Bronchitis: Causes, Symptoms & When to go to the Doctor


bronchitisCaused by inflammation of the lining within the bronchial tube, bronchitis can be a temporary condition or chronic ailment. In most cases, the condition gets better without medical intervention, in some cases, however, it can lead to pneumonia. Here’s what you should know about bronchitis symptoms, causes and treatments.

What Causes it?

Acute or temporary bronchitis is typically caused by the same viruses that cause colds and the flu. On the other hand, chronic bronchitis is usually caused by cigarette smoking.

What Are the Symptoms?

When someone develops bronchitis, they will typically experience one or more of the following symptoms:

• Cough
• Shortness of breath
• Fatigue
• Chest discomfort

Bronchitis can also increase mucus, which may appear clear, green, yellowish-gray, white or, in rare occasions, pink. If your acute bronchitis is caused by an infection, you may also have cold symptoms, including headache, low fever, chills or body aches.

In most cases, your symptoms will improve within about a week; however, some people continue to have nagging coughs that lasts for several weeks. With chronic bronchitis, a person experiences a productive cough for at least three months, with recurring issues happening at least two straight years. It’s also not uncommon for people with chronic bronchitis to get an acute infection on top of their existing issues.

When to See a Doctor

While acute bronchitis isn’t usually serious, repeated bouts can be a sign of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). For this reason, you should be seen by your primary care provider, or visit PhysicianOne Urgent Care, if your cough:

• Keeps you awake at night
• Produces blood or disclosed mucus
• Persists for longer than three weeks
• Occurs with a fever higher than 100.4 F
• Occurs with wheezing or shortness of breath

You should also seek medical treatment if you have asthma or a preexisting health issue that might lead to complications.

You can reduce your chance of developing bronchitis by avoiding lung irritants, cigarette smoke and by getting vaccinated against the seasonal flu. You should also wash your hands frequently to avoid viruses that may cause you to get sick.

If you believe you may have bronchitis, consult the expert medical professionals at PhysicianOne Urgent Care, available for walk-ins, 7 days per week.

Dr. Jeannie Kenkare

Written by Dr. Jeannie Kenkare

Dr. Kenkare is a highly experienced clinician with a background in family medicine. As a founding member of PhysicianOne Urgent Care's parent company Happy Mountains, she is also our Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Kenkare provides guidance and leadership to our health care team, and is responsible for the review of clinical guidelines, decision tools, and outcomes to develop and implement strategies that will improve patient care and clinical quality.


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