back-arrow-image Search Health Packages, Tests & More


Preventive Healthcare

Bronchitis: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis And Treatment



Bronchitis occurs when the airways (trachea and bronchi) that carry oxygen to the lungs become inflamed and filled with mucus. You get a persistent cough as your body attempts to expel the mucus. As well a feeling of shortness of breath, and wheezing, are among other bronchitis symptoms normally experienced. 

Bronchitis has two main types: 

  1. Acute Bronchitis: Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a viral infection and clears up in a few weeks. It causes a dry cough with mucus, and symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness.
  2. Chronic Bronchitis: Chronic bronchitis closely means COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The inflamed bronchi creates a lot of Lukas. This causes coughing and difficulties getting air into and out of the lungs. The right treatment will help reduce your symptoms, but chronic bronchitis is a long-term condition that either returns or never goes away completely.

Bronchitis treatment options will depend on the cause if it's a virus then usually supportive measures, sometimes an inhaler or a steroid help decrease the inflammation and the lungs. If it's bacterial then doctors treat it with an antibiotic.

Symptoms of Bronchitis

The symptoms of either acute bronchitis or chronic bronchitis include 

  1. Shortness of breath (dyspnea).
  2. Slight fever and chills
  3. Chest discomfort
  4. Runny nose.
  5. Tiredness (Fatigue).
  6. Unproductive or minimally productive cough which is a component or preceded by upper respiratory infection (URI) symptoms. 

You may have cold symptoms such as a minor headache or body aches if you have acute bronchitis. While these symptoms normally resolve within a week, you may experience a persistent cough for several weeks or even longer.

Subjective Dyspnea results from chest pain and difficulty breathing. Symptoms are usually absent, but they can include scattered rhonchi and wheezing.

Sputum (mucus) can be clear, purulent, or even bloody. Sputum traits do not correspond to specific etiologies (i.e., viral or bacterial)

A slight fever is possible, but a high or persistent fever is unusual and may indicate influenza or pneumonia.

Causes of Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis is an inflammation of the upper air commonly following an upper respiratory tract infection (URI). The cause is usually a viral infection though it's sometimes a bacterial infection; the pathogen is rarely identified. 

  • Viruses responsible may include rhinovirus, parainfluenza, influenza A or B, respiratory syncytial virus, coronavirus, and human metapneumovirus. 
  • Bacteria may include mycoplasma pneumonia, bordetella pertussis, and chlamydia pneumonia. 

Patients at risk are those who smoke and those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other diseases which impair bronchial clearance mechanisms, such as cystic fibrosis are conditions leading to bronchiectasis. Breathing in various fumes and dust for an extended length of time can also cause chronic bronchitis.

Diagnosis of Bronchitis

A physical exam and your symptoms will typically inform your doctor whether you have bronchitis. The doctor will inquire about your cough, and what kind of mucus comes up with it. A doctor also listens to your lungs to discover if anything sounds abnormal, such as wheezing.

Depending on whether you have acute or chronic bronchitis symptoms, your doctor may order various tests. Diagnosis is based on clinical presentation. 

  1. Chest X-Rays: Done if the finding suggests pneumonia (such as abnormal vital signs, crackles, signs of consolidation, and hypoxemia are present). Elderly patients are the occasional exception and they may require a chest X-ray for productive cough and fever in absence of auscultatory findings (particularly if there's a history of COPD or another lung disorder).
  2. Pulmonary Function Test: During a pulmonary function test, you blow into a spirometer, which measures how much air your lungs can contain and how rapidly you can move air out of your lungs. This test looks for symptoms of asthma or emphysema.
  3. Sputum Test: The sputum test has no role in diagnosis if the cough is resolved within two weeks. But it can be used to discover whether you have any illnesses that might help from antibiotics. Sputum can also be checked for allergy symptoms.

When Should You See a Doctor?

Bronchitis can have triggers that occur year-round during the winter. It's typically upper respiratory infections in the spring. It can be allergens. 

Consult your doctor if your cough:

  • Lasts for more than three weeks.
  • Keeps you up at night
  • Is accompanied by a fever of more than 100.4 F
  • Discolored mucus is produced.
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath

Treatment of Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis is the most common reason for antibiotic use in healthy patients. Almost all patients just require symptomatic treatment, such as acetaminophen. Other bronchitis treatment includes:

  • Cough Suppressants (Antitussives) should only be used if the cough doesn't let you sleep peacefully. 
  • Bronchodilators - A medication that helps open your airways is prescribed if you're having problems breathing.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Medicines, like Corticosteroids, may be prescribed.
  • Wheezing patients may benefit from inhaled beta-agonists (eg., arbitral) or an anticholinergic (such as ipratropium) for less than or equal to 7 days. 
  • If the cough persists for more than two weeks because of air irritation some patients benefit from a few days of inhaled corticosteroids.

Oral antibiotics are normally not used in patients with pertussis or COPD who have at least two of the following symptoms: 

  1. Increased cough 
  2. Increased Dyspnea
  3. Increase in sputum purulence 

For others, drugs like Amoxicillin 500 milligrams, doxycycline 100 mg, and azithromycin 500 mg, together with trimethoprim/ sulfamethoxazole 160/800 mg are given.


Bronchitis, or inflammation of the airways, is not contagious; but, the viruses and bacteria that can cause it are. It can be unpleasant, but it normally goes away on its own within a few days. Chronic bronchitis, however, is an ongoing illness. Even when you're no longer suffering from a runny nose and body aches, the cough appears to persist forever. Over-the-counter medications can help you get by until you feel better. Talk to your doctor if you're having problems controlling your Bronchitis symptoms.

Talk to our health advisor

Book Now


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Popular Tests

Choose from our frequently booked blood tests

TruHealth Packages

View More

Choose from our wide range of TruHealth Package and Health Checkups

View More

Do you have any queries?