summary about bronchitis

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchi that is manifested by coughing accompanied by expectoration.
This is a very common disease that can be divided into two types: acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis.
Acute bronchitis is often the consequence or complication of the flu or a cold, usually of viral origin.

Chronic bronchitis is caused, in most cases, by smoking, air pollution or exposure to noxious gases.

Symptoms common to both forms of bronchitis can include: coughing , shortness of breath, wheezing. Sometimes some people have chest discomfort, tiredness, or fever. Bronchitis is characterized by the production of mucus of variable color (white or transparent, yellow or green).

Bronchitis therapy varies according to the type of bronchitis. In acute bronchitis, it is recommended to rest for a few days and use expectorants or thinners to treat the cough.

In cases of chronic bronchitis, special efforts are made to eliminate the cause (tobacco, pollution). There are also several medications used in cases of chronic bronchitis.

It is possible to use medicinal plants for the treatment of bronchitis, in addition to pelargonium (Cape geranium) or thyme.
To treat bronchitis, it is recommended to drink plenty of fluids and rest well.
Finally, it is worth noting the importance of preventive measures in cases of bronchitis, such as: humidifying rooms or minimizing exposure to tobacco smoke. This advice especially applies to those most at risk, such as the elderly, children and babies, smokers, people with heart problems or those suffering from lung disease.

See: bronchiolitis – cough


Bronchitis is an irritation and inflammation of the bronchi, which manifests itself through coughing.
Bronchitis is a permanent bronchial hypersecretion that spreads over several weeks or even years and can recur.
We distinguish between acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis .

1. Definition of acute bronchitis

Acute bronchitis is most often caused by a viral infection of the bronchi, a consequence of a cold or flu , in winter, in a place with a lot of smoke or when there is pollution in the air. Bronchitis occurs suddenly and lasts only a few days, hence the name acute bronchitis as opposed to chronic bronchitis.

2. Definition of chronic bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is often caused by smoking or air pollution, these substances irritate the bronchi and respiratory tract.

The World Health Organization (WHO) refers to chronic bronchitis if the symptoms are present for at least three months a year, for two consecutive years or more, with more or less intense shortness of breath and asthma attacks.

During the year, there may be frequent episodes of acute exacerbations (outbreaks) that manifest with increased coughing and expectoration, causing greater obstruction to the passage of air to the bronchi and lungs. In some cases, chronic bronchitis can coexist with pulmonary emphysema (a slow process of degeneration of lung tissue).

You should also know that around 50% of cases of chronic bronchitis lead to respiratory failure.


In the United States, in May 2018, the University of California, Berkeley estimated that 5% of Americans in the general population suffer from chronic bronchitis. In the United States, chronic bronchitis is characterized by a deep, productive cough with mucus that, over time, becomes constant and lasts for months.


Depending on the type of bronchitis, the causes are different:

1. Causes of acute bronchitis

Acute bronchitis is mainly caused by viruses (adenovirus, parainfluenza and influenza, rhinovirus, etc.)

Acute bronchitis is often a consequence of a cold or flu complication.

In about 10% of cases, bronchitis is of bacterial origin. There is also talk, in this case, of bacterial superinfection with serious complications such as pneumonia .

Transmission occurs from person to person via the respiratory tract.

In winter, the (excessive) heating of environments results in dry air and the fact that the windows are closed, generally causes difficulty in maintaining adequate humidity in the mucous membranes. They therefore face greater difficulty in playing a protective role against the “invasion” of harmful substances such as viruses.

2. Causes of chronic bronchitis

– Chronic bronchitis is a much more serious illness than acute bronchitis.

In most cases, chronic bronchitis is caused by tobacco consumption: tobacco irritates the airways and causes inflammation called chronic bronchitis. Also note that for smokers, we talk more also that COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a combination of two respiratory diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The disease seems to be increasing a lot among the population.

– Chronic bronchitis can also be caused by air pollution, which irritates the airways and causes inflammation, which is the case with some workers on construction sites or in polluted industries.

– Other causes such as allergies or recurrent infections are also responsible for chronic bronchitis.

Groups of risk

– People who are most at risk of suffering from acute bronchitis are: elderly people, children and babies, smokers, people with heart problems or people suffering from lung disease.

