used for acute bronchitis

Home Tips

Some steps should help to alleviate symptom.

  • Take OTC nonsteroidal drugs. These medicines relax the pain in the throat
  • Drink sufficiently of liquids such as tea and water to reedy out liquid.
  • Ginger should be added to tea or hot water for drinking or eating purpose. It can smooth the infected and cause inflamed soreness in bronchial tubes
  • Eat nectar to pacify wheezing . Nectar Honey has antibacterial and antiviral properties .


As bronchitis is caused by viral infection therefore in some cases antibiotics are not effective . However in case of bacterial infection , doctor prescribes an antibiotic.

In most of cases doctor recommended the medication which includes;

Cough medicine

If cough disturb your sleeping cycle, then take cough suppressant at sleeping time .

Further prescriptions

Doctor recommends an inhaler and other medication if you have aversion and lung infection.

It lessens irritation and open contracted path in lungs.


There are some other ways which are helpful in prevention of bronchitis.

  • Hand washing. It will lessen the impact of viruses and bacteria
  • It is necessary every year to get shoots of flu. It is effective
  • At the age of sixty years if get pneumonia shot then recommend to doctor
  • Avoid sharing utensils or glasses
  • Stop smoking and avoid second hand smoke.
  • Mouth, nose, or eyes don’t be touched if infected peoples present around you.
  • Make sure that you are getting enough sleep
  • Eat a moderate quantity of food. It will help to keep the body normal and also healthy. [1]Factsheet-Acute-Bronchitis-Aug2018.pdf ([2]Preventing and Treating Bronchitis ([3]Acute Bronchitis (

Long term bronchitis (Chronic) 

It defined as a prolific cough that’s last for four months or more per year for at least three or four years.

This disease happens collected by lower airflow this condition is called chronic obstructive disease (COPD). Many people with this type off disease have COPD but many persons with COPD don’t have the chronic bronchitis. The percentage of persons having COPD with chronic bronchitis are 7 to 40 %. 60% are people with COPD who smoke and have chronic bronchitis.

Chronic bronchitis cause respiratory disease, which cause over production of mucus and mucin. In response to long term irritation the goblet cells and submucosal glands produce mucus. Submucosa gland produce more mucus than goblet cells .

The mucin thicken the mucus and in chronic bronchitis its concentration is high. The more amount of mucus blocks the airways which result in a narrowing of tubes. This cause shorten the passage of air and which decline the function of respiratory system  with result in Long term bronchitis .

Due to more slippery liquid, it causes more chronic productive cough. The increased secretion caused by cough. The wheezing is poorer immediately after awaking, and the color of liquid produced is of dark greenish and yellow. It is mark by fragments of vital fluid.

At initial stages cough preserve mucus clearance. Mucus clearance is impaired with continued excessive secretion and when the passage of air become airless a wheezing become unproductive. 

Symptoms Long term bronchitis

Some symptoms of bronchitis include.

  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Wheezing
  • Cough that lasts days to three months. 
  • Sputum production (mucus) is most common symptoms. It is milky, yellow or olive in color.

Causes Long term bronchitis

In many cases this disease is triggered by tobacco smoking. COPD is developed in these people who do smoking and also have bronchitis. It is noted a link between smoker’s flesh-eaters and long-term bronchitis.

The causes of long-term bronchitis are.

Smoking is leading cause of bronchitis

Gasping infuriating hazes are reason of chronic bronchitis.

Bacteria such as Mycoplasma pneumonia 

Viruses such as influenza A and B 

This virus is transferred from air when infected person coughing or wheezing. Through coughing small drops of droplets came in air surrounding and these viruses can survive up to 23 hours. This virus which presents in surrounding land on some surface, anyone who touch these things get this virus and get infection.  The infected man who coughed spread the mucus. These droplets can spread about 4 feet.

In some cases, the individuals touch some other objects which are not cleaned and in some trace amount viruses are present on them. From touching, the man gets these viruses on hands and when bring hand near mouth or nose then viruses transfer.

Risk factor

  • Weekend immune system
  • Repeated exposure to lungs irritants
  • Smoking
  • Advanced age
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD )
  • Air pollution
  • Dirt from hazards contacts in occupation like
  • Coal withdrawal
  • Textile business
  • Livestock husbandry
  • Grain handling
  • Metal beading

Is a need of doctor?

In most of the case bronchitis is cured easily at home but if the conditions are severe or not usual then u have to call doctor.

  • If coughing is given more sound and severe which is longer than 4 weeks.
  • If sputum came in with blood on coughing
  • If you have continued fever for more than 4 days.
  • If you pain in chest such as ribs.
  • You are breathing more than to normal.
  • You become sleepy or in confusion
  • When you have continued spells of bronchitis


A number of medicines and therapy required to treat the chronic bronchitis. 

Oxygen therapy

It is also known as supplementary oxygen. It is used as treatment in hospitals.

The individuals suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), oxygen therapy is used. The bronchitis or emphysema which is caused by long term smoking. It requires more oxygen demand to respiratory tract. The need more oxygen demand at day or night.

Oxygen is recommended for people which are at final stage of cardiac or respiratory failure.

Oxygen is the most collective treatment which is given in hospitals in the developed countries.

 Pulmonary rehabilitation 

It is also known as the respiratory rehabilitation. It is important part of health maintenance and management of people which have chronic bronchitis, in this the patient has continue to decrease function instead of standard medical treatment.


As per direction of your doctor medicine should use.

Behavioral remedies 

  • There are some other things which can be helpful for treating bronchitis which includes don’t use the things which can damage the lungs and respiratory system like smoking. Smoking damage your lungs and cause cancer.
  • Keep exercise daily. It will be helpful to form and strong the chest muscles. It will be helpful in breathing.
  • Try to better the breathing strategies by pulmonary rehabilitation.


Following steps should be taken which are helpful for preventing form chronic bronchitis.

  • Stop active and passive smoke (reason of bronchitis. It contains carcinogens which can cause cancer and damage the respiratory system. Passive smoking is also a cause of bronchitis)
  • Avoid long contact to air contamination from heavy traffic.
  • Spread of infection can be prevented by washing hands
  • Don’t touch people who have cold or flu. [4]Chronic Bronchitis and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease ([5]Chronic Bronchitis – Physiopedia ([6]Chronic Bronchitis – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (

Reviewed by:

Dr. Akhtar Nawaz Lak

MBBS, FCPS (Internal Medicine)

Ex. Medical Specialist, Services hospital, Lahore

Ex. Medical Specialist, Allied hospital, Faisalabad

Our reviewers’ details, Click Here

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