Bronchitis Types Acute

Acute bronchitis is an infection of the bronchial tubes that is almost always caused by a virus. The virus causes the bronchial tubes to become infected and swell up, making it very difficult to breathe. Thick mucus is often formed, which must be coughed up.

Acute bronchitis is divided into two categories:

  • acute infectious bronchitis
  • acute irritative bronchitis.

Acute infectious bronchitis is caused by a virus, and lasts for about a week before resolving. Acute irritative bronchitis is caused by allergies or other environmental irritants.

Acute bronchitis is different from chronic bronchitis, which is a serious, long-term form of bronchitis that is usually caused by smoking.

Acute Bronchitis Symptoms

Acute bronchitis is more common in the winter months. The symptoms of acute bronchitis include:

  • dry, persistent cough
  • low-grade fever
  • general feeling of malaise
  • mucus production (mucus usually starts out thin and clear and progresses to thick and yellowish green)
  • wheezing and difficulty breathing.

If you suspect that you have bronchitis, you should visit your doctor. Severe acute bronchitis that is not treated can turn into pneumonia and even chronic bronchitis, which is an ongoing respiratory disease.

Acute Bronchitis Causes

Acute bronchitis is the result of a virus that has attacked your body. The virus is generally airborne, and you get acute bronchitis by breathing in the virus. You can also get this type of bronchitis by touching someone else’s hand that has the virus on it, or other objects that have the virus on it.

Risk factors for acute bronchitis include smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke, or being around hazardous fumes or pollution. People with allergies, chronic sinus problems and related respiratory issues are also at a higher risk for acute bronchitis. This is because people with these risk factors already have damage to their lungs, so it makes them much more susceptible to getting acute bronchitis.

Acute bronchitis can also be more serious for people with other chronic diseases, such as lung disease or heart disease. In people with these issues, acute bronchitis can become more severe and develop into pneumonia.

Diagnosing Acute Bronchitis

Your doctor will be able to diagnose acute bronchitis. He will talk to you about your health history and symptoms, listen to your lungs, and may even do a chest X-ray if your acute bronchitis seems severe.

Acute Bronchitis Treatment

The good news is that acute bronchitis will usually go away on its own after a period of time. Most people do not get help from antibiotics, because acute bronchitis is a viral disease. If you are diagnosed with acute bronchitis, the best treatment options include:

  • getting plenty of rest
  • increasing fluid intake
  • taking over-the-counter cough suppressants and/or expectorants
  • taking steamy showers to thin mucus and open airways.

Acute bronchitis usually only lasts a week to 10 days, but the cough can last up to several months. This usually means that it is taking a longer time for your lungs to repair themselves. However, if your cough continues or gets worse, it is always a good idea to seek medical treatment.

Prevention

The best way to prevent getting acute bronchitis is to wash your hands frequently and practice good hygiene. It is best to avoid contact with people who are sick and coughing, if possible. It can also be helpful to get a flu shot.

Resources

Familydoctor.org (2007). Acute Bronchitis. Retrieved July 31, 2007, from the Familydoctor.org Web site: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/infections/common/mulitsource/677.html.

Hueston, William J, MD, and Mainous III, Arch G. Ph.D. Acute Bronchitis. Retrieved July 31, 2007, from the AAFP Web site: http://www.aafp.org/afp/980315ap/hueston.html.

Pulmonarychannel.com (2007). Bronchitis Overview, Causes and Risk Factors. Retrieved July 31, 2007, from the Pulmonology Channel Web site: http://www.pulmonologychannel.com/bronchitis/.