Bronchitis is a condition where the lining of the bronchial tubes become inflamed or infected causing a prolonged cough. People with bronchitis have a reduced ability to breathe in air and oxygen into their lungs.
Types of Bronchitis
Acute bronchitis is a shorter illness that commonly follows a cold or viral infection such as the flu. It consists of a cough with mucus, chest discomfort or soreness, fever and sometimes shortness of breath. Acute bronchitis may last a few days or even weeks. Acute bronchitis IS contagious, to reduce your risk of contracting the virus; avoid close contact with sick people, wash your hands often, avoid touching your eyes nose and mouth, and get an annual flu vaccination.
Chronic bronchitis is a serious, ongoing illness characterized by a persistent, mucus-producing cough that lasts longer than three months. It develops due to continued irritation and inflammation of air passages over a course of many years. Smoking and prolonged exposure to polluted air are the most common causes of chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is not contagious.
The main symptom of bronchitis (both acute and chronic) is a prolonged cough that can sometimes last for several months if the bronchial tubes take a long time to heal. The following are additional symptoms one might endure.
- Mucus caused by persistent cough
- Low fever and chills
- Chest tightening
- Sore throat
- Body aches
- Blocked nose and sinuses
People suffering from acute bronchitis are usually advised to rest, drink fluids, breathe warm and moist air (from a humidifier), and to take over the counter cough suppressants and pain relievers in order to manage symptoms and ease breathing. Many cases of acute bronchitis go away without any specific treatment but there is no cure for chronic bronchitis. One can avoid the chronic condition by either quitting smoking or choosing to not smoke.
If you think you may have contracted bronchitis, visit your doctor or healthcare provider immediately.