Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchi (large airways) in the lungs, occurring when an infection causes the thin mucous membrane linings of these airways to become irritated and inflamed. The result is the production of mucus in the lungs and a persistent cough that may last several days or weeks.
The Two Types of Bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis: This is not necessarily caused by infection and is most often part of more serious lung conditions. The most common chronic bronchitis symptoms are characterized by a persistent cough that produces phlegm for at least three months a year for two consecutive years.
Acute bronchitis is recognized as a cough and the production of phlegm which may be accompanied by symptoms such as shortness of breath and wheezing, as well as a mild fever in some cases. Acute bronchitis commonly occurs after an upper respiratory infection such as a cold, influenza, or a sinus infection. For this reason, you may also experience other symptoms such as muscle aches, nasal congestion, and a sore throat in addition to bronchitis symptoms.
Bronchitis generally clears up on its own after a few weeks, although sometimes the cough may be especially disruptive or complications may prompt you to seek medical attention. In addition, treatment differs for chronic bronchitis and acute bronchitis, so the correct diagnosis can offer the most relief by addressing any underlying infections. Generally if symptoms persist or you are worried about their severity, it’s a good idea to seek medical attention.