Definition of Bronchitis

Inflammation of the mucus membrane of Bronchi is known as Bronchitis. Bronchitis has two categories i.e.

Acute Bronchitis:

The characteristics for acute bronchitis include the following conditions.

  • Cough

  • Sore throat and congestion either with or without production of Sputum.

Normally acute bronchitis is caused due to viral illnesses like Common Cold or Influenza. 90% of acute bronchitis cases are due to viruses whereas bacteria only account for 10%.

Chronic Bronchitis:

Chronic Bronchitis is a type of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). It is characterized by cough lasting for three months or more than two years. Cause for this include some injury to airways caused by inhaled irritants. Exposure to air pollutants like sulfur dioxide or nitrogen dioxide, exposure to irritants during occupations like mining and cigarette smoking are its common causes.

Cause of Bronchitis

Causes for Acute Bronchitis are as follows.

  • Acute bronchitis is most commonly caused by viruses. Some of these viruses include Rhinoviruses, Coronaviruses, Parainfluenza virus, Respiratory syncytial virus and influenza.

  • Bacteria less often cause acute bronchitis. Common examples of such bacteria are Mycoplasma Pneumoniae, Bordetella pertussis, and Haemophilus influenzae.

Causes for Chronic Bronchitis are as follows.

  • Cigarette smoking or other forms of tobacco

  • Inhaling of chronic air pollutants, dust or fumes

  • Hazardous occupational exposures

Signs and Symptoms of Bronchitis

Symptoms of Acute Bronchitis are as follows.

  • Most common symptom is coughing with an attempt to expel excess mucus from lungs.

  • Sore throat

  • Breathing problem

  • Fatigue

  • Runny nose

  • Coryza

  • Low grade fever

  • Production of Sputum


Symptoms for Chronic Bronchitis are as follows.

  • Shortness of breath upon low oxygen saturation

  • Cough normally worsen soon after waking up

  • Production of Sputum of yellow or green color with blood specks

  • Fever

  • Fatigue

Risk Factors for Bronchitis

There are some factors that increase the risk for an individual to develop bronchitis. These risk factors are as follows.

  • Cigarette smoke: People who either smoke or live in the company of smokers are both prone to be at risk for developing Acute or Chronic bronchitis.

  • Low immunity: People who have poor immune system may be at risk of bronchitis if they suffer from other acute illness like cold or from chronic condition. Older people, babies and young Childs are more at risk for developing bronchitis.

  • Exposure: If a person works in an environment with lung irritants like grains, textiles or chemical fumes then they are at risk for developing bronchitis.

  • Gastric reflux: Severe heartburn causes throat irritation thus put the person at risk of bronchitis.

Diagnosis of Bronchitis

The first step performed by doctor is physical examination by listening to patients lungs closely by the use of a stethoscope. It is hard to differentiate bronchitis from common cold during first few days of illness. Other diagnostic approaches pursued by doctor are as follows.

Chest X-ray:

Chest x-ray helps in determining whether the cough is due to pneumonia, bronchitis or other condition.

Sputum test:

Mucus coughed up from lungs is called sputum. It is tested to see if patient have whooping cough or any other disease. It is tested to check signs of allergies.

Pulmonary function test:

This test includes blowing into a device called Spiro meter. This device tells that how much air the patient’s lungs can hold or how quickly they can let the air out. This test is performed to check for signs of Asthma or Emphysema.

Prevention from Bronchitis

To avoid risk for Bronchitis following are some prevention measures.

  • Avoid cigarette smoking

  • Get vaccinated as most cases of bronchitis are due to result from influenza, a virus.

  • Use hand sanitizers and always wash your hands to minimize risk for viral infection.

Treatment of Bronchitis


  • Antibiotics: If the cause for bronchitis is bacterial instead of viral then antibiotics are helpful.

  • Cough medicine: Do not suppress cough as it brings out the mucus and remove irritants from lungs and air passage.  To avoid coughing while sleeping try cough medicines.

  • Others: if suffering from ASTHMA OR COPD use inhaler and medications to reduce inflammation.


In case of chronic bronchitis a therapy called Pulmonary Rehabilitation is useful. It is breathing exercise that helps in breathing more easily and increases one’s ability to exercise.