Acute and Chronic Bronchitis

Acute and Chronic Bronchitis

Bronchitis is swelling of the lining of the large airways called bronchi in the lungs. The swelling causes more mucus than normal to be made. This can block the airflow through the lungs and may damage the lungs.

Acute and Chronic Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis lasts 2 to 4 weeks and can be treated. Chronic bronchitis is a long-term disease of the lungs. It is one disease in a group of lung diseases called COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The damage often gets worse over time and cannot be cured.

Pathophysiology and Etiology of Acute bronchitis

Acute bronchitis was originally described in the 1800s as inflammation of the bronchial mucous membranes. Over the years, this inflammation has been shown to be the result of a sometimes complex and varied chain of events. An infectious or noninfectious trigger leads to bronchial epithelial injury, which causes an inflammatory response with airway hyper responsiveness and mucus production.

Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a viral infection. In patients younger than one year, respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza virus

, and coronavirus are the most common isolates. In patients one to 10 years of age, parainfluenza virus, enterovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, and rhinovirus predominate. In patients older than 10 years, influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, and adenovirus are most frequent. Parainfluenza virus, enterovirus, and rhinovirus infections most commonly occur in the fall. Influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, and coronavirus infections are most frequent in the winter and spring

Other causes of bronchitis

• Bacterial infection

• Smoking

• Air pollution

• Allergy to something in the air such as pollen

• Lung disease such as asthma or emphysema

Signs of Bronchitis

• A frequent cough

• Feeling tired

• Chest pain with coughing or deep breathing

• Noisy breathing

• Shortness of breath

• Body aches

• Fever or chills

• Sore throat

• Runny or stuffy nose


Self-management may include medicines and breathing exercises to help you breathe easier. You may need oxygen if you have chronic bronchitis. Self-management may also include:

• Avoiding colds and the flu.

• Drinking a lot of liquids to keep mucus thin.

• Using a humidifier or vaporizer.

• Using postural drainage and percussion to loosen mucus from your lungs. You will be taught how to do this.

• Get plenty of rest

• Use lozenges (do not give lozenges to children younger than 4 years of age)

To Breathe Easier

• Quit smoking. The only way to slow the damage of chronic bronchitis is to quit smoking. It is never too late to quit.

• Do not drink alcohol. It dulls the urge to cough and sneeze to clear your air passages. It also causes your body to lose fluid, making the mucus in your lungs thicker and harder to cough up.

• Avoid things that irritate your lungs such as air pollution, dusts and gases.

• Sleep with your upper body raised. Use foam wedges or raise the head of your bed.


◆ Practice good hand hygiene

◆ Make sure you and your child are to up-to-date with all recommended vaccines

◆ Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke, chemicals, dust, or air pollution


◆ Always cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing

◆ Keep your distance from others when you are sick, if possible

Recommended Treatment

Good news! Acute bronchitis almost always gets better on its own—without antibiotics. Using antibiotics when they aren’t needed can do more harm than good. Unintended consequences of antibiotics include side effects, like rash and diarrhea, as well as more serious consequences, such as an increased risk for an antibiotic-resistant infection or Clostridium difficile infection, a sometimes deadly diarrhea.



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