Bronchitis is an infection of the bronchial tubes that carry air to your lungs. It causes these airways to swell and produce mucus. Bronchitis can be acute (sudden and severe) or chronic (develops and worsens over time).

Acute bronchitis is viral and often occurs after a respiratory infection such as a cold or the flu. This kind of bronchitis is also called a chest cold. Chronic bronchitis is repeated, recurring inflammation. It is most often caused by cigarette smoking or air pollution, including secondhand smoke.

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What are symptoms of bronchitis?

Signs of bronchitis are similar for both the acute and chronic versions:

  • Coughing that produces mucus
  • Soreness or tightness in the chest
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Body aches

Most acute bronchitis symptoms clear up on their own after two weeks, but the cough could last as long as eight weeks.

How is bronchitis treated?

A healthcare provider can diagnose bronchitis. A chest X-ray may be used to rule out pneumonia. However, antibiotics will not help treat viral bronchitis.

Most acute bronchitis symptoms will improve on their own with the help of at-home remedies:

  • Drink fluids
  • Take over-the-counter pain medicines (as directed)
  • Use a humidifier
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Avoid irritants such as smoke, fumes or pollution

Contact a healthcare provider if your or your child have any of these bronchitis symptoms:

  • Cough with bloody mucus
  • Trouble breathing
  • Fever higher than 100.4°F
  • Inability to sleep
  • Cough that lasts longer than three weeks

If you think you may have acute or chronic bronchitis and need help managing your symptoms, CareNow® urgent care can help. Locate the nearest CareNow® urgent care clinic today.

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