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Symptoms and treatment of bronchitis

by Guaifenesin.org
5 mins read

People with bronchitis have swelling and inflammation in their bronchial tubes, the air passages that link the mouth and nose with the lungs.

Symptoms of bronchitis include a cough, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. People may also have trouble clearing heavy mucus or phlegm from their airways.

Bronchitis can be acute or chronic. Acute bronchitis usually clears up, but chronic bronchitis is persistent and never completely goes away. Quitting or avoiding smoking can help prevent bronchitis.

This article looks at the causes, symptoms, treatments, and prevention of bronchitis.


Bronchitis can be acute or chronic. If it is acute, it happens once, and then a person recovers. If it is chronic, it never goes away, and a person lives with it constantly, although it may get better and worse at times.

Signs and symptoms of both acute and chronic bronchitis include:

  • a persistent cough, which may produce mucus
  • wheezing
  • a low fever and chills
  • a feeling of tightness in the chest
  • a sore throat
  • body aches
  • breathlessness
  • headaches
  • a blocked nose and sinuses

A person with bronchitis may have a cough that lasts for several weeks or even a few months if the bronchial tubes take a long time to heal fully.

The symptoms of chronic bronchitis can flare up regularly. For many people, this happens during the winter months.

However, bronchitis is not the only condition that causes a cough. A cough that refuses to go away may be a sign of asthma, pneumonia, or many other conditions. Anyone with a persistent cough should see a doctor for a diagnosis.

Acute Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis lasts for a specific length of time. It commonly follows a similar pattern to a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu, and it may stem from the same virus.

The person may have:

  • a cough with or without mucus
  • chest discomfort or soreness
  • fever
  • a mild headache and body aches
  • shortness of breath

Symptoms usually go away after a few days or weeks.

Chronic bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis has similar symptoms to acute bronchitis, but it is an ongoing illness.

One definition states that a person has chronic bronchitis if they have a daily, productive cough for at least 3 months of the year, 2 or more years in a row.

The National Library of Medicine describe it as a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in which the bronchial tubes produce a lot of mucus. It either does not go away, or it goes away and keeps coming back.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that a person who develops emphysema alongside chronic bronchitis will receive a diagnosis of COPD. This is a serious and potentially life threatening condition.


If bronchitis is due to a viral or bacterial infection, it is possible to transmit the infection to another person through droplets when coughing.

To reduce the risk of passing on an infection, a person should:

  • wash their hands often
  • cough into a tissue
  • take extra care around young children, older people, and those with a weakened immune system


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Guaifenesin is an FDA approved over-the-counter expectorant, usually taken orally to assist the expectoration of phlegm and mucus. Especially effective to help clear excess mucus and phlegm from the airways in acute respiratory tract infections.

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