– People who snore seem to be more likely to get chronic bronchitis. A study by South Korean researchers on the subject was published in early 2008 in the United States.


The symptoms of bronchitis vary depending on the type of disease (see definition of bronchitis). It is often possible to list certain symptoms common to both forms of bronchitis, such as:

– Cough , with production of mucus. Mucus can have different colors: white or transparent liquid, yellow or green;

– Shortness of breath made worse by stress, sometimes with wheezing;

– Chest pains;

– Fatigue

– Fever

More specifically, typical symptoms for each type of bronchitis are as follows:

1. Symptoms of acute bronchitis

Acute bronchitis usually appears abruptly and does not last long, that is, it usually disappears within a few days. Symptoms that may precede the onset of acute bronchitis are retrosternal heartburn or difficulty breathing.

The cough is usually dry at first and, after a few days, becomes more productive, with expectoration (there may be thick, yellowish mucus in cases of bacterial superinfection). When mucus is viscous enough, it is called mucus.
However, the cough may continue for weeks after the acute phase of bronchitis.

These symptoms are caused by the effects of inflammation on the bronchial tubes which swell and produce mucus and pus.

– Low fever (less than 38 ° C) and which often disappears between 3 and 5 days;

– Headaches ;

– Sore throat ;

– Hoarseness ;

– Respiratory complications (eg children or the elderly) or bacterial complications such as pneumonia (very rare but still possible, especially in the elderly).

It should be noted that only a doctor can make an accurate diagnosis of bronchitis in vulnerable people (children, adolescents, elderly people, asthmatics). Medical consultation is always necessary as complications such as respiratory failure may occur.

2. Symptoms of chronic bronchitis

Symptoms of chronic bronchitis include:

– Cough , usually with expectoration;

– Wheezing;

– The effort of coughing;

– Different respiratory complications.

As with acute bronchitis, with chronic bronchitis only a doctor can make an accurate diagnosis and this is highly recommended, particularly for regular smokers. It is known that smokers are much more likely than non-smokers to suffer from chronic bronchitis or COPD (chronic bronchitis accompanied by pulmonary emphysema).


– In general, abnormal breath sounds (wheezing, crackles) can be heard by the doctor with a stethoscope. Other tests may be carried out, for example, such as a pulmonary function test or an X-ray.

– It may also be helpful to have a blood test to measure oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. Collection of saliva samples to check for bacterial infections may also be done.

Sometimes, the doctor can perform or prescribe tests to rule out (or confirm) the presence of other illnesses with similar symptoms, such as pneumonia .


Acute bronchitis usually goes away after a few days. In rare cases, if acute bronchitis is not treated properly, it can develop into pneumonia .

Always consult a doctor or pharmacist if:

– The cough is very pronounced, with difficulty sleeping. If the cough lasts longer and is accompanied by shortness of breath, if there is production of yellowish mucus, greenish mucus or if traces of blood are detected;

– If the fever lasts for more than three days, or fever greater than 38.5 °C;

– If there are several relapses during the year;

– If you are an elderly person or a person with other lung diseases (asthma, emphysema, etc.) or heart disease.

The complications of chronic bronchitis are much more serious, as mentioned in the causes of bronchitis.

Especially among smokers, the disease can progress to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) which is a combination of two respiratory diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD appears to be increasing sharply in the population.

In fact, in cases of chronic bronchitis with an almost constant inflammatory condition, there can be several complications, such as pulmonary emphysema (leading to COPD), a change in the lung characterized by an abnormal dilatation with formation of air pockets in connection with the cells and loss of lung tissue elasticity.


The treatment of bronchitis depends on the type of bronchitis (see definition below):

1. Treatment of acute bronchitis

Firstly, it is important to note that in most cases acute bronchitis can naturally improve on its own without medical treatment within 2 weeks. Some sources, such as the University of California, Berkeley, speak of a dozen days.

The treatment of acute bronchitis is symptomatic (without treating the cause, just treating the symptoms), because in most cases the origin of acute bronchitis is viral and there are no antiviral treatments for bronchitis. In general, for the treatment of acute bronchitis, rest for a few days is advised and, in some cases, antitussive drugs (see paragraph below) and antipyretics.

