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Acute Bronchitis


Updated April 06, 2011

Definition: Acute bronchitis occurs due to inflammation of the bronchi, the larger airways of the lungs. Unlike chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis only lasts for a short period of time.

Causes and Symptoms

Acute bronchitis is most often caused by a virus that primarily affects the respiratory system. Sometimes it is caused by bacterial infections, but this is less common. Symptoms of acute bronchitis are similar to those of chronic bronchitis and include a dry, irritating cough, thick yellow mucus that may be streaked with blood, dyspnea, wheezing, fever and soreness of the chest muscles.


Because acute bronchitis is almost always caused by a viral infection, antibiotics are generally not prescribed (unless your doctor confirms that you condition is caused by a bacterial infection.)

Treatment options for acute bronchitis include:

When to Call Your Doctor

Contact your doctor if you develop symptoms of acute bronchitis. While they usually go away within 2 weeks, you should also contact your doctor if symptoms worsen or persist.

For more information, read Acute Bronchitis from A.D.A.M.

Also Known As: bronchitis
Acute bronchitis is not the same as chronic bronchitis, but the symptoms are similar.
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