Cardiovascular Bronchitis

What is bronchitis

Bronchitis is inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes, which important for the flow of air to and from your lungs. People who have bronchitis usually cough up thickened mucus which may be discolored. There are two types of bronchitis-chronic or acute.

It usually develops from a cold or other respiratory infections; acute bronchitis is very popular. Chronic bronchitis, which is a more serious condition, is a continuous inflammation or irritation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, often due to smoking.

Acute bronchitis, also called a chest cold, often improves within a week to ten days without lasting effects, although the cough may persist for weeks.

However, if you have repeated rounds of bronchitis, you could have chronic bronchitis, which requires medical attention. Chronic bronchitis is  a disease that is also related to in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for short.1

Causes, symptoms and treatment

Causes of bronchitis

You nearly always get bronchitis from a virus. Yet, almost anything that irritates your airways can cause it. Non-infectious and infectious causes of bronchitis are:

  • Viruses - that cause bronchitis include flu, adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), coronavirus and rhinovirus (the common cold)
  • Bacteria - that cause bronchitis include Chlamydia pneumonia, Bordetella pertussis and Mycoplasma pneumonia
  • Pollution
  • Smoking cigarettes or marijuana (cannabis)2

Risk factors

Factors that increase your risk of bronchitis consist of:

  • Cigarette smoke - people who smoke or who live with a smoker are at greater risk of both acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis
  • Low immune resistance - this may develop from another acute illness, such as a cold, or from a chronic condition that jeopardizes your immune system. Infants, older adults and young children have higher vulnerability to infection
  • Disclosure to irritants on the job - your risk of developing bronchitis is higher if you work around certain lung irritants, such as textiles or grains, or are exposed to chemical fumes
  • Gastric reflux - repeated rounds of severe heartburn can irritate your throat and make you more prone to growing bronchitis1

Symptoms of bronchitis

Symptoms of acute bronchitis include: 

  • Cough 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Wheezing 
  • “Rattle” sensation in chest 
  • General ill feeling, or malaise 
  • Slight fever 
  • Soreness in the back of your throat 
  • Soreness, chest pain and tightness in the chest 
  • Poor sleep 
  • Chills (uncommon) 
  • Symptoms of chronic bronchitis include: 
  • Cough that creates mucus (sputum), which may be blood marked 
  • Shortness of breath agitated by exertion or mild activity 
  • Frequent respiratory infections that worsen symptoms 
  • Wheezing 
  • Fatigue 
  • Headaches3

Treatment for bronchitis

Majority cases of bronchitis are caused by viral infections antibiotics aren't effective. Yet, if your doctor assumes that you have a bacterial infection, you may be prescribed an antibiotic.

In some situations, your doctor may recommend other medications, including:

  • Cough medicine -  if it prevents you from sleeping, you might try cough suppressants at bedtime.
  • Other medications - If you have  asthma, allergies or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), your doctor may suggested an inhaler and other medications to reduce inflammation and open narrowed passages in your lungs.1

Diagnosis and prevention

How is bronchitis diagnosed

Your doctor can asses you have bronchitis based on your health history and symptoms. They will listen to your lungs for signs of congestion and to make sure your breathing is normal. They might test you for viral infections, like the flu or COVID-19.

There are no particular tests to diagnose bronchitis, but you might be tested for other diseases. Potential tests consist of:

  • Nasal swab -  your doctor may use a soft-tipped stick (swab) in your nose to test for viruses, like flu or COVID-19
  • Chest X-ray - if your cough lasts for a long time, you may get a chest X-ray to rule out more severe conditions. Your doctor will use a machine to get pictures of your heart and lungs
  • Blood test - your doctor may order blood tests
  • Sputum test - your  healthcare provider may have you cough and then spit into a tube. Your sample will be tested for signs of a bacteria or virus
  • Pulmonary function tests - if your doctor thinks you have chronic bronchitis, they may use a machine to test how well your lungs work2

Can we prevent bronchitis? If so, how?

To decrease your risk of bronchitis, follow these tips:

  • Avoid smoke from cigarettes - cigarette smoke raises your risk of chronic bronchitis
  • Get vaccinated - a lot of cases of acute bronchitis result from flu - a virus. Getting a yearly flu vaccine can help defend you from getting the flu. You may also want to think about vaccination that protects against some types of pneumonia
  • Wash your hands - to decrease your risk of catching a viral infection, wash your hands frequently and get in the habit of using alcohol-based hand sanitisers
  • Wear a surgical mask - if you have COPD, you should consider wearing a face mask at work if you're exposed to fumes or dust, and when you're going to be among crowds, such as while traveling1


Bronchitis can be defined as being either chronic or acute bronchitis.

Acute bronchitis is brief inflammation of the airways that causes  mucus and cough. It lasts up to three weeks. It can affect people of all ages, but mainly happens in children under the age of five. It's more common in winter and usually comes on after a common cold, sore throat or the flu. Chronic bronchitis is a daily vigorous cough that lasts for three months during the year and for at least two years in a row. It's one of a number of lung diseases, including emphysema, that are collectively known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It mainly affects adults over the age of forty. It's vital that you stop smoking if you have bronchitis. Cigarette smoke and the chemicals within them make bronchitis worse and increase your risk of developing chronic bronchitis and COPD.4


  1. “Bronchitis - Symptoms and Causes.” Mayo Clinic, Accessed 28 Dec. 2022.
  2. “Bronchitis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, Accessed 28 Dec. 2022.
  3. Bronchitis. Accessed 28 Dec. 2022.
  4. “Bronchitis.” Nhs.Uk, 17 Oct. 2017,
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Anna Mizerska

Masters in Global Health and Biomedical Engineer
Anna is a highly analytical and insightful professional with progressive experience in providing quality services in fast-paced and high-pressure environments. Over the years she has built up extensive knowledge, expertise and transferable skills that translate into writing reliable medical content and articles.

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