Both Acute and Chronic Forms of Bronchitis Exist

banner of Acute and Chronic Bronchitis: Risk Factors, Prevention, and Treatment

In the midst of the global pandemic, many individuals are paying especially close attention to their symptoms, such as sore throats, fevers, or breathing problems. While most people are looking for one virus, there are many other types of infections that one can obtain in today's world. If one of your symptoms includes difficulty breathing, a cough, and a sore throat, you may end up having bronchitis. If you have bronchitis, you may be coughing up discolored mucus. The typical symptoms of bronchitis include coughing, tiredness, breathing problems, chest pain or discomfort, chills, a fever, and mucus production. If you have bronchitis, your cough is likely to last for an extended period of time. It could be a few weeks lasting to several months. Bronchitis can be triggered by viruses. If your cough lasts more than three weeks and produces mucus, you should see your doctor, especially if your symptoms are accompanied by a fever and wheezing. There are two different types of bronchitis you should be aware of. The first type is known as acute bronchitis while the second type is called chronic bronchitis.

Acute Bronchitis versus Chronic Bronchitis

If you have acute bronchitis, your cough is likely to last several weeks. In addition, viruses are more likely to produce acute bronchitis. The same type of viruses that lead to flus and colds could lead someone to develop acute bronchitis. It is also possible that sometimes acute bronchitis can be caused by a bacterial infection, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Sometimes even having bronchitis one time can lead a person to contract pneumonia.

Chronic bronchitis, however, leads to a cough that can last three or four months and often recurs several times over two or more years. Sometimes the symptoms of chronic bronchitis can worsen and bring on more acute outcomes. Chronic bronchitis is commonly caused by smoking, but may also be caused by dust and dirty air or other toxins found outdoors or in a work environment.

The biggest difference that people will see between the acute and chronic forms of bronchitis is that the symptoms do not disappear after a couple of weeks if one has chronic bronchitis. For those with chronic bronchitis, their airway linings are usually inflamed, which leads their airway lining to swell and create more mucus.

Bronchitis Risks and How to Prevent this Condition

The typical risk factors that will make it more likely for you to develop bronchitis include:

  • Smoking or second-hand smoke
  • Having asthma or allergies
  • Other illnesses or being immuno-compromised
  • Being exposed to toxins, irritants, and excessive dust especially when at work
  • Serious heartburn

As such, there are multiple steps you can take to prevent bronchitis. First, you should be sure to not smoke or quit smoking. Next, you should also get a flu vaccine every year to make sure you have a lower risk of getting the flu or even pneumonia. Wash your hands multiple times per day and be sure to use hand sanitizer when you can't get to a washroom. This will decrease your chances of getting a viral or bacterial infection. 

Questions and Answers

Now that you've read all about the differences between acute and chronic bronchitis as well as the risk factors, you may still want to learn more. Below are several questions and answers that should make you feel more comfortable with bronchitis, whether you attempt to prevent it or treat it after the fact.

Q: How does a doctor diagnose bronchitis?

A: You'll find your physician will need to perform a physical exam, ask about your medical history and symptoms, order a blood test, and possibly require a chest X-ray.

Q: What can help treat bronchitis and alleviate symptoms?

A: Mucus-loosening drugs bought over-the-counter can help. Furthermore, using a humidifier and drinking tea with a couple of spoons of honey can also help alleviate symptoms.

Q: What can prevent bronchitis?

A: To prevent acute bronchitis, be sure to get a yearly flu shot, quit smoking, and avoid second-hand smoke.

Q: What unique treatments do doctors prescribe for bronchitis?

A: A doctor may prescribe medicine to help clear out airway linings, oxygen therapy to improve breathing, and pulmonary rehabilitation to learn breathing strategies.