Bronchitis – Symptoms, Causes and Risk factors

bronchitis symptoms

When you have inflammation on your bronchial tubes (the lining of the bronchial tubes), then you have bronchitis. Bronchial tubes are taking air from your lungs and also are carrying air to your lungs. When people are suffering from bronchitis, then they are coughing thickened mucus. Bronchitis can appear in two forms such as chronic bronchitis and acute-bronchitis. When you are having continuous cold you can easily develop acute bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is serious condition. In many cases this condition is caused by the permanent smoking. When you are smoker, you are irritating your bronchial tubes which are causing chronic bronchitis [1]. Acute bronchitis can be gone easily. In the most cases this type of bronchitis is not causing long lasting effects. In some cases there still can be cough in the first week from the treatment. But if the situation is constantly repeating, then you are having chronic bronchitis which should be treated with medical help. When people are having acute bronchitis they can cough which is appearing after the treatment. When people are suffering from chronic bronchitis they are having constant cough for three months which is repeating in two years. When people are suffering from bronchitis, they are also having periods when their chronic bronchitis is getting worse.

Bronchitis Symptoms, Causes and Risk factors

Symptoms: No matter what kind of bronchitis you have (acute or chronic) the symptoms of this disease are common:

  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest discomfort
  • Slight fever and chills
  • Production of mucus (sputum) which can be white, green, clear, yellowish-gray in the color. In rare cases when people are suffering from bronchitis they are having mucus with blood.

When to see a doctor? You should visit your doctor of your cough:

  • Produces blood
  • Is accompanied by fever higher than 380C (100.4 F)
  • Lasts more than three weeks
  • Is associated with wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Prevents you from sleeping
  • Produces discolored mucus

When you have felt some of the mentioned symptoms, then you should visit your doctor. He or she will refer you to pulmonologist who is doctor specialized in lung diseases. Before you visit your doctor, you should know if you had flu or pneumonia in the past. Tell your doctor if you have used some medications for your condition. Also you should tell your doctor if there is some kind of lung irritation at your job. Also it is very effective if you have some family member at the appointment because it is very helpful to have someone who can remember everything when you are in a stressful situation. If you have visited other doctors and they have made some tests on you, then you should also tell this to your doctor. Your doctor can ask you some of the next questions:

  • When is the first time that you have started to feel your symptoms?
  • Are your symptoms occasional or continuous?
  • Had you bronchitis which lasted more than three weeks in your past?
  • When you had bronchitis are you had shortness of breath?
  • Are you a smoker? [1]
  • If you are smoker, how long are you smoking?
  • What kind of medicines have you used for your situation?
  • Have the medicines helped in your situation?
  • Have the medicines which you have used worsen the situation?
  • When it is cold outside, does the cold air bothers you?

Causes: Acute bronchitis is caused by influenza. Influenza is virus which is causing cold and flu [2]. It is known from the medicine that antibiotics are not killing this type of virus, so you should consult with your doctor about the right medical treatment for your situation. People who are smoking are having the biggest risk for chronic-bronchitis. [1] Also people who are exposed to dust, air pollution and toxic gases [3] are having increased chances to get chronic-bronchitis.

Risk factors: Here are the risk factors which can increase the risk of getting bronchitis:

  • Gastric reflux: Severe heartburn or repeated bouts are increasing the risk having bronchitis. [4]
  • Cigarette smoke: People who are smoker or people who are exposed to cigarettes because they are living with people who are smoking, are having increased chances to get acute and chronic bronchitis. [1]
  • Exposure to irritants on the job: If you are working with textiles, chemical factories or grains, then you are increasing the risk of developing bronchitis. [5]
  • Low resistance: People who had some chronic disease in the past are having increased chances of getting bronchitis. [6]


[1] Mitchell RS, Vincent TN, Filley GF. Cigarette smoking, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. JAMA. 1964;188(1):12-6.

[2] Gorikov I, Kolosov V, Nakhamchen L, Reznik V. Systemic inflammatory response in acute bronchitis, caused by influenza A (H1N1) swl in pregnant women. European Respiratory Journal. 2017;50:PA4133.

[3] Arbak P, Baser I, Kumbasar OO, et al. Long term effects of tear gases on respiratory system: Analysis of 93 cases. The Scientific World Journal. 2014.

[4] Iliaz S, Iliaz R, Onur ST, et al. Does gastroesophageal reflux increase chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations? Respiratory Medicine. 2016;115:20-5.

[5] Baur X, Bakehe P, Vellguth H. Bronchial asthma and COPD due to irritants in the workplace – an evidence-based approach. Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology. 2012.

[6] Liao W, Chen J, Chen X, et al. Impact of resistance training in subjects with COPD: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Respiratory Care. 2015;60(8):1130-45.


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