If possible, antitussives should not be overused in cases of acute bronchitis, as it is important that the cough evolves. In particular, especially when mucus is abundant, as it helps to remove irritants from the respiratory tract that cause coughing. If mucus stagnates in the bronchi, there may be a risk of lung superinfection.

However, if the cough is keeping you awake, you can use a sedative such as a cough suppressant with a sedative effect, but in this case you should also avoid completely blocking the cough stimulation.

Against pain, the patient can take analgesics or antipyretics (paracetamol, for example).

Sometimes the doctor can prescribe medication to help open the bronchial tubes.

Then, to treat cough with sputum, thinners or expectorants are used to, respectively, thin and expel the mucus. Some specialists believe that the prescription of expectorants has no scientific basis for the treatment of acute bronchitis.

Thinners (which reduce mucus viscosity) or mucolytics :

– Based on acetylcysteine , presented as tablets, effervescent tablets, sachets:

– Based on carbocysteine, in the presentation of cough syrup:

Expecting :

– Saline expectorants (ammonium chloride) or a base of vegetable extracts.

In cases of bacterial infection, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics.

We must remember that most of the time bronchitis is of viral origin, so antibiotics are useless.

2. Treatment of chronic bronchitis

The first measure to be taken in case of chronic bronchitis is to investigate the cause of the disease and eliminate it. In most cases, the cause is tobacco smoking, and the individual must try at all costs to stop smoking before it is too late.

If the cause of the illness is chemicals or pollutants, the individual should also try to stop or reduce contact with the sources of the products that trigger chronic bronchitis.

If chronic bronchitis persists even after trying to treat the causes, the doctor has treatment options with different medications, such as fluidizers, bronchodilators and antibiotics (if there is a bacterial infection).

In severe cases, the doctor may also prescribe oxygen (oxygen). If you suffer from asthma or COPD, your doctor may recommend aerosols and other medications (eg, corticosteroids) to reduce inflammation and bronchial occlusion.

It may also be useful in some cases to carry out a program of respiratory re-education exercises, based on simple physical readaptation exercises that can provide some advantages to the patient. Seek medical advice.

Herbal medicine

Plants to treat bronchitis:

– the thyme

– the guaco


– Never underestimate bronchitis, even if acute; always treat it to avoid complications (eg pneumonia ).

– Drink plenty of fluids, drinking allows you to thin the mucus, you can drink, for example, thyme infusion.

– Humidify and ventilate rooms regularly, especially in winter, as this reduces the likelihood of being infected by viruses (preventive effect).

– Do not smoke.

– Rest during the period of bronchitis, especially in cases of fever .


It is also equally important to take preventive measures to reduce the risk of developing bronchitis, especially when cases of bronchitis are frequent during the year (recurrent bronchitis or chronic bronchitis).

Before going into detail about preventive measures, the most important thing is always to try to clearly identify the cause, this can lie in the environment you live in: such as a cold and humid environment, or infectious agents.

Useful advice to reduce the risk of bronchitis and, in general, to protect the lungs are:

– Limit exposure to viruses that cause bronchitis. Avoid, whenever possible, coming into contact with people who have a cold or the flu. During flu season, avoid crowded places and, when possible, wear a mask covering your nose and mouth to reduce the risk of infection.

– When possible, get a flu shot in the fall or winter. Numerous cases of bronchitis are caused by the influenza virus. Vaccination can therefore reduce the risk of acute bronchitis in particular. Since 2021, it is also advisable to be vaccinated against Covid-19 (if possible), a viral disease that causes respiratory infections that are sometimes very serious.

– Wash your hands frequently and use disinfectants.

– Do not smoke and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke, in order to reduce the risk of contracting, above all, chronic bronchitis or pulmonary emphysema. If your chronic bronchitis is caused by tobacco, it is imperative that you try to stop smoking.

– Use a humidifier in the room you are in. Air that is too dry (but also too humid!) can cause respiratory problems, including bronchitis.

– Try to inhale and exhale as much as possible through your nose and not through your mouth; the nose is actually capable of blocking pathogens.

– Wash your hands frequently, especially in winter when there are many cases of colds and flu.

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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