Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from your lungs. When a person has bronchitis, it may be harder for air to pass in and out of the lungs.
People who have bronchitis often cough up thickened mucus, which can be discolored. Bronchitis may be either acute or chronic.
Often developing from a cold or other respiratory infection, acute bronchitis is very common. Chronic bronchitis, a more serious condition, is a constant irritation or inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes.
Acute bronchitis may be responsible for the hacking cough and phlegm production that sometime accompany an upper respiratory infection. In most cases, the infection is viral in origin, but sometimes it’s caused by bacteria.
What Causes Bronchitis?
Acute bronchitis is generally caused by lung infections, 90% of which are viral in origin. Repeated attacks of acute bronchitis, which weaken and irritate bronchial airways over time, can result in chronic bronchitis.
- Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, can be mild to severe and is longer lasting from several months to years. With chronic bronchitis, the bronchial tubes continue to be inflamed (red and swollen), irritated, and produce excessive mucus over time
Acute bronchitis is usually caused by viruses, typically the same viruses that cause colds and flu (influenza). Antibiotics don’t kill viruses, so this type of medication isn’t useful in most cases of bronchitis.
- Production of mucus (sputum), which can be clear, white, yellowish-gray or green in color rarely, it may be streaked with blood
- Shortness of breath
- Slight fever and chills
- Chest discomfort
If you have chronic bronchitis, you’re likely to have periods when your signs and symptoms worsen. At those times, you may have acute bronchitis on top of your chronic bronchitis.