Jill Shuman, MS, RD, ELS
Air passes to the lungs through airways called bronchi. Bronchitis is the swelling of the bronchi. It can make breathing difficult.
There are different types of bronchitis such as:
This fact sheet focuses on acute bronchitis.
The swelling in the bronchi may be caused by:
Factors that increase your risk of acute bronchitis include:
Symptoms of acute bronchitis may include:
You may also have other cold or flu symptoms such as slight fever, sore throat, and nasal congestion.
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests are rarely needed. The following may be recommended if the bronchitis is severe or the diagnosis is not clear:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
Antibiotics will not be helpful if the infection is caused by a virus. Most of these infections are caused by viruses.
If you are diagnosed with bronchitis, follow your doctor's
To reduce your chance of getting bronchitis, follow these steps:
American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor
American Lung Association
The Canadian Lung Association
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Acute bronchitis. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at:
http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/acute-bronchitis.html. Updated February 2010. Accessed March 29, 2013.
Acute bronchitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated February 8, 2013. Accessed March 29, 2013.
Know when antibiotics work: Bronchitis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/antibiotic-use/URI/bronchitis.html. Updated May 1, 2012. Accessed March 29, 2013.
Smith S, Fahey T, et al. Antibiotics for acute bronchitis.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;CD000245.
Nonprescription cough and cold medicine use in children. Medwatch: 2007 Safety Alerts for Drugs, Biologics, Medical Devices, and Dietary Supplements. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at:
http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm152691.htm. Accessed: March 29, 2013.
1/4/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Timmer A, Gunther J, Rucker G, Motschall E, Antes G, Kern WV.
extract for acute respiratory tract infections.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008;(3):CD006323.
Last reviewed June 2013 by
Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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