Thumbnail image of: Respiratory System: Illustration

Acute Bronchitis: Brief Version

What is acute bronchitis?

When you have acute bronchitis, the airways between your windpipe and your lungs are swollen and irritated. Some people call it a chest cold.

What is the cause?

Acute bronchitis is most often caused by a virus, like a cold or the flu. It can also be caused by bacteria.

Most of the time, it clears up in a few days. It may take you longer to get better if:

  • You smoke cigarettes.
  • You have a heart or lung disease or other health problems.
  • There’s a lot of air pollution or secondhand smoke where you live or work.

What are the symptoms?

You may:

  • Have a deep cough with yellowish or greenish mucus.
  • Feel pain in your chest when you breathe deeply or cough.
  • Wheeze or feel short of breath.
  • Have a fever or chills.

How can I take care of myself?

Rest at home and drink plenty of fluids to keep the mucus loose. Also, don’t smoke, and stay away from others who are smoking. You should get better in a few days.

If your symptoms are severe or you have heart or lung disease or diabetes, you may need to see your healthcare provider or take medicine.

How can I help prevent acute bronchitis?

You can lower your chances of getting bronchitis if you wash your hands after using the restroom, coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Also wash your hands before eating or touching your eyes.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-07-31
Last reviewed: 2014-07-31
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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