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What is bronchitis?

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which bring air to and from the lungs. This may be caused by a virus, bacteria or allergic reaction.

Acute bronchitis is common and often develops from a cold or other respiratory infection. Acute bronchitis usually improves in a few days, although the cough may last for weeks. Chronic bronchitis is more serious and involves constant inflammation of the bronchial tubes. If you have repeated cases of acute bronchitis, you may have chronic bronchitis.

What are the symptoms of bronchitis?

People with bronchitis have a cough that often produces thickened, discolored mucus.

Other symptoms may include:
  • Wheezing
  • Chest discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Mild fever or chills

How is bronchitis treated?

For acute bronchitis, the primary treatment is easing symptoms, such as avoiding smoke, using a humidifier, drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep. If the cause is a bacterial infection, your provider may prescribe antibiotics. Chronic bronchitis may require follow-up treatment.
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