Bronchitis is a respiratory ailment which occurs when the mucus membrane in the lungs’ bronchial passages becomes swollen. Bronchitis is an infection of the inside layer of the bronchial tubes, which are the tubes that transfer air to and from the lungs.
People who have bronchitis often have a severe cough that produces thick or discolored mucus. This mucus is a filmy substance, produced by the inside layer of the bronchial tubes. Bronchitis may also cause wheezing, chest pain, a low fever, and shortness of breath. As the irritated membrane swells and grows thicker, it contracts or shuts off the tiny airways in the lungs. This can initiate coughing spells that result in phlegm production and breathlessness.
There are two primary types of bronchitis: acute, which lasts from one to three weeks, and chronic, which lasts at least three months of the year for two or more consecutive years. People with asthma may also have asthmatic bronchitis, which is also caused by inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes.
Types of Bronchitis:
The two main types of bronchitis are acute, or short-term, and chronic, or ongoing.
Bronchitis may be either acute or chronic.
Often developing from a cold or other respiratory infection, acute bronchitis is very common. Chronic bronchitis is a more serious condition, and results from a continual irritation or soreness of the inside layer of the bronchial tubes. It is often caused by smoking.
Acute bronchitis usually improves within a few days and typically does not have lasting effects, although you may continue to cough for weeks after the initial infection clears up. If you have repeated bouts of bronchitis, you may actually have chronic bronchitis. This condition requires medical attention. Chronic bronchitis is one component of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Acute Bronchitis – Infections or lung irritations cause acute bronchitis. The same viruses that cause cold and flu symptoms are the most common cause of acute bronchitis. These viruses are spread through the air when people cough, as well as through physical contact (for example, by hands that have not been washed). Sometimes, bacteria can also cause acute bronchitis.
Acute bronchitis can typically last up to 10 days. However, a cough may linger for several weeks after the initial infection has been resolved.
Acute bronchitis lasts from a few days to 10 days. However, coughing may last for several weeks after the infection is gone.
Several factors increase your risk for acute bronchitis. Examples include exposure to tobacco smoke (including secondhand smoke), dust, fumes, vapors, and air pollution. Avoiding these lung irritants as much as possible can help lower your risk for acute bronchitis.
Most cases of acute bronchitis go away within a few days. If you think you have acute bronchitis, see your doctor. He or she will want to rule out other, more serious health conditions that require medical care.
Chronic Bronchitis – Chronic bronchitis is an ongoing, serious condition. It occurs when the inside layer of the bronchial tubes remains constantly irritated and swollen, causing a long-term cough that produces mucus. Smoking is the main cause of chronic bronchitis.
Viruses or bacteria can easily infect the already-irritated bronchial tubes. If this happens, the condition can worsen and last longer. As a result, people who have chronic bronchitis have periods when symptoms get much worse than usual.
Chronic bronchitis is a long-term medical condition. Early diagnosis and treatment, combined with quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke and other irritants, can improve quality of life. The chance of a complete recovery is low for people who have severe chronic bronchitis.