Everything You Need To Know About Bronchitis

Overview | Types | Contagious |How it spreads? | Causes | Symptoms | Risks Factors | Complications | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention |

What is bronchitis?

We all have bronchial tubes which deliver air from our trachea (windpipe) into our lungs. If inflammation occurs to the linings of these bronchial tubes due to virus, bacteria, or irritant particles then, it forms thick discolored mucus, cough, etc. This condition is called bronchitis.

Fact: Bronchitis is a very common health condition with more than 10 million cases per year, in India.

Types of bronchitis:

Bronchitis can be classified into two types — acute and chronic.

  1. Acute bronchitis – It is quite common and develops due to viral cold or respiratory infections. Coughing for five or more days can be a sign of acute bronchitis. It also refers to a chest cold. It gets cured automatically within 10 – 21 days, without any lasting symptoms or effects But, cough can take slightly more time than other symptoms to go off. Some other symptoms of acute bronchitis are —
  • Cough with/without mucus
  • Chest discomfort
  • Fever
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Mild headache
  • Mild body ache
  1. Chronic bronchitis – Chronic bronchitis is a more severe condition than acute. In this, a person experiences constant irritation or inflammation of the tubes of bronchitis. One of the most common causes of this is smoking. It is one of the conditions in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Chronic bronchitis requires medical attention to get cured. You may also have repeated bouts of bronchitis if you are having chronic bronchitis. In chronic bronchitis, one can suffer coughing with sputum production daily, for at least 3 months of the year, 2 years in a row.

Is bronchitis contagious?

Acute bronchitis can be contagious. But if its causes are pollutants, smoke, tobacco, chemical exposure, etc. then it will consider as not contagious.

Whereas chronic bronchitis is not contagious at all, but the more severe one.

How does bronchitis spread?

The spreading process of bronchitis infection is quite similar to viral or flu infection. If one has a bronchitis infection, coughs, or sneezes, his/her saliva’s droplets get mixed into the air, containing the virus also. Now, if you are close to that infected person, you may inhale the virus-containing droplets and this action can make you infected too.

Or in the second case, the virus can be present on the surface of articles, and if you touch those articles, then you may get infected when those viruses get into your body through the mouth, nose, or eyes.

The best way to prevent all these complications is to wash your hands several times a day with soap and water or sanitizer.

Causes of bronchitis:

Causes of acute bronchitis —

  • Viruses, such as cold or flu virus, etc.
  • Bacterial infections
  • Use or exposure to such substances can cause irritation or inflammation of the lungs, such as tobacco, dust, smoke, polluted air, vapors, fumes, etc.

Causes of chronic bronchitis —

  • Repeated damage and irritation to the lungs and airway tissues.
  • Prolonged exposure to natural irritants, such as polluted air, dust, fumes, etc.
  • Repeated episodes of acute bronchitis
  • Genetic factors
  • History of respiratory disease
  • Having a history of Gastroesophageal disease (GERD).
  • Exposure to pesticide

Symptoms of bronchitis:

Common symptoms are —

  • Mucus producing cough
  • Lack of energy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever (possible)
  • Chills
  • Wheezing sound while breathing (possible)

Acute bronchitis symptoms —

  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Wheezing sound
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Back pain
  • Feeling cold
  • Muscle pain
  • Fever of 37.7 °C – 38 °C

Emergency symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • 38 °C or higher fever
  • Deep and severe coughing
  • Prolonged coughing issue

Risks factors of bronchitis:

  • Active and passive smoking
  • Gastric reflux
  • Weak immune system
  • Frequent exposure to irritants, such as smoke, dust, etc.
  • Lack of vaccination of common diseases.
  • +50 age

Complications of bronchitis:

The single episode may not be the case you should worry about. But, it can cause pneumonia, so precautions should be taken to avoid such conditions.

If you are experiencing frequent bouts of bronchitis, then this may indicate chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). Some other complications of bronchitis are as follows —

  • Respiratory infection
  • Viral infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Asthma
  • Sinusitis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Pneumonia
  • Whooping cough (Pertussis)
  • Infectious lung diseases
  • COPD

Diagnosis of bronchitis:

In most cases, acute bronchitis will go away without any medical treatment. But still, to get a diagnosis when you approach your doctor; your doctor will start your diagnosis with a physical examination. In physical examination, your doctor will analyze your lungs while breathing, can ask you about the symptoms you are experiencing, such as wheezing, cough, etc., especially about mucus, whether you are having mucous or not, while coughing.

After physical examination, to check whether you have pneumonia or not, your doctor may suggest you an X-ray test.

These tests are enough to get a complete diagnose of bronchitis. But if you have some other symptoms, then your doctor may order blood tests to examine that whether you have any other kind of infection or not.


To treat acute bronchitis, one may not really need any kind of medical treatment. Only required bed rest and a healthy diet, along with precautions to cure cough is more than enough.

Whereas if you are looking for a treatment for chronic bronchitis, then you may get dishearten to know that it is not curable. Although there are some ways to give your relief from the symptoms of chronic bronchitis, such as pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, drugs, etc.


  • Mucolytic
  • Robitussin
  • Delsym
  • Acetaminophen
  • Inhaler bronchodilators
  • NSAIDs
  • Antibiotics

Prevention tips:

  • Stay hydrated always, drink at least 2 liters of water daily.
  • Get enough sleep
  • To moisten the air around, use a humidifier.
  • While in the crowd, avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes
  • Say no to dairy products, as dairy products can help in the secretion of mucus
  • Avoid sharing your articles
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Avoid alcohol consumption
  • Say no to smoking and tobacco
  • Don’t forget to wash your hands several times a day
  • Avoid interaction with air pollutants, dust, etc.
  • Avoid second hand or passive smoking
  • To get relief from cough, over–the–counter cough suppressants can be used.
  • Have a healthy and plant-based diet to keep your immunity strong
  • Getting a yearly flu vaccine can help you to be protected against all the odds.
  • Don’t forget to wear a mask
  • Exercise daily

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